Husky Men Seek Pac-10 Singles and Doubles Crowns
April 21, 2004
- THIS WEEK: The Pac-10's elite singles and doubles players converge on Ojai, California for the Pac-10 Championships starting Thursday, April 22 and continuing through Sunday, April 25. Four singles players and two doubles teams from each of the conference's eight schools will compete for the singles and doubles crowns. The 19th-ranked Huskies will be represented by All-American junior and sixth-ranked Alex Vlaski, 27th-ranked freshman Alex Slovic, freshman Daniel Chu and junior Christoph Palmanshofer in singles, as well as the doubles teams of Vlaski and Chu, ranked 20th, and Slovic and senior Nick Weiss. Vlaski has finished as the Pac-10 runner-up the past two years and is the highest-ranked participant. Washington (14-8, 4-3) finished the regular season in fourth place in the Pac-10.
THE TOURNAMENT: The Pac-10 singles draw consists of 32 players, four from each conference member. The doubles field is comprised of 16 teams, two from each member. Matches begin at 8 a.m. PT on Thursday, April 22, with two rounds of singles on opening day. One round of singles and two rounds of doubles will be played on Friday. Semifinals and final matches will be held Saturday and Sunday at a time yet to be determined. Thursday's first-round singles matches for the Huskies are as follows: Alex Vlaski faces Daniel Andrus of Arizona at 12:30 p.m., Alex Slovic takes on Jonathan Kinsella of Arizona State at 8 a.m., Daniel Chu battles No. 84 Roger Matalonga of Arizona at 11 a.m., and Christoph Palmanshofer faces No. 61 KC Corkery of Stanford at 9:30 a.m. In Friday doubles action, Vlaski and Chu match up against Arizona's Whi Kim and Tom Lloyd at 9 a.m. and Slovic and Weiss will test the 24th-ranked Stanford pair of Carter Morris and Sam Warburg also at 9 a.m.
TOURNEY BOUND...Alex Vlaski: Junior All-American Alex Vlaski (Belgrade, Yugoslavia) continues on his way to a potential national championship as the anchor of the Huskies' singles lineup. He is seeking his first Pac-10 title after making the final both his freshman and sophomore years. Vlaski reached the NCAA semifinals last year and has been ranked in the top-ten throughout the 2004 season, currently ranked sixth. This fall, Vlaski became the first Husky national champion since 1924 by winning the ITA All-American Singles Championship. As the fourth seed in the prestigious tournament, Vlaski defeated three players ranked in the top-20 of the ITA rankings en route to the title, also defeating fellow tourney participants Chris Lam of UCLA and KC Corkery of Stanford. Always facing the opposition's top gun, Vlaski has amassed an exceptional 17-3 record against ranked foes this season including eight wins over players in the top-25, and four over top-10 players. His overall record stands at 24-5. Vlaski is carrying a six-match winning streak into the tournament, five of the wins coming over other tourney entrants. Vlaski's 87 wins put him in fourth place on UW's career singles wins list.
Alex Slovic: Vlaski is not the only left-handed 'Alex' from Yugoslavia that has been dominating the singles courts this season. Freshman Alex Slovic (Pancevo, Yugoslavia), a childhood friend of Vlaski's, has made an immediate major impact on the collegiate tennis world. In the latest ITA Rankings, Slovic shot up to a new career high of 27. Slovic now sits as the second highest-ranked freshman in the nation. Slovic leads the Huskies in dual and total wins this season and is 25-5 overall. The freshman already owns nine wins over ranked opponents and earlier this season recorded an 11-match winning streak, the 11th win coming in an upset of then-33rd-ranked William Barker from Rice in a third-set tiebreaker on Feb. 28. Slovic has dominated most of his competition, winning 24 of his 25 matches in straight sets. His win against Barker was the first three-set win in his career. Some of Slovic's notable victories have come over fellow Pac-10 Tourney entrants such as Sven Swinnen, Johan Berg, Wayne Wong, and James Wan.
Daniel Chu: Washington has received significant contributions from freshman this year and a large part of that has been thanks to Daniel Chu (Vancouver, B.C.). Chu began dual play with a seven-match winning streak, during which he earned a big win over Harvard's No. 77 Cliff Nguyen in UW's 4-2 victory in the National Team Indoors. Chu won 12 of the first 15 matches of his college career. One of Chu's strengths has been his performance in tiebreaks, where he owns a 7-2 record. In UW's dual versus UCLA, Chu upset 82nd-ranked Chris Lam in straight sets for one of the Huskies' only two points. Chu notched four wins in Pac-10 play, all but one at the No. 3 singles spot. Chu's 18-11 record ties him for third on the team in total wins. He spent the early season mainly at fourth singles, going 8-2, before moving up to No. 3 singles where he has gone 4-6.
Christoph Palmanshofer: The junior Palmanshofer (St. Georgen, Austria) is Washington's second returnee to the Pac-10 competition, along with Vlaski. Palmashofer fell in the first round to UCLA's Chris Lam a year ago. Palmanshofer started strong this year, reaching the semifinals of the ITA NW Championships and defeating No. 89 James Pade of Stanford in the quarters. The junior won seven of his first eight matches and nine of his first 12, playing in the third singles position for the first eight dual matches. He was ranked as high as 61st early in the season. Palmshofer snapped a three-match losing streak with a three-set comeback win over Jonathan Kinsella of Arizona State to clinch the win for the Huskies on March 8. Palmanshofer picked up three wins in Pac-10 play, each win coinciding with a Husky team victory. Palmanshofer has compiled a 14-11 record this year.
DOUBLES TEAMS: Alex Vlaski and Daniel Chu have already earned themselves a No. 20 national ranking despite only playing ten matches together. Four wins over top-15 teams will lead to that. Vlaski and Chu showed instant chemistry by upsetting TCU's 10th-ranked duo of Rafael Abreu and Fabrizo Sestini in their first match together. Since that initial victory, the tandem has also knocked off the No. 8 team and tourney's top seed, Francis and Kwinta from UCLA, as well as two different pairs, both ranked 12th, from Cal and USC. Chu and Vlaski are 7-3 overall. UW's second doubles team, Alex Slovic and senior Nick Weiss are 8-2, having won their first eight outings before losing their last two in close 8-6 and 9-8 sets. Slovic leads the Huskies with 20 doubles wins, followed closely by Weiss and Vlaski with 19. Weiss has shown great versatility by picking up his 19 wins with four different partners.
PAC-10 INVITATIONAL: In addition to the four singles players and two doubles teams in Ojai for the main draws, Washington has three singles players and one doubles team participating in the Invitational Pac-10 tournaments. Senior Nick Weiss, freshman Chris Floyd, and freshman Michael Ricks are entered in the singles draw, which follows a similar schedule as the main draw. Two rounds of singles Thursday, quarterfinals Friday, semifinals Saturday and the final on Sunday morning. Ricks and Floyd are the only UW team competing in the doubles Invitational and play their first match Friday morning.
LAST YEAR AT THE PAC-10 CHAMPIONSHIPS: The Huskies return two players who competed in last year's Pac-10 singles draw. Junior Alex Vlaski advanced to the singles final for the second straight year as a sophomore, falling to UCLA senior Marcin Matkowski, 6-4, 6-2, in the final. Christoph Palmanshofer also was entered last year as a sophomore, but lost in the first round.
FINAL PAC-10 STANDINGS: The men finished in sole possession of fourth place in the Pac-10 standings with a 4-3 record. USC and UCLA shared the conference title with 6-1 records, followed by Stanford who finished 5-2. Arizona finished fifth at 3-4, California was sixth with a 2-5 record, and Oregon and Arizona State tied for seventh place with 1-6 marks. The Huskies' four wins came over each of the four teams beneath them in the standings.
LAST TIME OUT: In the regular season conclusion, Washington downed the Oregon Ducks 6-1 to earn their fourth Pac-10 win of the year. The Dawgs swept every singles match against the Ducks after losing the doubles point. Alex Vlaski and Alex Slovic both avenged earlier losses to their Oregon opponents, Vlaski beating No. 88 Manuel Kost 6-1, 7-6 (7) at No. 1 singles and Slovic upending No. 35 Sven Swinnen, 6-1, 7-5, at No. 2 singles. Freshman Chris Floyd won his first match since late February at sixth singles. Juniors Christoph Palmanshofer and Peter Scharler earned straight set wins at fourth and fifth singles, and freshman Daniel Chu won his fourth match at No. 3 singles, in three sets over Thomas Bieri.
UP NEXT: Following the Pac-10 Championships, UW waits to find out where it will be sent for the NCAA Regionals, scheduled for May 14-15. The Huskies have won their regional the past three years, advancing to the Round of 16 in each instance.