No. 4 Bears Defeat No. 35 TCU, 5-2
Feb. 10, 2003
Berkeley, Calif. - The fourth-ranked California men's tennis team improved to 3-0 on the season with its 5-2 victory over the No. 35 TCU Horned Frogs this afternoon, Feb. 10 at Hellman Tennis Complex in Berkeley. Texas Christian fell to 4-4 on the year.
The match was a lot closer than the 5-2 score indicated, with three of the six singles matches going into three sets.
The Bears claimed the all-important doubles point to start things off, sweeping the three matches. On court No. 1, Robert Kowalczyk and Steve Berke won their first match of the season in tidy fashion, defeating Fabrizio Sestini and Alex Menechini, 8-3, in a quick 40-minute match. On court No. 2, Patrick Briaud and Balazs Veress fell down 3-1 to Toni Gordon and Daniel Scholten, but rebounded to take the 8-5 decision. With the doubles point already won, Mik Ledvonova and Conor Niland cruised to an 8-5 victory as well.
The singles competition was not quite as simple for the Bears. Things were looking bright as the 31st-ranked Niland gave Cal a 2-0 lead with his straight set 6-2, 6-3 victory over No. 85 Sestini on court two. But there was no quit in the Hornfrogs as their top ranked player, No. 48 Toni Gordon, made quick work of No. 82 Kowalczyk, 6-2, 7-5 to cut the Cal lead in half, 2-1, with four close matches still being played. It seemed to be anybody's game.
On court No. 4, there was a battle being waged between Cal's Berke and TCU's Abreu. In the first set, Berke took a commanding 5-2 lead, but let it slip away as Abreu rallied to win the next five games to take the first set 7-5. But the senior All-American rebounded to win the next two sets in commanding fashion to give Cal the 3-1 lead. On court six, Briaud fell to Tezza in a tightly contested match, 7-6, 7-5, giving the Horned Frogs a realistic chance of getting back into the match.
It came down to the last two men standing ... No. 37 Balazs Veress on court No. 1 and Mik Ledvonova on No. 5. Veress was the first to finish in a three-set thriller, 6-2, 1-6, 6-2, ultimately clinching the match for the Bears. The match was closer than the final score would indicate as both players battled furiously until the end. Veress took the first set 6-2, but lost a little something in the second, 1-6, to extend the match to a vital third set. But just like the Stanford match a week ago, the junior regained his composure and broke Menichini's service twice in the final set to take the match.
On court No. 5, the pressure of winning the match for the Bears was gone, but there was the matter of personal victory. Through the first two sets, neither Ledvonova nor Abreu could establish more than a game lead as the players split, 7-5, 6-7. In the vital third set, though, Ledvonova proved too much for his opponent, winning the final set by breaking Abreu's serve to win the match, 7-5, 6-7, 6-2.
Cal concludes its four-match homestand as the squad hosts UC Santa Barbara on Saturday, Feb. 15 and Fresno State Sunday, Feb. 16. Both matches will take place at noon at Hellman Tennis Complex in Berkeley.
Doubles1. Steve Berke/Robert Kowalczyk (Cal) def. Fabrizio Sestini/Alex Menichini (TCU), 8-32. Patrick Briaud/Balazs Veress (Cal) def. Toni Gordon/Daniel Scholten (TCU), 8-53. Mik Ledvonova/Conor Niland (Cal) def. Jacob Martin/Rafael Abreu (TCU), 8-5
Singles1. Balazs Veress (Cal) def. Alex Menichini (TCU), 6-2, 1-6, 6-22. Conor Niland (Cal) def. Fabrizio Sestini (TCU), 6-2, 6-33. Toni Gordon (TCU) def. Robert Kowalczyk (Cal), 6-2, 7-54. Steve Berke (Cal) def. Daniel Scholten (TCU), 5-7, 6-3, 6-15. Mik Ledvonova (Cal) def. Rafael Abreu (TCU), 7-5, 6-7, 6-26. Jacopo Tezza (TCU) def. Patrick Briaud (Cal), 7-6, 7-5
ORDER OF FINISH: 2, 3, 4, 6, 1*, 5
* clinched match