Golden Bears Close Out Season Hosting No. 24 Stanford
April 16, 2008
Sat. April 19 | 1 p.m.
vs. No. 24 Stanford
Hellman Tennis Complex
April 24-27| All Day
Ojai Valley Athletic Club
BEAR NOTES: The No. 29 California men's tennis team (12-9, 4-2 Pac-10) hosts rival No. 24 Stanford (11-8, 4-2 Pac-10) in the 194th edition of the Big Smash this Saturday, April 19 in a 1 p.m. start at the Hellman Tennis Complex. The Golden Bears are fighting for sole possession of third place in the Pac-10 Conference with a win, and would complete their third season in the last four years with a 5-2 league record. The last time Cal met its rival, the Cardinal took a 5-2 win against the Bears at the Taube Family Tennis Center in Stanford, Calif. With revenge on their minds, the Bears will take the court with a chance to make one last postseason push for momentum before individuals compete at the Pac-10 Conference Men's and Women's Tennis Championships in Ojai, Calif. from April 24-27.
LAST WEEK: After falling to top Pac-10 powers USC and UCLA on the road, the Bears bounced back with impressive home victories against Oregon and a then No. 25-ranked Washington team at the Hellman Tennis Complex. Facing the Ducks, the Golden Bears won on all six singles courts for the fourth time this season but cleared the singles courts after falling in doubles for only the first time all year and for the first time in over three years since coming back from losing the doubles point to defeat TCU, 6-1 on March 11, 2005. Freshman Bozhidar Katsarov clinched the match for the Bears with his 6-2, 7-6 win over Romeo Mortera on court five. After losing the doubles point, Cal wasted no time regaining control of the match as freshman Pedro Zerbini came off the court first in singles play when he dispatched of Geoff Embry, 6-2, 6-3 on court four. Senior Pierre Mouillon did the honors against the Huskies when he served up an ace against No. 97 Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan on the second court to close out his match, winning 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-3 to notch Cal's fourth Pac-10 Conference win. Both Cal seniors Ken Nakahara and Mouillon were the final two singles to finish in a match that would mark the fifth time this season that the Bears have needed to win the final set of the final singles match in order to clinch a victory. In those five matches, Cal holds a 4-1 record, falling only to Arizona State in Tempe, Ariz. and winning against a then No. 11-ranked Oklahoma State team on the road, Arizona on the road, a No. 15-ranked Arizona State at home and against Washington last week.
HOLDING COURT - NO. 24 STANFORD: The Bears are 72-119-2 all-time against the Cardinal and fell in a 5-2 loss most recently on Feb. 23 at the Taube Family Tennis Center in Stanford, Calif. The last time Stanford had to come to the Hellman Tennis Center however, the Bears had the upper had, taking a 7-0 win against the Cardinal, losing only one match overall on the second doubles court. The win came amidst a four-match winning streak which would help position Cal for a brief postseason run later that year. The Cardinal comes into the weekend on the heels of a three-match winning streak defeating Oregon, No. 25 Washington and St. Mary's most recently. Stanford moved up four places to No. 24 in the rankings today and are led by three ranked singles players, with freshman Alex Clayton at No. 6, junior Matt Bruch at No. 76 and sophomore Richard Wire clocking in at No. 88. Clayton is 24-7 this season in singles play and was ranked as high as No. 2 earlier in the year. Wire is 23-9 on the year in singles matches overall.
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 202-146 (.580) 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. 29 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. 107 spot among singles players.
FUNKY FRESH: Cal has relied on the strength of its freshman class to provide many of its crucial victories in dual play. Together, the freshman combine for a 45-13 singles record in dual matches (a nearly 78% winning percentage), 12-3 in Pac-10 duals. Freshman Pedro Zerbini has contributed on four different courts and is currently riding a nine-match singles winning streak. Freshman Bozhidar Katsarov leads all Cal players with 29 overall wins this season against only nine losses. The top three singles performers on the team are Zerbini, Katsarov and Jonathan Dahan with 16, 16, and 12 dual match wins respectively. Zerbini and Katsarov also hold the most singles wins overall this year with 24 and 29.
TOUGH AS NAIL-BITERS: The Bears have needed to win the final set of the final singles match in order to clinch a victory in five matches this season. In those five matches, Cal holds a 4-1 record, falling only to Arizona State in Tempe, Ariz. and winning against a then No. 11-ranked Oklahoma State team on the road, Arizona on the road, a No. 15-ranked Arizona State at home and against Washington last week. In three of those matches, the Bears had to come back from losing the doubles point to win.
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 8-4 in dual matches this season and 18-9 overall.
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 20-13 in doubles matches, 10-9 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 29 as a freshman. With a win this weekend, Katsarov will be the first Bear to break the 30-win this season.
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 12-4 in dual matches and 17-10 overall on the year.
VOTE FOR PEDRO: Freshman Pedro Zerbini has proven his versatility in only his first season with the Bears, earning a 16-4 record in dual match singles play. Most impressively, Zerbini has had to compile his 16 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 24-10 in singles play and 19-13 in doubles play on the year. He enters the final regular season dual match of his freshman year riding a nine-match winning streak in singles play.
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. 107 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.