No. 7 Cal (12-2) Opens Pac-10 Play at Oregon, No. 9 Washington
March 26, 2003
WHAT'S ON TAP: The No. 5 California men's tennis team (12-2) commences Pac-10 play this weekend at Oregon Friday, March 28 at 1:30 p.m. and the following afternoon, March 29 at No. 9 Washington at 1:00 p.m.
MAGIC MIK: As a freshman last season, No. 124 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 12-0 record through 14 dual 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 8-0 on six.
TOP DOG: Sophomore Conor Niland had yet to play a match on court No. 1 until Feb. 26 when Utah came to town. The 50th-ranked Irishman took to the marquee court without skipping beat, completing a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Roland Brateanu to set the wheels in motion. Until the loss Illinois' No. 6 Phil Stolt, Niland had won four consecutive matches on the top court and six overall. He also leads the team in overall wins with an 18-7 cumulative record.
ABOUT OREGON: Cal and Oregon players have met in five previous fall tournament meetings with the Bears holding the 4-1 advantage. The lone Oregon win was No. 104 Manuel Kost's 7-5, 6-2 victory over Kowalczyk in the NW Regionals Round of 16. On the doubles front, the combination of Oded Teig and Sven Swinnen ranks No. 49. As a team, the Ducks check in at No. 56 in the nation with a 7-5 record.
ABOUT WASHINGTON: Washington represents the fourth Top 10 opponent of the season for the Bears, as the Huskies rank No. 9 in the nation with a 14-0 record and a 14-match win streak. They have a pair of Top 20 singles players in No. 8 Alex Vlaski and No. 19 Matt Hanlin. Vlaski teams up with Ari Stasberg to form the 53rd-ranked doubles tandem in the country. The two squads are familiar with each other, as the Huskies hold a 6-3 tourney advantage over the Bears in singles and 2-0 in doubles.
AGAINST BYU, ILLINOIS: The Bears dismantled the BYU Cougars on Monday, 7-0, while only losing one doubles match in the victory. The long awaited return of senior All-American John Paul Fruttero was not enough, as he and doubles partner Steve Berke took the lone Bears' defeat of the afternoon. Ledvonova extended his win streak to 10 in a row and improved to 13-4 on the year. Niland also extended his record to 5-0 on the top court while improving his overall record to 18-6. The following afternoon against No. 1 Illinois, the Bears were outgunned and outmatched by the Fighting Illini from the start. Illinois claimed two of the three doubles matches and five of the six singles competitions en route to a 6-1 victory. Niland took his first loss of the season on the top court, 7-5, 6-2, to No. 8 Phil Stolt while Fruttero lost his season debut in singles play to No. 14 Rajeev Ram, 6-2, 6-2. Ledvonova kept his win streak alive with the lone singles victory, 7-5, 4-6, 1-0 over No. 74 Ryler DeHeart on court No. 6.
IN THE RANKINGS: The fourth of nine individual rankings were published by the ITA as of March 26, and three Bears made the Top 125. Niland checks in at No. 50 to head the squad, while Kowalczyk takes No. 56 and Ledvonova makes his season debut at No. 124.
DID YOU KNOW: On its 13-man roster, Cal sports eight different nationalities, including the U.S. It breaks down as: China (Wayne Wong), Denmark (Ledvonova), Hungary (Balazs Veress), Ireland (Niland), Israel (Or Dekel), Japan (Kuni Minato), Philippines (Dean Wallace) and United States (five members).
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