Men's Tennis Heads To Oregon For Regular Season Finale

April 15, 2009

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THIS WEEK: The 2009 regular season draws to a close for the 21st-ranked Husky men's tennis team with one last conference match in Eugene, Ore. against the rival Ducks. Washington (13-8, 2-3 Pac-10) can tie for third in the conference standings with a win. The Huskies will try to duplicate a 7-0 win they posted against Oregon in the first meeting between the teams this season back in February that did not count in the Pac-10 standings. First serve for the dual will be 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 18.

SCOUTING OREGON: Washington already has one victory against the Ducks, 7-0, on Feb. 20 in Seattle in the non-conference meeting between the schools. The Ducks are 9-14 heading into the second meeting, and are winless in Pac-10 play at 0-5. Oregon fell to Cal, 6-1, in their last outing, but took four of the singles matches into third sets. Marcos Verdasco nearly upset Cal's top player, Pedro Zerbini, at No. 1 singles. Verdasco and Alexander Cornelissen did pull off an upset in the No. 1 doubles match, overcoming 13th-ranked Zerbini and Geoff Chizever, 8-4. With that win, Oregon's top doubles duo snuck into the doubles rankings this week at No. 88. This will be Oregon's last match of the season, though they have only one senior, Mike Myrhed, on the roster. UW has won 10 straight versus the Ducks.

LAST TIME OUT: Washington split two matches against the Bay Area schools last weekend at the Nordstrom Tennis Center, taking down 37th-ranked California, 4-3, last Friday then falling to 8th-ranked Stanford on Saturday by a 6-1 count. Against the Bears, Washington played inspired doubles, sweeping the point which included an upset of Cal's 13th-ranked team of Zerbini and Chizever by Martin Kildahl and Derek Drabble. Washington got an impressive win from Drabble at No. 5 singles, as he defeated Bozhidar Katsarov, 6-1, 6-3. Cal got on the board at No. 1, as Zerbini defeated Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan, who was still suffering from the effects of an illness that sidelined him the previous week. The Huskies though would put the match away with a 6-3, 7-5 win from Patrik Fischer over Eoin Heavey at No. 2 singles, followed by a 7-6 (8), 7-5 win for Kildahl over Nick Andrews at No. 3. With UW ahead 4-1, Cal took the last two matches, the last one in a super-tiebreak. The next day against the Cardinal, Washington had match points to win the doubles point but it just barely slipped away. After Drabble and Kildahl won in the No. 1 match, Fischer and Nedunchezhiyan went to a tiebreak against 34th-ranked Richard Wire and Blake Muller at No. 2. The Huskies saved a pair of match points down 4-6, then had two of their own, but Stanford would up prevailing, 10-8. Stanford was too tough in singles play, as the Huskies went without Nedunchezhiyan in singles. Winning for UW was senior Ryo Sekiguchi at the No. 6 spot over Ted Kelly, 6-3, 6-4. David Chu and Drabble both took their singles matches into third set super-tiebreaks, but Stanford edged them out in each.

HUSKIES IN THE RANKINGS: For the third straight week, the Huskies stood pat in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association team rankings, remaining at 21st. A new set of singles and doubles rankings were also released today, with sophomore Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan slipping four spots to No. 44 but senior Patrik Fischer rising 20 spots to No. 93. Nedunchezhiyan achieved a career-high No. 31 ranking on Feb. 19. After sweeping the No. 1 doubles teams for Cal and Stanford last weekend, junior Derek Drabble and sophomore Martin Kildahl returned to the doubles rankings at No. 61, a season-high. Fischer and Nedunchezhiyan are also ranked No. 67 in doubles, and have been as high as No. 41 this year.

NEDUNCHEZHIYAN ENJOYING BREAKOUT YEAR: Since the start of the dual season, Husky sophomore Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan has taken his game and career to a higher level. The sophomore from Chennai, India is a team-best 15-3 in dual play, with wins in 12 of his past 14 matches. The only thing that was able to break up his momentum was a recent bout with the flu that kept him out of three Pac-10 matches. Prior to the illness, Nedunchezhiyan was one of the hottest players in the country. In the fourth match of the season, Nedunchezhiyan had a third-set super-tiebreak loss against the nation's third-ranked player, Steven Moneke of Ohio State, 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. All told in dual play Nedunchezhiyan has gone 7-2 against ranked opponents, the most recent win a three-setter over Arizona's Jay Goldman, ranked 64th at the time. 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 NEAR CURTAIN CALLS: Just one regular season match remains for Washington's trio of seniors, and Patrik Fischer, David Chu, and Ryo Sekiguchi have all enjoyed winning seasons, exemplifying the success they've achieved throughout their careers. Fischer, an All-Pac-10 Second Team member last year, has played at either No. 1 or No. 2 singles in every match for the last two years and is currently ranked 93rd in singles. Fischer has been strong in Pac-10 play so far, defeating Arizona's Andres Arango, USC's 74th-ranked Jaak Poldma, and California's Eoin Heavey and barely losing to UCLA's Holden Seguso in a third-set tiebreak at No. 1 singles. Currently 16-9 in singles play, Fischer could get into contention for an NCAA Singles spot with a strong showing at Pac-10's and in the NCAA team tourney. Chu has been extremely solid for the Dawgs in singles as well, going 10-7 in dual matches and playing in every spot from third through sixth singles at least twice. Chu's 64 career singles wins are second-most of any Husky, trailing just behind Sekiguchi, who owns 66 wins from his two seasons at San Diego and two at Washington. Sekiguchi is riding a three-match Pac-10 win streak, starting with two outstanding wins in Los Angeles, as he defeated USC's Jason McNaughton and UCLA's Ahmed Ismail in the No. 6 singles spot. Sekiguchi then provided UW's only win last Saturday against Stanford, beating Ted Kelly in straight sets. In just his two years at UW, Sekiguchi has gone 36-20 in singles. In their nine combined seasons at Washington (Fischer began his career as a sophomore), Chu, Fischer, and Sekiguchi have racked up 156 singles wins, and Washington has qualified for the NCAA Championships every year of their tenures.

UP NEXT: The Huskies will head to Ojai, Calif. to compete in the annual Pac-10 Championships where conference singles and doubles champions will be crowned. The tournament runs from Thursday, April 23 to Sunday, April 26.

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.

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