Bears Set for Pac-10 Championships

April 20, 2004

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A Look at Cal: The No. 31 California men's tennis team travels to Ojai, Calif., this week to decide the league's singles and doubles champions in the Pac-10 Individual Championships. The Golden Bears (7-16 overall, 2-5 Pac-10) finished the regular season alone in sixth place in the highly competitive Pac-10 Conference.

The Bears lost their final two matches of the regular season at home vs. No. 4 USC, 5-2, and No. 3 UCLA, 7-0. Overall, Cal lost the last four matches of the regular season and six of its last seven contests. The last victory for the Bears was over No. 11 Stanford, 4-3, in Berkeley on April 6.

Pac-10 Individual Championships Format: Thirty-two players from the eight schools that sponsor men's tennis (four from each school) will compete for the singles championship. Sixteen doubles teams (two from each school) will compete for the doubles title. All matches will be held at Libbey Park. Match play begins Thursday at 8 a.m., with two rounds of singles played. On Friday, one round of singles and two rounds of doubles will be played. Semifinal and final matches will be held Saturday and Sunday at times yet to be determined.

Last year at the 2003 Pac-10 Individual Championships, Cal's John Paul Fruttero advanced to the semifinals in singles competition before falling to eventual Pac-10 champion Marcin Matkowski of UCLA, 6-2, 6-4.

Bears in the Rankings: The latest ITA individual rankings (as of April 20) have three Golden Bears ranked among the top singles players in the nation. On the strength of two big doubles wins last weekend, including an 8-6 upset over UCLA's No. 8-ranked Alberto Francis and Kris Kwinta, Cal's dynamic duo of Balazs Veress and Patrick Briaud is currently ranked No. 11 in the nation:

Singles                 DoublesNo. 17 Conor Niland     No. 11 Balazs Veress / Patrick BriaudNo. 49 Wayne WongNo. 71 Balazs Veress

Senior Shines in the Spotlight: Playing in the No. 1 or No. 2 singles spot all season, Cal senior Wayne Wong has played inspired tennis recently. Wong is 3-2 over his last five matches, but two of those victories came at the expense of No. 11 Sam Warburg of Stanford (6-3, 6-4) and No. 32 Adriano Biasella of USC (6-2, 2-6, 6-2). Wong is 18-13 overall in singles play this season and has vaulted from No. 118 to No. 49 in the nation in the latest ITA individual rankings.

Youthful Squad Dealt Challenging Schedule: Sixteen of Cal's 23 dual matches this season have been against teams currently ranked in the Top 25. With a young squad featuring five newcomers who play important roles for head coach Peter Wright, the Bears have struggled against more experienced teams this season. But 2004's tough schedule is sure to pay off in the coming years, as Cal's freshmen mature against the best competition the nation has to offer.

Close Matches: The Bears have been involved in seven dual matches that have been decided by one point this season. Cal is only 3-4 in those matches overall, but the Bears have won their last two 4-3 decisions, including victories over No. 20 Harvard (March 29) and No. 11 Stanford (April 6). Since the beginning of March, Cal is 3-2 in games decided by one point.

Wright Stuff: Head coach Peter Wright has guided the Golden Bears to nine NCAA appearances during his tenure at Cal. The ninth coach in the history of the program, he was named Pac-10 Coach of the Year in 2001 and 1997, and received his first coaching award in 1994, when he was named Wilson/ITA Regional Coach of the Year for guiding the Bears back to postseason play after Cal had missed the NCAA Tournament the previous two seasons. Wright has compiled a 147-108 (.576) career-record during his 11 years in Berkeley.

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