Arizona Schools On Tap For Men's Tennis
April 2, 2008
THIS WEEK: Conference play continues for the 23rd-ranked Washington men's tennis team this week with the Huskies (12-6, 0-2 Pac-10) heading south to begin a four-match road stint. Washington's first stop will be in Tucson to challenge the 65th-ranked Arizona Wildcats on Friday, April 4 at 12:30 p.m. Next up will be a dual with 22nd-ranked Arizona State on Sunday, April 6, at 12 p.m. The matches will be UW's first true away matches since Feb. 29.
SCOUTING ARIZONA: The Wildcats have lost five straight after a 10-2 start and are currently 0-2 in the Pac-10. Arizona was beaten, 5-2, by both Stanford and California in the Bay Area in their last two matches. Despite the losing streak, three of the matches have come by 4-3 scores. Senior Claudio Christen has had a strong season at No. 1 singles and is ranked 74th. Christen upset second-ranked Alex Clayton of Stanford in his last match. Bruno Alcala is another senior leader for the Wildcats, and has gone 16-7 this year with four-straight wins over Pac-10 players in the middle of UA's lineup. Alcala and sophomore Ravid Hazi make up Arizona's No. 1 doubles team. Last year the Huskies earned a 6-1 win over UA in Seattle. Tad Berkowitz is currently in his third season coaching the Wildcats.
SCOUTING ARIZONA STATE: The Sun Devils were the surprise of the Pac-10 this season, winning their first 12 matches and climbing into the Top-20. However ASU's run came to a halt last weekend with a 7-0 loss at Stanford and 4-3 loss at Cal to fall to 12-2 and 0-2 in conference matches. A pair of sophomores lead Arizona State in singles. Andres Arango is ranked 61st and rose to the No. 1 spot for the Cal and Stanford matches, while 2007 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year Matt Brooklyn is ranked 116th. Senior Juan Carlos Rebaza was a first team All-Pac-10 member last year and reached the Pac-10 semis before losing to UW's Alex Slovic. The Huskies knocked off Arizona State, 6-1, last season with wins from Andy Kuharszky, Patrik Fischer, and Derek Drabble. Coaching the Sun Devils for the 25th year is Lou Belken.
LAST TIME OUT: Washington struggled with a pair of Top-10 teams in its opening Pac-10 weekend. Sixth-ranked UCLA defeated the Huskies, 6-1, on March 28, then No. 4 USC won by the same score on March 29. Against the Bruins, UW's lone point came from junior David Chu who defeated Nick Meister, 7-6 (4), 6-2, at no. 6 singles. The top three singles matches all went three sets, but UCLA was able to pull through in each instance. Junior Patrik Fischer fell, 2-6, 6-4, 7-5 to 30th-ranked Harel Srugo at No. 1, and freshman Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan was defeated, 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-4 by 21st-ranked Mathieu Dehaine. Senior Andy Kuharszky retired in his third set at No. 3 after the Bruins clinched the victory with a hamstring injury. Kuharszky would not be down for long, however, as he came back Saturday to score Washington's only point against the Trojans. The captain upset 54th-ranked Gary Sacks, 6-3, 6-4 to get UW to within 2-1 in the overall match score, but USC won the last four matches, three in straight sets. Chu nearly pulled out a second impressive win, but came up a couple points short in a third-set super-tiebreak at No. 6 singles against Andrew Piotrowski. The final tiebreak was 10-8 in favor of USC.
HUSKIES IN THE RANKINGS: Junior Patrik Fischer's stellar play of late was rewarded with his first career singles ranking in the March 18 ITA Rankings. Fischer debuted at No. 77 before dropping slightly to No. 82 in the April 1 rankings. Fischer's ranking was helped along by his win over Andre Begemann of Pepperdine (No. 6 in the current rankings). Freshman Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan is also ranked, coming in at No. 97, down from his season-high No. 82 ranking. The native of Chennai, India has posted wins over then-No. 17 Nate Schnugg of Georgia, and then-No. 95 Blake Strode of Arkansas to help boost him in the rankings. Neduncezhiyan is the first Husky freshman to be ranked since Alex Slovic in 2003, who went on to become UW's all-time combined wins leader. As a team, the Huskies slipped three spots to No. 23 this week after reaching a season-high No. 20 rank one week ago. The Dawgs began the season ranked 37th, making their biggest jump from 36th to 27th following the ITA National Team Indoor Championships, where they upset then-No. 10 Alabama.
KUHARSZKY CLIMBS THE CHARTS: Senior captain Andy Kuharszky has been a four-year stalwart in the Husky singles and doubles lineups, and this year has seen him place his name in the recordbooks alongside some of the greats in Husky history. With two wins in singles last week and a doubles win against Santa Clara, Kuharszky reached 83 singles wins and 76 doubles wins for his career. The 83 wins in singles matched the career total of Marius Lunde (1998-01) for seventh place on the career wins list. Kuharszky also gained ground on the doubles wins record of 83, set last year by departing seniors Daniel Chu and Alex Slovic. With 159 combined victories, Kuharszky passed 1999 All-American Eric Drew for fourth in Washington history.
FISCHER FINDS GROOVE: Ascertaining just who would hold down the No. 1 singles spot this season for the Huskies was one of head coach Matt Anger's toughest tasks in the fall. As the season matured, it become clear that junior Patrik Fischer was maturing in the top spot right along with it. Playing No. 1 in 15 of UW's 18 matches thus far, Fischer is 8-6 with one DNF against Illinois in a match he was leading. Based on the current rankings, Fischer has wins over two ranked opponents, highlighted by his upset of 6th-ranked Andre Begemann of Pepperdine. Fischer has also defeated 120th-ranked Syketh Maneni of Alabama. The Switzerland native was rewarded for his efforts of late by jumping into the rankings for the first time in his career, garnering a No. 77 ranking on March 18 that has since dipped slightly to No. 82. Fischer has taken care of business efficiently as well, going 17-1 against unranked players based on the current rankings. All six of his dual losses have come at the hands of players currently ranked in the Top-40.
HUSKIES NET CONFERENCE HONORS: Washington has already claimed two Pac-10 Men's Tennis Player of the Week awards this season. Senior Andy Kuharszky was named Player of the Week for Feb. 25-March 2. Washington's senior captain, Kuharszky was instrumental in a 4-3 team dual victory over Oregon as he and partner Derek Drabble helped the Huskies sweep the doubles point with an 8-4 victory over Alexander Cornelissen and Ric Mortera and then in singles Kuharszky rolled Cornelissen 6-1, 6-2. On March 1, in a neutral court match against No. 59 Denver in Eugene, Ore., Kuharszky rolled again in straight sets over David Simson, 6-3, 7-6 (5) as the Huskies picked up the victory against a ranked opponent. It is the first career Player of the Week award for Kuharszky, but was the second in as many weeks for the Huskies, as freshman Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan picked up his first award the week of Feb. 18-24. Nedunchezhiyan, playing out of the No. 1 position for the first time in his young career, knocked off 95th-ranked Blake Strode of No. 62 Arkansas in straight sets 6-1, 7-6 (2). Washington now has five all-time Player of the Week awards to its credit.
UP NEXT: Following their desert swing, the Huskies will start the trek back north, stopping in the Bay Area for matches against conference rivals Stanford and California. The Huskies will battle the 25th-ranked Cardinal on Friday, April 11, at 1:30 p.m., then visit No. 31 Cal on Saturday, April 12 with first serve slated for 1 p.m.
FALL RECAP: Three tournaments highlighted Washington's fall schedule, and the Huskies could be pleased with the results at each event. The centerpiece of the fall schedule was the ITA Northwest Regionals, which UW hosted at the Nordstrom. Senior Andy Kuharszky showed just how far he's come since he lost in the first round of the same tournament as a freshman, as he marched through to the final. Kuharszky came points away from the title, but lost in a third-set tiebreak to Stanford's Richard Wire. Patrik Fischer had the most consistent fall, reaching the singles final at the Bulldog Classic in Fresno, and the semis of the Chandler Cup in Berkeley. Junior David Chu led the team with 10 wins in the fall, while Kuharszky, Fischer, junior transfer Ryo Sekiguchi, and freshman Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan all had at least seven singles wins.
HEAD COACH Matt Anger: Thirteen years have passed since Matt Anger took the helm of the UW men's tennis program, and in that time he has established the program as a perennial national power. Not only has Washington markedly improved in records and national rankings since his arrival, the Huskies have advanced to the NCAA tournament every season since, including five Sweet 16 appearances in the last seven years. Anger, the 2005 Pac-10 Coach of the Year, has guided Washington to its best-ever stretch of Pac-10 finishes during the past three years: finishing tied for third in 2007 and 2006 and winning its first conference title in 2005. In the process, he has become the program's all-time winningest coach with 227 victories. Anger also mentored Washington's first three-time All-American and first national champion since 1924 in 2005 graduate Alex Vlaski. Vlaski won the 2003 ITA All-American Championship singles crown, becoming the first Husky to win a national title since Wallace Scott won the National Collegiate singles champion crown in 1924. Last season, Anger coached Alex Slovic to the NCAA Semifinals, the third different player (along with Vlaski in 2003 and Eric Drew in 1999) that has made the semis under Anger's guidance. Over the past 10 years, only Washington, Stanford, and Georgia have produced three different NCAA Singles Semifinalists. Anger played collegiate tennis at USC from 1982-84 and was a three-time All-American. Anger entered the pro ranks and played on the pro tour for eight years (1984-91). He earned his highest ATP singles ranking of No. 23 in the world in 1986. Anger reached the round of 16 at both the U.S. Open and Wimbledon in 1986, advanced to the third round of the Australian Open in 1985 and 1987, and also Wimbledon in 1987. He was also ranked the No. 1 junior in the world by Tennis Magazine in 1981.