No. 4 California (15-2, 2-0) Defeats No. 6 UCLA, 5-2
April 4, 2003
Berkeley, Calif. - While the Cal women were down south battling the seventh-ranked Bruins squad, their counterparts were taking care of business here in Berkeley. The fourth-ranked California men's tennis team (15-2, 2-0, Pac-10) improved to 15-2 on the season with a 5-2 victory over No. 6 UCLA at the Hellman Tennis Center in Berkeley. The team's 15-2 start is its best since the 1989 Bears also went 15-2 en route to a 24-8 finish and an NCAA Quarterfinal appearance.
Cal set the wheels in motion early, sweeping all three doubles matches, but not without a fight. Cal's pair of Floridians once again took the top court as the 25th-ranked duo of Steve Berke and Robert Kowalczyk challenged the 37th-ranked tandem of Tobias Clemens and Lassi Ketola. It was a dogfight from the start, but Cal earned the early break and a 2-1 lead. Looking to make it 3-1 with a triple-break point, a flurry of errors let UCLA back into the game and the Bruin duo rattled off eight straight points to take the 3-2 lead. Berke's serve was on fire this afternoon as he won his next two service games mixed in with another break, and the Bears took a 6-4 lead. The third break of the match proved to be the proverbial straw that broke the Camel's back as the Cal tandem rolled to the 8-4 victory.
Pairing together for the first time this season, Conor Niland and Balazs Veress took to court three against Aaron Yovan and Chris Lam. The Bears cruised out to a 4-1 lead and never looked back for the 8-5 victory while clinching the doubles point for Cal. On court two, there was a back-and-forth affair going between Cal's Patrick Briaud and John Paul Fruttero and UCLA's Erfan Djahangiri and Alberto Francis. The Bruins took a 7-5 lead in the match's later stages and looked on the way to victory. But, there was no quit in the Bears as they rattled off four consecutive games to complete the doubles sweep with a 9-7 victory.
On the singles courts, Cal opened up 1-0 leads on four of the six courts - a sign of things to come as the Bears ultimately claimed four of the six singles matches. Playing on the top court for the first time since returning from wrist surgery, Fruttero was pitted against the opposition's top player, No. 9 Tobias Clemens. Fruttero fell behind early and was never able to recover, suffering his third loss of the season in a 6-3, 6-3 defeat. Veress, in his first action since March 24, also took the plunge, but not without a fight. He rolled out to a 4-2 lead over Lam, but the 44th-ranked sophomore was able to overcome the advantage and claim the next four games for rights to the first set. Veress took the second, but fell once again in the third, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.
The rest of the singles victories belonged to the Bears. No. 50 Conor Niland joined the 20-win club with his 6-1, 6-3 decision over No. 40 Djahangiri on court two. Or Dekel earned his 10th victory of the year with a 7-6, 6-1 win over No. 99 Ketola. The Cal freshman fell behind 4-1 early, but rallied to take the wind out of his opponent by winning six straight games to take the first set and ultimately the victory.
On court No. 5, Berke handled Francis, 6-2, 6-3, for his third consecutive victory. In his first appearance of the season on court six, the 56th-ranked Kowalczyk was put to the test by freshman Aaron Yovan. The Cal senior was pushed to a third and deciding set, but his experience and maturity proved to be too much for the UCLA freshman, 6-3, 2-6, 6-1.
Cal continues its mini two-match homestand tomorrow, April 5 as it takes on No. 22 USC at noon at the Hellman Tennis Complex.
FINAL RESULTSNo. 4 California 5, No. 6 UCLA 2
DOUBLES (California wins the point)1. No. 25 Berke/Kowalczyck (CAL) d. No. 37 Clemens/Ketola (UCLA), 8-42. Briaud/Fruttero (CAL) d. Djahangiri/Francis (UCLA), 9-73. Niland/Veress (CAL) d. Lam/Yovan (UCLA), 8-5
SINGLES 1. No. 9 Tobias Clemens (UCLA) d. John Paul Fruttero (CAL), 6-3, 6-32. No. 50 Conor Niland (CAL) d. No. 40 Erfan Djahangiri (UCLA), 6-1, 6-33. No. 44 Chris Lam (UCLA) d. Balazs Veress (CAL), 4-6, 6-4, 6-44. Or Dekel (CAL) d. No. 99 Lassi Ketola (UCLA), 7-6, 6-15. Steve Berke (CAL) d. Alberto Francis (UCLA), 6-2, 6-36. No. 56 Robert Kowalczyk (CAL) d. Aaron Yovan (UCLA), 6-3, 2-6, 6-1** Clinched the match
RECORDS: No. 4 California 15-2 (2-0, Pac-10), No. 6 UCLA 16-2 (3-0, Pac-10)