Huskies Remain On Road To Face No. 28 Stanford and No. 36 Cal
April 8, 2008
THIS WEEK: The Washington men's tennis team continues its trek through the arduous Pac-10 schedule this week, heading to the Bay Area for duals against 28th-ranked Stanford and 36th-ranked California. The 25th-ranked Huskies (13-7, 1-3 Pac-10) need a strong showing to have a chance at a winning conference record, and to build momentum towards NCAA's just over a month away. Washington and Stanford serve things up on Friday, April 11, at 1:30 p.m., and the Huskies and Bears meet on Saturday, April 12, at 1 p.m.
SCOUTING STANFORD: The Cardinal are enjoying a successful rebuilding year after the perennial power struggled to a sub-.500 record last year, missing the NCAA tournament. Stanford is 2-2 in confernece play and 8-8 overall, sweeping the Arizona schools at home and losing to the L.A. schools on the road. Sophomore Richard Wire, the ITA NW Regional Singles Champion from the fall, scored Stanford's only point in each loss to UCLA and USC, and has now won five-straight. Stanford has a formidable pair atop its singles lineup, as second-ranked freshman Alex Clayton tops the lineup, followed by two-time Pac-10 Singles Champion Matt Bruch at No. 2, who is currently ranked 67th. The Huskies got just their fourth win in team history over Stanford last year, winning 6-1 in seattle. John Whitlinger is in his fourth season as head coach of the Cardinal, and has been on the coaching staff for 22 years.
SCOUTING CALIFORNIA: The Golden Bears have been invigorated by several talented freshmen this season. Jonathan Dahan, Bozhidar Katsarov, and Pedro Zerbini have all been mainstays in Cal's singles lineup. In Cal's most recent match, a 5-2 loss at USC, Katsarov and Zerbini each scored singles wins. The Bears are now 2-2 in conference play and 10-9 overall, losing to the L.A. schools, and defeating both Arizona schools at home. Sophomore Kallim Stewart is ranked 92nd and plays No. 1 singles for Cal, having posted a 7-9 dual record. Stewart and UW's No. 1, Patrik Fischer, played in the fall with Stewart getting the win at the time. Senior Pierre Mouillon was a first team All-Pac-10 performer last season and ranked 14th in the preseason, but has struggled to a 4-11 dual record this year. California leads the all-time series, 28-8, and dealt the Huskies a tough 4-3 loss in Seattle last year. Head coach Peter Wright is in his 15th season and has led Cal to NCAA bids in 13 of his 14 previous years.
LAST TIME OUT: The Huskies headed out on the road to face the Arizona schools this past Friday and Sunday, splitting the two contests. Washington defeated No. 65 Arizona on Friday, 4-3, despite dropping five of the six first sets in singles. UW relied on the back half of its singles lineup. Washington took the doubles point, then got a win from Martin Kildahl at No. 6, 6-1, 6-3 over Nate Cochrane. The next points would be a long time coming though, as Arizona took a 3-2 lead with wins at the top three singles spots. David Chu staged a major comeback at No. 5, shrugging off a 6-0 first set loss to Ravid Hazi to win, 0-6, 6-4, 6-3. With the match tied at 3-3, Derek Drabble completed his own comeback at No. 4 singles, defeating Peter Zimmer, 5-7, 6-4, 6-3. Two days later, UW suffered a 5-2 setback to 22nd-ranked Arizona State. The Sun Devils swept the doubles point, and took three singles matches in straight sets. Ryo Sekiguchi lost a tough three-setter at No. 6 singles, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4. The Huskies' two points came from Patrik Fischer at No. 1 and Andy Kuharszky at No. 3. Fischer toppled 116th-ranked Matt Brooklyn, 6-3, 6-2, to snap a three-match skid, while Kuharszky overcame Juan Carlos Rebaza, 10-7, in a third-set super-tiebreaker.
HUSKIES IN THE RANKINGS: The Huskies took a two-spot dip in the latest ITA Rankings, sitting at No. 25. The team has been ranked as high as No. 20, after beginning the season at No. 37. Based on the current rankings, the Huskies have wins over 13th-ranked Pepperdine, and 22nd-ranked Alabama. All seven of UW's losses have come to teams currently ranked in the Top-25. No new individual rankings were released this week, therefore junior Patrik Fischer and freshman Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan maintain their spots. 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 comes 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.
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 one win in singles and doubles last week, Kuharszky reached 84 singles wins and 77 doubles wins for his career. The 84 wins in singles surpassed the career total of Marius Lunde (1998-01) for seventh place on the career wins list and is two behind Eric Drew (1996-99) for sixth. Kuharszky also gained ground on the doubles wins record of 83, set last year by departing seniors Daniel Chu and Alex Slovic. With 161 combined victories, Kuharszky ranks fourth all-time, 14 combined wins behind Alex Vlaski (2001-05).
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 17 of UW's 20 matches thus far, Fischer is 9-7 with one DNF against Illinois in a match he was leading. Based on the current rankings, Fischer has wins over three ranked opponents, highlighted by his upset of 6th-ranked Andre Begemann of Pepperdine. Fischer has also defeated 120th-ranked Syketh Maneni of Alabama, and 116th-ranked Matt Brooklyn of Arizona State. 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 seven of his dual losses have come at the hands of players currently ranked in the Top-75.
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: Washington returns home next week to close out the regular season with its conference dual against the Oregon Ducks. Washington edged Oregon in the first meeting, 4-3, in Eugene. It will be the final home match for senior captain Andy Kuharszky. The Oregon dual is slated for Saturday, April 19, at 1:30 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 232 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.