Huskies Open NCAA's At Texas Regional
May 5, 2009
2009 NCAA Men's Tennis Regional
Austin, Texas Penick-Allison Tennis Center University of Texas
Friday, May 8
#27 Washington vs. #36 Texas Tech - 8 a.m.
#12 Texas vs. Sacred Heart - 11 a.m.
Saturday, May 9
Winner Match 1 vs. Winner Match 2 - 11 a.m.
THIS WEEK: Washington begins its NCAA Championships run this Friday, May 8, in Austin, Texas against the 36th-ranked Red Raiders of Texas Tech. The Huskies, ranked 27th, will be hoping for an extended stay in the Lone Star State, as the winner of the four team Regional which also includes 12th-ranked Texas and Sacred Heart will advance to the final site in College Station, Texas next week. This is the 15th-straight NCAA appearance for the Huskies, the longest streak by any Washington program aside from crew and softball. Washington (14-8) opens against Texas Tech (13-11) at 8 a.m. Pacific time on Friday at Texas' Penick-Allison Tennis Center. Should UW advance, it would play its second round match on Saturday, May 9, at 11 a.m. Pacific. Texas will provide live scoring for all matches, available from the link below:
WASHINGTON IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT: Ever since Matt Anger took control of the Huskies in 1995, Washington has become a regular in the NCAA Championships. Anger's first year marked UW's first tournament bid, and they have returned every year since. Since 2001, Washington has reached the Round of 16 on five occasions, most recently in 2006. For six-straight years (2001-2006) the Huskies won at least one NCAA match, compiling an 11-6 record during that span. Washington has come up short in the first round in the past two seasons, both times losing to Wisconsin. The Huskies have also had to be tournament road warriors. Four of their five Sweet-16 trips came after winning regionals on the road, as they have only been selected to host one time. The Huskies have prevailed in regionals hosted by Notre Dame, Stanford, San Diego State, and Virginia Commonwealth. Overall, Washington is 14-14 in NCAA tournament play. Setting a rigorous schedule is the norm for the Huskies, and this season they have face 12 different NCAA tourney teams, with a 4-8 record against them. UW has wins over Minnesota, California, Michigan, and Arizona. Six of their eight losses have come to teams that earned one of the sixteen top seeds.
SCOUTING TEXAS TECH: The Red Raiders are the third seed in the four-team regional, and finished the regular season ranked 36th by the ITA. Texas Tech went 13-11 and finished fifth in the Big 12 this season. This is the third-straight NCAA berth for the Red Raiders, and the fourth in the past five years, all under 15th-year head coach Tim Siegel. Tech made the Round of 16 in 2005 for the first time in program history. They are led by a talented freshman, Raony Carvalho, who is ranked 41st in singles and earned an NCAA Singles bid. Carvalho had a win over UW's Patrik Fischer in a fall tournament. He also teams with senior Christian Rojmar to form the 15th-ranked doubles team in the nation, and the two earned an NCAA Doubles bid as well, going 13-8 in dual matches. The Raiders have five seniors, including Sinisa Markovic, who has played No. 2 singles for much of the year and has the best dual record at 16-6. The teams have had several common opponents this year, noteably, both teams lost 4-3 to USC and Tech fell 4-3 to Arizona while UW beat the Wildcats, 6-1. Both teams suffered close defeats to Texas A&M and both had wins over Oklahoma. Texas Tech visited Seattle just two years ago for the Great Northwest Shootout, with the Huskies prevailing, 4-1. UW's Fischer and Derek Drabble each had wins against current Red Raiders in that match. The UW leads the all-time series, 3-1.
SCOUTING TEXAS: Should the Huskies advance, they would likely face the 12th-seed and host school, the Texas Longhorns. The Longhorns were a surprise NCAA Finalist last season, upsetting 10th-seeded Florida, second-seeded Ohio State, and third-seeded UCLA before losing to Georgia in the title match, 4-2. Texas has four of its singles starters back from the runner-up squad, including junior All-American Dimitar Kutrovsky. The Longhorn leader is ranked 19th in singles and is 24-11 on the year and was chosen recently to participate in the NCAA Singles tourney for the third time in his career. Texas also has three All-American doubles players in sophomore Kellen Damico and Ed Corrie, and senior Miguel Reyes Varela. Texas is 34-26 overall in the NCAA tournament, and is making its 27th appearance overall. Texas fell to Stanford and USC out of the Pac-10 but does have a win over Texas A&M, which beat the Huskies, 4-3. Ninth-year head coach Michael Center has led Texas to the NCAA's in every year of his career. The Huskies and Longhorns have never met in men's tennis.
SCOUTING SACRED HEART: Odds are the Huskies will not see much of the Sacred Heart Pioneers, but should UW defeat Texas Tech and the Pioneers score the huge upset over the Longhorns, the two would meet in the second round. Sacred Heart won the Northeast Conference Championships with a 4-2 win over Monmouth in the final. They are 14-8 overall under first year head coach Paul Gagliardi. Adam Gart, Jinal Shah and Michael Syer all earned All-NEC selections for the Pioneers, while Kirill Kasyanov went 16-6 at No. 1 singles. Washington has never faced Sacred Heart.
REGULAR SEASON RECAP: Washington turned in its 15th-straigth winning season under head coach Matt Anger in 2009. After starting the year ranked 34th, Washington reached as high as No. 21 in the rankings before entering Pac-10's at No. 27. The Huskies went 3-3 in Pac-10 play, tying Stanford for third place. This marks the fourth season out of the past five that UW has finished third or higher in the conference standings. Washington had three wins over teams ranked in the Top-20 at the time of the match: a 4-2 win over 18th-ranked Michigan, a 5-2 win over No. 24 Minnesota, and a 6-1 win against a 20th-ranked Arizona squad that snapped the Wildcats' 14-match winning streak. All eight of UW's losses came to teams currently ranked in the Top-20, and five were at the hands of Top-10 opponents. The Huskies earned conference wins against Arizona (6-1), California (4-3) and Oregon (5-2). Washington came up just a shot or two short in a few other big matches, falling to Texas A&M, USC, and Boise State by 4-3 counts. Early in the season, UW was sent to Georgia for the National Team Indoor Qualifying rounds, and met the defending champion Bulldogs in the second round, taking the doubles point and getting a singles win from Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan in singles but UGA prevailed, 4-2. Nedunchezhiyan came into his own during his sophomore year this season, going 16-3 in dual matches, and earning a career-high No. 30 ranking as he looks to be on his way to his first NCAA Singles Championship appearance. Senior Patrik Fischer was also ranked in singles for much of the season, and UW found success recently with those two in the top doubles spot and junior Derek Drabble and sophomore Martin Kildahl at second doubles. UW is 12-1 when winning the doubles point.
HUSKIES IN THE RANKINGS: Washington remained at No. 27 in last week's rankings, the final set before the NCAA Championships. The Huskies have been ranked as high as 21st this year for a three week stretch. A new set of singles and doubles rankings were released April 27, with sophomore Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan coming in at No. 43 and senior Patrik Fischer at No. 112. Nedunchezhiyan achieved a career-high No. 31 ranking on Feb. 19. The biggest movers for the Huskies was the doubles duo of junior Derek Drabble and sophomore Martin Kildahl, who shot up 26 places to a season-high of No. 35 after the two advanced to the semifinals of the Pac-10 Championships. Fischer and Nedunchezhiyan are also ranked No. 87 in doubles, and have been as high as No. 41 this year.
THREE HUSKIES COLLECT PAC-10 HONORS: On Monday, three Huskies were named to the All-Pac-10 teams, led by sophomore Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan, who was selected to the seven-member First Team in a vote by the conference coaches. Also earning Pac-10 accolades was senior Patrik Fischer (Huttwil, Bern, Switzerland), who was voted to the Second Team for the second consecutive season, and sophomore Martin Kildahl (Oslo, Norway) who received honorable mention. Nedunchezhiyan becomes the seventh Husky ever to earn Pac-10 First Team honors, with the seven having combined for 11 First Team selections. All seven first teamers have played for 15th-year head coach Matt Anger. Alex Slovic was UW's last First Team selection in 2007. More on his season is below. For the second straight year, Fischer garnered Second Team honors. He posted a 16-10 overall record and was 13-8 in dual match play, coming at the No. 1 and No. 2 singles spots. Fischer defeated four ranked opponents and had key wins in Pac-10 play over Arizona, USC, and California. Fischer was ranked 56th in the fall and as high as 91st during the spring season. This is the first conference honor for Kildahl, who went from the No. 6 singles spot as a freshman up to No. 3 this year and went 14-7 in dual play, the second-best mark on the team. Kildahl is 17-9 overall in singles and also was one of UW's most valuable doubles players, playing at the No. 1 spot with both Nedunchezhiyan and junior Derek Drabble. Kildahl and Drabble reached the semifinals of the Pac-10 Doubles Championships and were named alternates for the NCAA tourney.
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 went a team-best 16-3 in dual play. 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. 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. Nedunchezhiyan was ranked as high as 31st this season, and was selected to the NCAA Singles Championships for the first time this year. Just this week Nedunchezhiyan was also voted to the All-Pac-10 First Team by the conference coaches, becoming the seventh Husky ever to earn First Team status.
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.