No. 5 Cal (11-1) Hosts Nationally No. 1 Ranked Illinois
March 18, 2003
WHAT'S ON TAP: The No. 5 California men's tennis team (11-1), off to its best start since the 1989 squad also opened 11-1, returns from a three-match road trip this week looking to extend its five-match win streak vs. BYU Monday, March 24 at 1:30 p.m. and top-ranked Illinois Tuesday, March 25 at 2:00 p.m. Illinois and Cal combine to place eight players in the Top 105 in the nation.
MAGIC MIK: As a freshman last season, Mik Ledvonova finished tied with then-junior John Paul Fruttero for second place on the team in dual match wins (16-3). So, it is not surprising that the Denmark product has started 2003 in much the same manner, compiling a 10-0 record through 11 matches. After primarily competing at No. 6 singles last year, Ledvonova has bounced between courts No. 5 and 6 this season, posting a 4-0 record on five and 6-0 on six.
STREAKING: Besides Ledvonova's nine-match winning streak, sophomore Conor Niland (No. 38) has claimed five in a row, while senior Robert Kowalczyk (No. 41) had his six-match win streak snapped Saturday vs. SMU.
ABOUT BYU: The No. 66 Cougars come to Berkeley with a 7-5 overall record and a 3-15 all-time record vs. the Bears. Most recently, BYU claimed a 4-3 victory over Denver March 8 in Provo.
ABOUT ILLINOIS: The Fighting Illini enter this week as the No. 1 team in the nation with an umblemished 13-0 record (3-0, Big Ten). Illinois has four players ranked in the Top 15 in the nation, and six in the Top 105. The Illini have three 20-match winners in No. 8 Phil Stolt (20-2), No. 103 Michael Calkins (20-5) and No. 74 Ryan DeHeart (22-5). No. 5 Amer Delic, No. 9 Brian Wilson and Pramod Dabir are all 19-4. The Bears and Illini are deadlocked at 1-1 all-time vs. each other, with Illinois winning the last meeting, 4-1, in the first round of the 2002 National Team Indoor Championships. In fall tourney action, individual players from the two squads faced each other 10 times, with the Illini holding a 7-3 advantage. Kowalczyk provided the largest upset of the fall, defeating then No. 2-ranked Delic, 6-3, 6-1, at the Napa Valley Classic in September.
SATURDAY VS. SMU: Cal claimed its fifth consecutive victory over the Mustangs, after losing the first six in the all-time series. Due to rainy weather conditions in Indian Wells, the doubles portion of the match was cancelled. In singles action, Niland, Balazs Veress, Ledvonova and Briaud claimed the four points for the Bears, while Kowalczyk and Or Dekel lost on courts three and four, respectively.
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.
DID YOU KNOW: Cal's most consistent play this season has come from courts four and six, where the Bears are a combined 18-5 through 12 matches. Kowalczyk leads on court four with a 6-1 record while Ledvonova is a perfect 6-0 on No. 6. In doubles play, court No. 2 as been the hot spot with Briaud and Veress' 6-2 record leading the way to an 8-3 overall slate.