No. 5 Cal (10-1) Travels to Indian Wells to Face No. 40 SMU
March 11, 2003
WHAT'S ON TAP: The No. 5 California men's tennis team (10-1), off to its best start since the 1989 squad opened 11-0, travels to Indian Wells, CA looking to extend its four-match winning streak against No. 40 SMU at 10:00 a.m. at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. The Mustangs hold a 6-4 all-time edge over the Bears, but Cal won the last meeting, 6-1, on March 16, 2002.
ABOUT THE BEARS: Cal is led by sophomore Mik Ledvonova, whose scintillating start to this 2003 campaign has led to a 9-0 dual match record. The Denmark product is 3-0 on court No. 5 and 6-0 on court No. 6. With a 3-0 mark in the top spot, sophomore No. 27 Conor Niland has compiled a 9-2 slate in dual match play. No. 49 Robert Kowalczyk has caught fire, posting two wins over the weekend on court four for a 6-0 record and 8-1 on the season. In doubles competition, the duo of Patrick Briaud and Balazs Veress lead the squad with a 9-2 dual match record thus far.
ABOUT SMU: The Mustangs enter this week's action with a 5-5 record and a No. 40 national ranking. SMU is led by the play of sophomore Gwinyai Chingoka with a 7-2 dual record, including a perfect 4-0 on court No. 2.
HOME, SWEET HELLMAN: While the Bears' record of 19-7 last season was certainly impressive, Cal was a definite force to be reckoned with on their home courts. The Bears compiled a 13-1 record at home during the 2002 campaign, including a 10-match winning streak that spanned two months. The run was broken by Stanford (4/9) - then No. 6 in the nation - which only narrowly defeated the 17th-ranked Cal team by a 4-3 score. Cal kicked off the 2003 home slate where it left off last year, starting the season 5-0 at Hellman with only six more home matches left to play.
LAST WEEK AGAINST ARIZONA, ARIZONA STATE: Cal completed its first sweep over the Arizona schools in Arizona since 1998. On Friday, the Sun Devils gave the Bears a slight scare, taking Cal down to the wire, but the Bears prevailed in a 4-3 win. Cal dropped the doubles point for only the third time this year, but rallied to take four of the six singles matches to hold on for the victory. Sophomore Dane Mik Ledvonova continued his sizzling play, winning his eighth match in a row to give him an 11-4 overall record for the season. The following day in Tucson, the Bears outplayed the No. 50 Wildcats in a 6-1 victory. Cal took two of the three doubles matches to claim the early 1-0 lead and claimed five of the six singles matches for the 6-1 win. Several streaks were extended over the weekend as Niland claimed his fourth consecutive win, Kowalczyk his sixth and Ledvonova his ninth.
THE RANKINGS ARE IN: The USTA/ITA announced the second of nine individual national rankings Feb. 26, and the Bears placed three singles players in the Top 65. Sophomore Irishman Conor Niland heads the pack, checking in at No. 27, up from his previous ranking of No. 31. Senior Kowalczyk also climbed the charts, moving up to No. 49 from his earlier showing of No. 82. After entering the season at No. 37, Veress fell 24 spots to No. 61. The next scheduled individual rankings are due out on March 12.
NOTES: The SMU match will take place inside the grounds of the Pacific Life Open. There will be a Cal friends and family reception at the tournament on Saturday following the match. Grounds passes to see the college event are $10, but if you buy a ticket to Saturday's pro matches you can see the Bears for free. For ticket and hotel info go to www.pacificlifeopen.com.