Washington Continues Homestand With Portland And San Francisco

Jan. 13, 2009

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THIS WEEK: Things start to heat up for the Washington men's tennis team, as the Huskies (1-0) host two matches and face their first ranked opponent of the season. Washington, currently ranked 34th, heads into the weekend with a Friday evening dual against Portland at 5 p.m. On Sunday, the Huskies face 67th-ranked San Francisco with first serve scheduled for 12 nooon. The matches will be UW's final preparation before top-ranked Ohio State comes calling the following week. Both matches are at the Nordstrom Tennis Center and admission is free for all spectators.

SCOUTING PORTLAND: Friday's match will be the first of the 2009 season for the Pilots, who posted a 12-9 record in 2008 and finished sixth in the West Coast Conference. Junior Filip Zivkovic was a perfect 18-0 in dual singles matches last season at No. 2 singles, and earned All-WCC First Team honors. Senior Joel Kincaid returns after manning the No. 1 singles spot for the Pilots last season. Last year the Huskies defeated the Pilots, 5-2, with Portland earning a surprising doubles point win with victories at first and third doubles. UW then went on to win five singles matches with ease and improve to 47-0 all-time against Portland.

SCOUTING SAN FRANCISCO: For the first time in more than 30 years, the Dons of San Francisco open the season nationally ranked, coming in at No. 67 in the first ITA poll. Senior Tommy Tu returns as USF's No. 1 singles player, and is the 21st-ranked player in the West Region. Tu earned second team All-WCC honors last season and went 13-9 in No. 1 singles matches. The Dons took fourth-place in the West Coast Conference last season, and finished with a record of 15-8. San Francisco will face Portland on Saturday at the Nordstrom before playing the Huskies on Sunday. UW and USF have split the all-time series, 2-2.

LAST TIME OUT: The Washington men's tennis team started the year off on the right foot last Saturday, sweeping Eastern Washington 7-0 at the Nordstrom Tennis Center in the season-opener for both teams. Patrik Fischer showed he's not planning to give away anything during his senior year, as he drubbed Nico Riego de Dios, 6-0, 6-0 at the No. 1 singles spot. Sophomore Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan was nearly as stingy, defeating Kyle Schraeder, 6-0, 6-1, at the No. 2 position. Sophomore Martin Kildahl moved all the way up to No. 3 singles from No. 6 where he closed out last season, and picked up a 6-2, 6-2 win over Art Karas. Senior David Chu, junior Derek Drabble, and senior Ryo Sekiguchi followed suit with straight set wins at the four, five, and six spots, respectively. The Huskies also swept the doubles point, with Kildahl and Nedunchezhiyan teaming up for the first time at No. 1 doubles, and Brad Bator and Alex Rosinski getting their first dual match start at No. 3.

UP NEXT: Washington will face the nation's No. 1 team as Ohio State visits the Nordstrom Tennis Center next Sunday, January 25 for a 12 noon match. The Buckeyes have three players currently ranked in the top-six of the ITA singles rankings.

2009 SEASON PREVIEW: After an influx of six newcomers last season, with nine players in their first or second year on the team, inexperience mixed with talent to produce an up and down season that ended in the first round of the NCAA Championships. This year, having lost only one starter, Andy Kuharszky, the Huskies as a whole are one year older and wiser and hope that their games will reflect that. Washington has seven returning players that started seven or more dual matches last year, led by senior Patrik Fischer, and sophomore Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan. Fischer and Nedunchezhiyan held the top two singles spots last season, with Fischer earning All-Pac-10 Second Team honors and Nedunchezhiyan getting honorable mention. Veterans Derek Drabble and David Chu are back and should be entrenched in the singles lineup, along with sophomore Martin Kildahl, who came on strong at the end of 2008 and could find himself playing much higher in the order. For a complete season preview with head coach Matt Anger's thoughts on the season, visit www.gohuskies.com.

2008 BRINGS ANOTHER TOURNEY APPEARANCE: For a team with six newcomers, just one senior, and one of the nation's most difficult schedules, the 2008 season figured to be a challenge. Looking back on the season, the Huskies bore the marks of what they were from the start, a very talented but inexperienced team. Thrilling home victories over highly-ranked teams such as Alabama and Pepperdine were countered by struggles on the road, where the Huskies played four of their seven Pac-10 matches. Washington hosted the ITA National Team Indoor Championships in February, scoring a win over then-No. 10 Alabama, but losing close calls to No. 2 Georgia and No. 11 Illinois. From that point, the Huskies went on a seven-match win streak, including a 4-3 win over Pepperdine who ended the year ranked 14th. Pac-10 play started at home against the conference's top two teams, UCLA and USC, and the Huskies struggled for the only time at home, losing 6-1 in both matches. From there UW picked up a road win at Arizona, but lost three straight conference road matches, the toughest a 4-3 defeat at Cal. Washington then bounced back with a sweep of the Ducks in their season finale to finish at 2-5 in Pac-10 play. The Huskies earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Championships, where for the second year in a row they faced Wisconsin in the first round. Unfortunately the result was the same as in 2007, as the Badgers ended the Huskies' season a little too early for their liking. The UW finished with a 14-10 record. Senior Andy Kuharszky led the team with 14 dual match wins, mostly at No. 3 singles, followed closely by the 13 of junior Patrik Fischer, who assumed the No. 1 singles spot and finished the season ranked 95th. Fischer and freshman Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan, the top two singles players, comprised the top doubles tandem, going 8-6 at No. 1 doubles.

THE SCHEDULE: Once again Washington has assembled a nonconference schedule featuring several of the elite teams in the nation to challenge them, along with the always difficult Pac-10 conference slate. The first major test for the Huskies comes just two weeks into the season, as UW hosts Ohio State on January 25. The Buckeyes finished last season ranked third in the nation and with several returning All-Americans, are one of the favorites for the 2009 title. After the Ohio State match, the Huskies will head across the country to Athens, Georgia, home of the two-time defending NCAA Champion Georgia Bulldogs. This year is the first time that the ITA National Team Indoor Championships, which Washington routinely hosts, has expanded to include qualifying rounds. Four-team qualifying brackets will be held throughout the country, with Washington, Indiana, and South Carolina entered in the bracket hosted by Georgia. The Huskies will play Indiana on January 30, with the winner potentially facing Georgia for the right to play at National Team Indoors in Chicago. Also highlighting the home schedule is the Great Northwest Shootout held from February 6-8. This year's event is a three-team round robin between Washington, Oklahoma, and Boise State. Other significant home matches include Oregon (Feb. 20), Fresno State (Feb. 22), Minnesota (March 6), Texas A&M (March 8), Arizona (March 29), and California and Stanford on April 10th and 11th, respectively. The Huskies also make a trip to Malibu where they will play Michigan in a neutral site match on Feb. 27, before going up against Pepperdine on March 1. The Wolverines were 16th in the final ITA rankings last season, while the Waves finished 12th. Washington will also make a trip to the L.A. schools in early April, and conclude the year with its annual trip to the Pac-10 Championships in Ojai, Calif. from April 23-26.

FALL RECAP: The Huskies played a light fall season, with just two tournaments for the majority of the team. One group of Huskies traveled to San Diego for the Bulldog Classic from Oct. 3-5, while Patrik Fischer and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan went to Tulsa, Okla. for the D'Novo ITA All-American Championships from Oct. 6-8. Competing in the qualifying singles draw, both Fischer and Nedunchezhiyan won their initial singles matches, but lost in the next round. Teaming up for doubles, the pair won their first two matches over tandems from Southern Illinois and Tulsa, but came up one win short of making the main draw as they fell to Pepperdine's top-seeded Altmann and Beidas. At the Bulldog Classic, Derek Drabble reached the quarterfinals in singles and in doubles with Martin Kildahl, and redshirt freshman Matt Stith registered his first college wins. The fall season ended with ITA Regionals, where UW excelled in doubles play. Three different Husky doubles duos made the Regional quarterfinals, and Fischer and Nedunchezhiyan advanced to the final match, ultimately coming up short against Cal's Chizever and Zerbini. Ryo Sekiguchi closed his fall season with a flourish, winning six-straight matches to take the consolation singles title.

HEAD COACH Matt Anger: The turning point in modern Washington tennis came with the hiring of Matt Anger, now entering into his 15th season as head coach. Since his arrival, the Huskies have been a model of consistency, and consistently excellent at that. The winningest coach in Washington history, Anger's teams have never once missed the NCAA Championships and have been a fixture in the Top-25 with five runs to the NCAA Round of 16 in this decade alone. Under Anger's watch, Washington has posted a winning record in all of his 14 seasons, and won its first ever Pac-10 title in 2005 as Anger was named Pac-10 Coach of the Year. Furthermore, several of Anger's players have seen tremendous individual success, with seven of the top eight winningest players in UW history competing during his tenure. Five different singles players have earned All-American honors under Anger, 10 different players earned year-end Top-50 rankings, and Alex Vlaski captured the 2003 ITA All-American Championships, the first national title for a Husky since 1924. In addition, Anger is the only active coach who over the past 10 years, has guided three different players to the NCAA Singles Semifinals. Anger played collegiate tennis at USC from 1982-84 and was a three-time All-American, while leading the team to a top-five finish three consecutive years. In 1983, he was a Pac-10 singles finalist and helped lead the Trojans to a third-place NCAA finish. The next season, Anger won the Pac-10 doubles championship, was a Pac-10 singles semifinalist, and helped USC win the conference team title. At the conclusion of his junior season, 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.

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