Golden Bears Head South for Clash of Pac-10 Unbeatens at No. 4 UCLA and No. 5 USC
April 2, 2008
Fri. April 4 | 1:30 p.m.
at No. 4 UCLA
Los Angeles Tennis Center
Los Angeles, Calif.
Sat. April 5| 1 p.m.
at No. 5 USC
Marks Tennis Stadium
Los Angeles, Calif.
BEAR NOTES: The No. 31 California men's tennis team (10-7, 2-0 Pac-10) hits the road one last time this regular season to take on No. 4 UCLA (15-1, 2-0) Friday (April 4) in a 1:30 p.m. match at the Los Angeles Tennis Center and No. 5 USC (15-3, 2-0) Saturday (April 5) in a 1 p.m. start from the David X. Marks Tennis Stadium. The Golden Bears opened the Pac-10 Conference season with two wins against the visiting Arizona schools last weekend. Cal took a 5-2 win against a No. 55-ranked Wildcat team before gritting out a 4-3 upset victory over a No. 15-ranked Arizona State team. USC, UCLA and Cal each enter the weekend undefeated in conference play. USC faces No. 25 Stanford before coming to Berkeley. The Cardinal is also undefeated in Pac-10 play. Please check CalBears.com for updates.
LAST WEEK: The Bears walked away from their Pac-10 opening weekend unscathed with a perfect 2-0 record after rolling up wins against Arizona and No. 15 Arizona State at Hellman Tennis Complex in Berkeley. Cal made short work of the Cats, claiming the doubles point and the first three singles matches off the court. Senior Pierre Mouillon clinched the win against Arizona with his 6-3, 7-6 defeat of Andres Carrasco on court two. The Sun Devils flipped the script on the Bears by taking wins on all three doubles courts but the Bears stormed back to take a 2-1 lead in the match before the Devils put Cal on the ropes by jumping back up to a 3-2 advantage. Freshman Jonathan Dahan tied things up one last time with his 6-2, 6-4 win against Juan Carlos Rebaza on court four. Junior Eoin Heavey needed just one break against Arizona State's Harry Skinner to complete the 6-4 win in the third set to record Cal's second Pac-10 win of the season. Freshman Bozhidar Katsarov extended his winning streak to five singles matches and pushed his win total for the year to a team-high 26.
HOLDING COURT - NO. 4 UCLA: Four-time defending Pac-10 Champion UCLA holds the country's No. 4 ranking and has also begun conference play this season with a 2-0 record. The Bruins claimed a 5-2 win over the Bears back on Feb. 3 after Cal took the doubles point. Freshman Pedro Zerbini was the only Bear to scratch the victory column in singles play with his win over Nick Meister on court six. The Bears fell twice to UCLA last season, each time by a 7-0 count and are currently 38-115 all-time against the Bruins. UCLA is led by senior Mathieu Dehaine, who holds the No. 23 ranking. Fellow senior Harel Srugo isn't far behind at No. 38. The third ranked Bruin player is freshman No. 45 Holden Seguso. Fellow freshman, Meister is No. 59 when teamed with Srugo in doubles play. Although they are not ranked, junior Michael Look and senior Jeremy Drean hold a 15-1 dual match record this season, playing all of their matches on the No. 3 court.
HOLDING COURT - NO. 5 USC: The Trojans and Bears were only able to play singles matches the last time the two teams met back on Feb. 1 as USC came away with a 4-2 win. The Trojans are riding a six-match winning streak heading into their weekend in Northern California and will face a No. 25-ranked Stanford team before coming to Berkeley. Last time, the two Cal points were earned when sophomore Kallim Stewart upended a then No. 9-ranked Robert Farah on the top court and senior Pierre Mouillon dropped No. 43 Gary Sacks. Farah is now ranked No. 7 while Sacks holds down the No. 53 spot. Senior Kaes Van't Hof clocks in at No. 34 while freshman Jaak Poldma is No. 87. The USC lineup also boasts the No. 2 doubles team in the country, pairing Farah and Van't Hof on the top court. USC's six-match run includes wins at No. 4 Texas and No. 8 Tulsa. The Trojans also hold a 120-36 edge against Cal all-time.
HEAD COACH Peter Wright: Considered one of the best teachers and tacticians in men's collegiate tennis, Peter Wright's coaching talent has not 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 200-144 (.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.
BEARS IN THE RANKS: The Bears opened the season ranked No. 39 in the ITA NCAA Division I Men's Collegiate Tennis rankings but moved up to No. 26 after upsetting No. 11 Oklahoma State on the road in Tulsa, Okla. Cal currently holds the No. 31 ranking in the nation. The Bears finished 2007 with the No. 42 ranking but have held the No. 2 ranking at the end of the season on four occasions, and the No. 3 spot on three occasions. Most recently, under the direction of head coach Peter Wright, the Bears were No. 4 to close the 2003 season after advancing to the NCAA Quarterfinal and compiling a 21-5 overall record. Cal won the National Championship in 1925 with a 4-1 record. Individually, sophomore Kallim Stewart is the only Bear ranked in the ITA rankings, holding the No. 92 spot among singles players.
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. Nakahara is 7-2 in dual matches this season.
NO HELMET NECESSARY: Junior Geoff Chizever is one-half of the Bears' most formidable doubles team no matter the partner. Chizever didn't always have a racquet in his hand. 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 tennis 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. To date, Chizever is 18-11 in doubles matches, 8-7 in dual match doubles play.
HEAVEY LIFTING: Junior Eoin Heavey looks to shoulder a large load for the Bears this season as he will play predominantly from court No. 2 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. Heavey also clinched the Bears' upset win over a No. 15-ranked Arizona State team on March 29 with his 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 win against Harry Skinner.
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 has contributed to the Bears' success with wins on courts four and five in dual play and has already upped his total singles wins to a team-high 26 as a freshman.
DAHAN DYNSASTY: Freshman Jonathan Dahan started his first year at Cal quietly with a 5-6 record during fall tournaments. Since the opening of dual match play, Dahan has made major strides at solidifying his legacy at Berkeley. He is 12-3 in dual matches and 17-9 overall on the year.
VOTE FOR PEDRO: Freshman Pedro Zerbini has proven his versatility in only his first season with the Bears, earning a 12-4 record in dual match singles play. Most impressively, Zerbini has had to compile his 12 wins across four different courts. The Brazil native has also contributed key wins for the Bears on two different doubles courts and with different partners. Overall, Zerbini is 20-10 in singles play and 17-11 in doubles play on the year.
THE SOUND OF MUSIC: Sophomore Kallim Stewart has contributed to the success of the Bears over his two years on the court but when he's not running around with a racquet in his hand, he's deep into his music. Stewart is an avid keyboardist and enjoys playing and composing pieces as a hobby. Stewart is currently ranked No. 92 in the country among singles players and holds three victories against ranked opponents including a 7-5, 6-4 win over No. 121 Claudio Christen of Arizona; 6-4, 0-6, 6-3 against UNLV's No. 69 Elliot Wronski; and a stunning 6-4, 6-2 upset of a No. 9-ranked Robert Farah of USC.
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 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.