Top-10 Trojans And Bruins Await Huskies In L.A.
April 1, 2009
THIS WEEK: Washington men's tennis sets off for Los Angeles this week and a pair of clashes with Top-10 conference rivals USC and UCLA. The Huskies (12-5, 1-0 Pac-10) are ranked a season-high 21st coming off their win over Arizona to open Pac-10 play last Sunday. They will be sternly tested by the 6th-ranked Trojans (15-4, 2-0) on Friday, April 3 and the 9th-ranked Bruins (12-4, 2-0) on Saturday, April 4. Match times are 1:30 p.m. for USC and 1 p.m. for UCLA. The UW, USC, and UCLA are the three remaining unbeatens in Pac-10 play.
SCOUTING USC: The Trojans are riding high after a sweep of Cal and Stanford last weekend. They also defeated 7th-ranked Baylor prior to the Bay Area trip. USC's last loss came at Texas A&M, 4-3, against whom the Huskies also fell short against by the same score. Senior Abdullah Magdas is the current Pac-10 Player of the Week, after going 4-0 in singles and doubles against Cal and Stanford. The Trojans are also led by one of the nation's top players, junior Robert Farah, who is ranked 3rd in the latest ITA poll and is 21-4 on the year. Also ranked is freshman Steve Johnson at No. 67, sophomore Jaak Poldma at No. 74, and Magdas at No. 83. Farah and Johnson also rank fourth in doubles and Farah was the 2008 NCAA Doubles Champion along with Kaes Van't Hof who graduated. Last season USC defeated UW, 6-1, with 2008 grad Andy Kuharszky scoring a point for UW with a win at third singles. Washington last beat USC in 2006 in Seattle.
SCOUTING UCLA: The Bruins equaled the success of their crosstown rivals by posting a 4-3 win over Stanford and a 5-2 win over Cal last week. UCLA displayed its depth with wins at fourth, fifth, and sixth singles against the Cardinal. UCLA has won the last five Pac-10 Conference titles, sharing the 2005 honor with Washington. The Bruins are on a five-match winning streak and will play Oregon the day before the Huskies. The Bruins feature four players ranked in singles, including Haythem Abid (45), Matt Brooklyn (95), Nick Meister (114) and Michael Look (119). In doubles, Meister and Abid check in at No. 21, while Amit Inbar and Harel Srugo are ranked No. 61. UCLA earned a 6-1 win over UW last year but the match was much closer, as the Bruins won three matches in third sets. Husky senior David Chu defeated Meister last year in the six spot. The Huskies' last win over UCLA was a 4-3 decision in 2006.
LAST TIME OUT: The Washington men's tennis team started off Pac-10 play with a bang on Sunday, downing 20th-ranked Arizona, 6-1, at the Nordstrom Tennis Center. The Huskies snapped the Wildcats' 14-match winning streak. The Huskies put on a clinic in the top two doubles matches to gain the early 1-0 lead. At No. 1 doubles, the 44th-ranked tandem of Patrik Fischer and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan raced out to a 3-0 lead. With UW serving in the next game, Arizona's Francois VanderMerwe and Pat Metham had triple break point to get back into the match, but Fischer won five straight points on his serve and the Huskies went on to win, 8-1. The Huskies were just as impressive at No. 2 doubles, with Martin Kildahl and Derek Drabble controlling the net throughout an 8-3 win over Andres Arango and Andres Carrasco. Moving on to singles play, Chu came up big at No. 4 singles, downing Ravid Hazi, 6-1, 6-2. Fischer followed Chu with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Arango at No. 2 singles to put UW up 3-0. The clincher came from Drabble at No. 5 singles against Metham. The junior fought off two set points in a first set tiebreak to win the breaker, 12-10. Drabble then carried that momentum to a 6-2 second set win. Kildahl then put the Huskies ahead 5-0 with a hard-hitting 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 win over Carrasco at third singles, and Nedunchezhiyan rallied back from a set down to take out 64th-ranked Jay Goldman in the No. 1 match. Nedunchezhiyan was down a break at 3-4 in the third set before taking the final three games to win 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.
HUSKIES IN THE RANKINGS: Washington reached a new season-high in the latest ITA Rankings, released Tuesday, holding down the No. 21 spot. In the latest singles and doubles rankings were released this week, sophomore Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan comes in at No. 40 and senior Patrik Fischer checks in at No. 113. Nedunchezhiyan achieved a career-high No. 31 ranking on Feb. 19. Fischer and Nedunchezhiyan are also ranked 43rd in doubles, despite playing just four times together during the dual season.
NEDUNCHEZHIYAN CONTINUES TO ROLL: In two month's time, Husky sophomore Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan has taken his still still young career to a higher level. The sophomore from Chennai, India is a team-best 15-2 in dual play, with wins in 12 of his past 13 matches and a current five-match win streak. In his most recent match against a ranked opponent, he rallied from a set down to sink Arizona's 64th-ranked Jay Goldman, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4. One of Nedunchezhiyan's two setbacks came in a third-set super-tiebreak against the nation's third-ranked player, Steven Moneke of Ohio State back on January 25, but the close loss only seemed to boost his confidence. Nedunchezhiyan won seven straight following that match, and defeated five ranked opponents including four in the Top-50. He has earned two wins over Top-25 players this year, one coming against 22nd-ranked Clancy Shields of Boise State and the other against 24th-ranked Conor Pollock of Texas A&M, who is now ranked 19th. For his wins against Indiana and Georgia in National Team Indoor qualifying, Nedunchezhiyan was named the Pac-10 Men's Tennis Player of the Week for the week of Jan. 26-Feb. 1. The honor was the second of his career, and the sixth all-time for Washington.
SENIORS CLOSING IN ON CURTAIN CALLS: Just two home matches remain for Washington's trio of seniors, and Patrik Fischer, David Chu, and Ryo Sekiguchi have been picking up steam with the heart of the Pac-10 schedule ahead of them. Fischer, an All-Pac-10 Second Team member last year, has won six of his last eight matches with two ranked wins in that stretch. Fischer's 6-4, 6-1 win over Arizona's Andres Arango last Sunday was one of the Swiss' most impressive victories. Currently 14-7 in singles play and ranked 113th, Fischer could get into contention for an NCAA Singles spot with a few big wins over the next several matches as the Huskies battle Top-10 teams. Chu has been extremely solid for the Dawgs in singles as well, going 10-3 in dual matches, and 5-0 in the Nos. 5 and 6 spots. He has a four match winning streak going that includes impressive victories against Minnesota, Texas A&M, and Arizona. Chu's 64 career singles wins are most of any Husky. Trailing just one win behind Chu is Sekiguchi with 63 wins that includes his two seasons at San Diego. Sekiguchi's nine match win streak from the end of the fall through the start of the dual season is the longest by any Husky this year. A native of Tokyo, Japan, Sekiguchi's two-handed groundstrokes have worn down many an opponent and will be sorely missed.
UP NEXT: Washington closes out its home schedule with two more crucial Pac-10 matches next weekend. First up is 44th-ranked Cal on Friday, April 10, with first serve slated for 1 p.m. The next day, the 8th-ranked Stanford Cardinal will be on hand for a 12:30 p.m. match. It will be the final home appearances for three senior starters: David Chu, Patrik Fischer, and Ryo Sekiguchi.
FALL RECAP: The Huskies played a light fall season, with just two tournaments for the majority of the team. One group of Huskies traveled to San Diego for the Bulldog Classic from Oct. 3-5, while Patrik Fischer and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan went to Tulsa, Okla. for the D'Novo ITA All-American Championships from Oct. 6-8. Competing in the qualifying singles draw, both Fischer and Nedunchezhiyan won their initial singles matches, but lost in the next round. Teaming up for doubles, the pair won their first two matches over tandems from Southern Illinois and Tulsa, but came up one win short of making the main draw as they fell to Pepperdine's top-seeded Altmann and Beidas. At the Bulldog Classic, Derek Drabble reached the quarterfinals in singles and in doubles with Martin Kildahl, and redshirt freshman Matt Stith registered his first college wins. The fall season ended with ITA Regionals, where UW excelled in doubles play. Three different Husky doubles duos made the Regional quarterfinals, and Fischer and Nedunchezhiyan advanced to the final match, ultimately coming up short against Cal's Chizever and Zerbini. Ryo Sekiguchi closed his fall season with a flourish, winning six-straight matches to take the consolation singles title.
HEAD COACH Matt Anger: The turning point in modern Washington tennis came with the hiring of Matt Anger, now in his 15th season as head coach. Since his arrival, the Huskies have been a model of consistency, and consistently excellent at that. The winningest coach in Washington history, Anger's teams have never once missed the NCAA Championships and have been a fixture in the Top-25 with five runs to the NCAA Round of 16 in this decade alone. Under Anger's watch, Washington has posted a winning record in all of his 14 seasons, and won its first ever Pac-10 title in 2005 as Anger was named Pac-10 Coach of the Year. Furthermore, several of Anger's players have seen tremendous individual success, with seven of the top eight winningest players in UW history competing during his tenure. Five different singles players have earned All-American honors under Anger, 10 different players earned year-end Top-50 rankings, and Alex Vlaski captured the 2003 ITA All-American Championships, the first national title for a Husky since 1924. In addition, Anger is the only active coach who over the past 10 years, has guided three different players to the NCAA Singles Semifinals. Anger played collegiate tennis at USC from 1982-84 and was a three-time All-American, while leading the team to a top-five finish three consecutive years. In 1983, he was a Pac-10 singles finalist and helped lead the Trojans to a third-place NCAA finish. The next season, Anger won the Pac-10 doubles championship, was a Pac-10 singles semifinalist, and helped USC win the conference team title. At the conclusion of his junior season, Anger entered the pro ranks and played on the pro tour for eight years (1984-91). He earned his highest ATP singles ranking of No. 23 in the world in 1986.