UW Men Meet Auburn in NCAA Tennis Sweet 16

May 14, 2002

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NCAA Men's Tennis Championships
Texas A&M Tennis Center; College Station, Texas

Sat., May 18
-- Round of 16, (#35) UW vs. (#13) Auburn; 5 p.m. PDT (7 p.m. CDT)

Sun., May 19
-- Quarterfinals, Winner vs. UCLA or Florida.; 2 p.m. PDT (4 p.m. CDT)

Mon., May 20
-- Semifinals; 2 p.m. & 5 p.m. PDT (4 p.m. & 7 p.m. CDT)

Tue., May 22
-- Championship Match; 5 p.m. PDT (7 p.m. CDT)

They are the uninvited guests. The 35th-ranked Washington men's tennis team (19-6) crashed the championship party, staging the biggest upset of the tournament with a win over No. 5 seed Stanford to earn a berth in the 16-team NCAA finals. The 2002 Division I Men's Team Championships will be held May 18-22 at the Texas A&M Tennis Center in College Station, Texas. The Huskies will meet 13th-ranked Auburn (19-7) on Saturday, May 18 at 5 p.m. Pacific Time (7 p.m. Central). Also in the UW's portion of the bracket will be No. 2 UCLA and No. 12 Florida. The winners of each match will then meet in the quarterfinals, Sunday, May 19 at 2 p.m. PDT (4 p.m. CDT). The only other unseeded team remaining from the original 64-team NCAA field is 17th-ranked Duke which as regional host defeated No. 10 seed California. Washington's improbable 4-3 win at Stanford kept the Cardinal out of the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1987. Stanford, which has an 81-9 all-time record in NCAA championships, won five of the last seven national titles. This marks only the second time in school history that UW has advanced past the first two rounds. The 2001 squad, the school's first Sweet 16 qualifier, was defeated 4-1 by Pac-10 rival UCLA. The Huskies are competing in their eighth straight NCAA Tournament. Washington reached the Round of 16 by virtue of a pair of wins last weekend in Palo Alto, Calif. UW beat No. 32 Tulane 4-2 before upsetting No. 6 Stanford 4-3 in the regional final.

The Field
With the regional winners decided, the 64-team tournament has quickly dwindled down to the final 16 teams. Washington, along with perennial powerhouses, UCLA and USC, were the only three teams from the Pac-10 to advance to the final site. Fourteen of the tournament's 16 seeds are still alive with only Duke and Washington remaining among the unseeded teams from the 64-team bracket. The field is as follows: Auburn, Baylor, Duke, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, Notre Dame, Pepperdine, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, UCLA, USC and Washington.

UW in the Rankings
The Huskies are currently ranked 35th in the latest Omni Hotels Collegiate Tennis Rankings conducted by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA). A pair of Washington players are listed in the singles rankings. Freshman Alex Vlaski boasts a No. 29 ranking and junior Matt Hanlin is No. 42.

Net Notes
Washington athletes have captured one singles (Wallace Scott in 1924) and one doubles (Jim Brink/Fred Fisher in 1949) national championship ... The Huskies have a 19-6 record and are aiming for the seventh 20-win season in school history.Record Watch: Junior Matt Hanlin ranks No. 7 among all-time Washington singles competitors with 77 career victories ... Junior Dillon Ruby has 51 career doubles wins to rank No. 17 on UW's charts for all-time doubles wins.

UW-Auburn Notes
The Round of 16 matchup between Washington and Auburn will mark the first time that the two schools have faced each other. However, junior Matt Hanlin is familiar with at least one of the members of the squad. Last season, Hanlin and Auburn's Rameez Junaid met up in the first round of the 64-man singles tournament where the Husky eliminated the Tiger in three sets, 1-6, 7-6(7), 6-4.

About Auburn
Auburn University comes to the final site with an overall record of 19-7, along with a 9-5 mark in the Southeastern Conference. The Tigers advanced to the conference finals where they were defeated by 11th-ranked Tennessee, 4-1. Auburn has earned a postseason berth eight out of the past nine seasons, and made Sweet 16 appearances in both 1997 and 1998. The Tigers currently have three players in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's singles rankings and three duos in the doubles rankings. They are as follows: Singles- No. 21 Rameez Junaid, No. 50 Tiago Ruffoni and No. 60 Andrew Colombo. Doubles- No. 11 Tiago Ruffoni and Andrew Colombo, No. 13 Tiago Ruffoni and Rammeez Junaid and No. 27 Mark Kovacs and Andrew Colombo.

Doubles are the Key
Any tennis coach will tell you of the importance of winning the doubles point. In 17 out of Washington's 19 wins this season, they secured the doubles point, as compared to five of UW's six match losses, where they dropped the doubles point. The Huskies will have their hands full this weekend when they face Auburn, who not only has three tandems in the national rankings, but has only given up four doubles points all year.

Hanlin in the Clutch
Junior Matt Hanlin has been a clutch performer for Washington all season long, posting a 24-6 overall singles record and a 16-8 mark in doubles action. However, his postseason play has been even more spectacular. With a 5-1 all-time postseason dual record, Hanlin has not lost a tournament match since the Huskies faced San Diego State in the 2000 postseason, Hanlin's freshman year, where he was defeated by Alex Waske, 6-4, 6-1 at No. 1 singles.

The Value of Vlaski
Washington freshman Alex Vlaski was voted the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year. He was also named the Region Eight Intercollegiate Tennis Association's Rookie Player of the Year. It was the second time that a Husky earned such an honor, the last time being in 1998 when Robert Kendrick was voted the top rookie in the region. Vlaski finished the regular season with a 23-7 overall mark and advanced to the finals of the Pac-10 Championships where he was defeated by UCLA's Rodrigo Grilli, 6-4, 6-3.

Coach Matt Anger Quotes
' I guess you could say we crashed the party, but it's tennis and we're having fun. We're just enjoying competing in matches. Duke is the other unseeded team, but they are highly ranked and got to play their regional at home.
(On Auburn): 'I don't know a lot about Auburn. Obviously they are a good team to be ranked as high as they are. I'm pretty confident that we are going to come out and play well.'
(On the Stanford upset): 'All kinds of people have been calling and e-mailing since our win at Stanford. We've had some big wins in our program as we've steadily risen to a higher level. But Stanford has such a strong history in their program and because of that this win seems to have caught the attention of more people.'

Regional Recap
The Huskies, who had only beaten Stanford once out of 27 previous attempts, upset the fifth-seeded Cardinal on their own home courts to advance to the NCAA finals. UW secured the doubles point once again with victories from the Nos. 1 and 3 duos. Ari Strasberg and Alex Vlaski notched an 8-6 upset over second-ranked Scott Lipsky and David Martin at No. 1 doubles. Christoph Palmanshofer and Peter Scharler clinched the point for the second straight match with a win over Joe Kao and Phil Sheng, 8-5. The Huskies were up 1-0, but Stanford rebounded to take the next three singles matches for a two-point spread. However, Vlaski took care of Lipsky, 6-4, 7-6(4) at No. 2 singles and Scharler notched a three-set victory over Kao, 5-7, 6-0, 6-4. With the score tied 3-3, No. 49 Matt Hanlin and No. 28 Martin were the only two remaining. After suffering a loss in the first set, Hanlin earned a tie-break victory in the second, and claimed the match, 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-1 to propel Washington to the Round of 16. Stanford, who has won five of the last seven NCAA titles, has advanced to the final site every year since 1987. The Huskies began postseason play with a 4-2 victory over No. 32 Tulane in the first round of the NCAA Regionals. In doubles action, junior duo Matt Hanlin and Dillon Ruby won 8-3 over Hannu Piiroinen and Goran Vasiljevic at No. 2 doubles. Christoph Palmanshofer and Peter Scharler clinched the point for UW with a 8-5 defeat of Jorge Lievano and Mattias Westerberg. Ruby was the first to notch a singles victory with a straight set victory over Vasiljevic, 6-2, 6-0. Hanlin was also victorious in two sets as he took care of No. 20 Michael Kogan, 6-4, 6-4. Alex Vlaski clinched the win with a 6-7(7), 6-3, 6-4 decision over No. 56 Victor Romero.

Championship Dates
The NCAA men's singles and doubles championships follow the team championships, beginning May 22 and concluding May 27 in College Station, Texas. UW's Matt Hanlin (Birmingham, England) and Alex Vlaski (Belgrade, Yugoslavia) were both chosen to compete in the 64-man NCAA Singles Championships. This marks the first time since 1999 that the Huskies have sent two players to the singles tournament, when Eric Drew and Robert Kendrick were selected three years ago. Hanlin was chosen as an alternate last year and advanced to the Round of 16, where he was defeated by Brian Vahaly of Virginia, 6-1, 6-1.

Solid Start
The 2002 Washington men's tennis team began the year with a record of 13-0, recording the best start in school history. The 1986 squad began their campaign with 11 consecutive wins, before losing to San Diego, 7-2. Washington's first loss on the year came at the hands of No. 31 Texas Christian at the Pepperdine Invitational. The Huskies lost both non-conference matches that weekend to drop to 13-2.

Last Season
The 2000-01 Washington men's tennis team made history in the school record books. The team finished the year with a 20-8 overall record, and a 3-4 mark in conference play, good enough to tie them for fourth place in the Pac-10. The 20 wins were the most since the 1986 team tallied 26 victories. The Huskies earned their highest ranking ever, coming in at No. 6 following wins over No. 4 Georgia (4-3) and No. 8 Florida (4-1) in the USTA/ITA National Team Indoor Championships. They finished the season ranked No. 17 after defeating Hofstra and Notre Dame in the NCAA tournament and advancing to the Sweet 16 for the first time. UW lost 4-1 to No. 2 UCLA in the round of 16.

Pac-10 Pride
The Huskies are one of six Pac-10 teams to receive tournament berths, including Arizona State, California, Stanford, UCLA, USC and Washington. Three Pac-10 schools are still alive, including No. 4 seed UCLA and No. 11 seed USC.

For up-to-date information about the NCAA Tennis Championships, check out: www.ncaachampionships.com or AggieAthletics.com/ncaatennis

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