No. 4 Bears Head to Ojai for Pac-10 Championships
April 22, 2003
WHAT'S ON TAP: The #4 California men's tennis team (18-4, 4-2, Pac-10) finished regular season play with its best record since also taking a 18-4 slate in 1983. The Bears will begin postseason play in Ojai this weekend, April 24-27, taking part in the Pac-10 Championships. Cal finished the regular season with a 4-2 conference record, good for a third place Pac-10 finish.
BEARS IN THE RANKINGS: Sophomore Conor Niland leads the pack at #33, followed by #58 Robert Kowalczyk, #111 Or Dekel and #125 Mik Ledvonova. In doubles, Kowalczyk and senior Steve Berke check in at #10 in the nation.
ABOUT THE PAC-10 CHAMPIONSHIPS: The Pac-10 Championships is an individual event comprised of players from every Pac-10 school. The tournament style format will yield a singles and doubles champion out of the main draw. The conference is known historically for its tough tennis competition, and 2003 has been no exception. All eight of the Pac-10 men's squads are ranked, none lower than #65, including seven in the Top 40 and three in the Top 5. Individually, the Pac-10 boasts 21 ranked players, with seven in the Top 40 and two in the Top 10. The highest ranked player, UCLA's #5 Tobias Clemens, is 3-0 vs. Cal this year.
SCOUTING THE FIELD: In team competition versus the Pac-10 the Bears have accumulated the following records: 2-0 vs. Arizona, 2-0 vs. USC, 1-0 vs. Arizona State, 1-0 vs. Washington, 1-0 vs. Oregon, 1-1 vs. Stanford and 1-1 vs. UCLA. In singles play, Cal owns a 45-21 Pac-10 dual mark and in doubles action, a 20-13 slate. Individually, Kowalczyk is 12-2 vs. Pac-10 opponents, including taking 11-straight conference matchups. He pairs with senior All-American Steve Berke for a 7-1conference record in doubles play. Niland is 11-5 vs. conference opponents and Or Dekel is 9-3.
LAST WEEK AGAINST USC/UCLA: The Bears split the weekend series in LA, defeating #21 USC, 5-2, to complete a season sweep over the Trojans and dropping a 6-1 decision to #3 UCLA to split the season series. After winning four the doubles point in four consecutive matches, the Bears dropped the point in both contests over the weekend. Against the Trojans, however, Cal claimed five of the six singles matches, but lost five of six to the Bruins. Senior #58 Kowalczyk went a perfect 2-0 over the weekend, upsetting UCLA's #35 Chris Lam to remain perfect in Pac-10 dual match play with an 11-0 record.
SENIOR LEADERSHIP: Senior Robert Kowalczyk has done it all in his final season as a Golden Bear. After breaking into the Top 100 at #82 in the early spring, he has steadily climbed the charts each week, checking in at his highest ranking of the year - #58. Never before breaking the 20-win barrier in a season, Kowalczyk is currently 22-8 overall and has not lost a match since March 25. He has been even more impressive down the stretch, compiling an 11-0 mark in Pac-10 dual match play. In doubles, he has teamed with senior newcomer Steve Berke to rank as the #10 doubles tandem in the nation.
ABOUT THE POSTSEASON: Both the men's and women's squads will be participating in their respective regional tournaments, May 10-11, at a site to be determined. The selections to the NCAA Championships will take place on Wednesday, April 30 on ESPNews. The women's selection will take place at 1:30 p.m., followed by the men's announcement at 1:45 p.m.
THE LAST TIME: The Bears enter this week as the #4-ranked team in the nation, while the women's squad checks in at #5 in the country. The last time that both the men and women's teams were simultaneously ranked in the Top 5 of the USTA/ITA rankings was Sept. 18, 1991.