California Men's Tennis Returns Home to Host Nevada and St. Mary's

Jan. 24, 2008


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BEAR NOTES: The California men's tennis team (1-1) hosts Nevada-Reno (0-0) and St. Mary's (1-1) this Saturday in a daytime dual match double-header at the Hellman Tennis Complex in Berkeley, Calif. The Golden Bears will face the Wolfpack at 9:30 a.m. and the Gaels at 2 p.m., weather and court conditions permitting. Please check for updates.

LAST WEEK: The Golden Bears went on the road to open the 2008 dual season and faced a pair of ranked teams at the Case Tennis Center in Tulsa, Okla. Matching up against No. 23 Tulsa, Cal narrowly dropped the doubles point as junior Eoin Heavey and freshman Pedro Zerbini surrendered an 8-6 decision to the Golden Hurricane. Heavey was able to regain the point in singles play but with only two other Bears notching singles wins, Cal came away with a heartbreaking 4-3 loss in the season's first match. Facing No. 11 Oklahoma State the next day, the Bears once again would be edged for the all-important doubles point as the newly formed doubles team of junior Geoff Chizever and redshirt freshman Shan Sondhu ceded the 9-8 win to the Cowboy Netters in the tiebreaker. This time, in addition to Heavey's singles win, three freshmen would capture singles points with victories. Bozhidar Katsarov and Jonathan Dahan each won in 6-2, 6-3 straight set outcomes from courts four and five respectively while fellow frosh Pedro Zerbini took care of business on court six with a 6-2, 6-2 victory. The upset win was the first for the Bears since they defeated No. 33 Washington while ranked No. 48 on Apr. 6, 2007.

HOLDING COURT - NEVADA-RENO: The Golden Bears have not faced Nevada since 1987, defeating the Wolfpack 9-0 that season. Holding a 5-0 series edge over the team from the 'World's Biggest Little City', the Bears will need to contend with Wolfpack sophomore Laurent Garcin in both singles and doubles matches. Garcin advanced to the final at the Chandler Cup before falling to Cal's Bozhidar Katsarov and also made an appearance in the Pacific Tigers Fall Invitational singles final on his way to a 10-5 overall record in the fall. Garcin also notched five doubles wins during tournament play. The Wolfpack fields a young team this season. Aside from a lone junior in Benjamin David, Nevada's roster is full of freshmen and sophomores.

HOLDING COURT - ST. MARY'S: Cal is no stranger to local foe St. Mary's, facing the Gaels for the 16th time in school history this weekend. The Golden Bears hold a perfect 15-0 record in dual matches against St. Mary's, last defeating the Gaels in a 5-1 victory last season. The Gaels are coming off a 4-3 win at Hawai'i after opening the season with a 5-2 loss to No. 18 Florida State at home. St. Mary's top doubles team of seniors Joel Kusnierz and Marek Dvorak are 2-0 on the young season and will provide a challenge to the Bears doubles. Leading the Gaels in singles play is sophomore Andrea Zannoni who put up eight victories through fall tournament play.

HEAD COACH Peter Wright: Considered one of the best teachers and tacticians in men's collegiate tennis, Peter Wright's coaching talent hasn't gone unnoticed. Pac-10 Coach of the Year in 2001 and in 1997, he 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 Big Dance the previous two seasons. Wright has compiled a 191-138 (.581) career record during his tenure in Berkeley. Last season, with a 14-10 overall record (4-3 Pac-10, tied for third), the Bears made their eighth consecutive postseason appearance in the NCAA Tournament, 13th of the 14 years under Wright's guidance. A four-year letterman during his collegiate career at Cal, Wright worked his way to the No. 1 singles and doubles positions in the Bears lineup before joining the men's professional tour in 1986.

IMPORT MODEL: Senior captain Ken Nakahara leads by example and looks to have his Golden Bears ready for matches by firing them up with his intensity and passion for the sport. He put up 10 wins in fall individual tournaments including earning the Blue Flight title at the Chandler Cup. The senior also teamed with freshman Zach Gilbert to advance to the doubles final at the Fresno State Bulldog Classic.

DON'T YAWN ON MOULLON: Senior Pierre Mouillon was named the 2007 ITA West Region Player to Watch at the end of the 2006-07 season. Coming into the dual match play, Mouillon is ready to prove what made him all the rage last season, earning him a No. 14 preseason ranking in the fall.

NO HELMET NECESSARY: Junior Geoff Chizever is one-half of the Bears' most formidable doubles team. Chizever didn't always have a racquet in his hand though. He was a record-setting quarterback for Viewpoint High School in Calabasas, Calif. where he earned Liberty League MVP honors for four consecutive years (2001-04). His record-setting ways has his name at the top of the list in his former league for most touchdowns, most completions, most yards gained and best competition percentage for a career. On the court, Chizever teamed with freshman Pedro Zerbini this fall to top all Cal duos with a 10-2 record, winning the Chandler Cup doubles title and advancing to the doubles semifinal at the Wilson/ITA Northwest Regional Championship.

HEAVEY LIFTING: Junior Eoin Heavey looks to shoulder a much larger load this season as he will play predominantly from court No. 3 in singles but will also be asked to contribute his talents in doubles. Already, Heavey has proven his mettle, clinching the upset win for the Bears against No. 11 Oklahoma State on the road with a 6 -3, 4-6, 7-5 victory over No. 77 Dmytro Petrov on Jan. 20.

BO KNOWS: Freshman Bozhidar Katsarov won more singles matches than any Bear in fall tournaments. His 13-4 mark in individual tournament play earned him singles titles at the Fresno State Bulldog Classic and the Chandler Cup. His play at the Wilson/ITA Northwest Regional Championship helped him advance to the singles semifinal. In dual matches, Katsarov will contribute from the fourth court for the Bears and has already upped his total wins to 15 as a freshman. His current winning streak stands at seven-straight matches, the longest among the Bears and just one shy of his career high.

IT'S IN THE BLOOD: Freshman Zach Gilbert is the son of former tennis pro, television commentator and current tennis coach Brad Gilbert. The elder Gilbert won 20 singles titles as a pro and reached a world ranking of No. 4 in 1990. As a coach, Gilbert has tutored many internationally renowned stars including Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick and Andy Murray.

FALL 2007 TOURNAMENTS: The Golden Bears emerged from the fall tournament season with a 64-46 record in singles matches, and notched 25 wins in doubles play. In solo competition, freshman Bozhidar Katsarov led all Bears with 13 wins and only four losses on his way to claiming titles at the 2007 Fresno State Bulldog Classic and at the Cal Chandler Cup. Katsarov's four consecutive victories in Seattle, Wash. also helped him to advance to the singles quarterfinal at the Wilson/ITA Northwest Regional Championships. Senior captain Ken Nakahara had 10 wins including five-straight to capture the Blue Flight title at the Chandler Cup. Nakahara was also able to advance to the round of 32 at the Wilson/ITA Northwest Regional Championship. In doubles play, the duo of junior Geoff Chizever and freshman Pedro Zerbini experienced the most success, advancing to the semifinal at the 2007 Bulldog Classic before getting to the quarterfinal at the Wilson/ITA Northwest Regional Championship. The pair won the Chandler Cup doubles title with four strong wins to close out the fall season.

2006-07 SEASON RECAP: The Golden Bears completed the 2007 dual campaign with a 14-10 overall record and went 4-3 in Pac-10 Conference play to finish in a tie for third place and a No. 42 ITA national ranking. Cal went to the NCAA Championship Tournament for the eighth consecutive year, tying a school record and faced No. 26 Oklahoma in Stillwater, Okla. in the first round. The Sooners edged the Bears in a 4-3 win to end Cal's season. Junior Pierre Mouillon was the Pac-10's Player of the Week for the week of Mar. 19 and received All-Pac-10 Conference First Team honors. Mouillon was also named the ITA West Region's Player to Watch at season's end. Senior Tyler Browne was an All-Pac-10 Honorable Mention and fellow seniors John Petit and Daniel Sebescen made the 2007 Pac-10 All-Academic Second Team.