No. 8 USC and No. 11 UCLA Visit Hellman as Bears Open Pac-10 Play

March 24, 2009


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THIS WEEK: The No. 43-ranked California men's tennis team (8-5) opens Pac-10 play this week as it hosts No. 8 USC (13-4) and No. 11 UCLA (10-4) at the Hellman Tennis Complex. The Golden Bears will take on the Trojans on Friday, March 27, at 1:30 p.m. before facing the Bruins in a 1 p.m. match on Saturday, March 28. Cal will be looking to avenge a couple of tough road losses in Los Angeles to these two teams when the Bears take the court riding high on a five-match winning streak. This Cal squad has not dropped a match since taking a break from dual play for the Pacific Coast Doubles Championships and has claimed the doubles point in 10 of its 13 matches to date. Please check and visit the men's tennis page for links to live video streaming of this weekend's matches.

LAST WEEK: The Bears took home two wins at the fourth annual Pebble Beach Collegiate Tennis Classic hosted by the University of San Francisco. Cal extended its winning streak to five matches with a 4-3 win over Southern Methodist and a 6-1 smothering of host, USF. Sophomore Pedro Zerbini won his 16th singles match of the year as he claimed Cal's first Pac-10 men's tennis player of the week honors in two years. Zerbini also notched his 22nd doubles win of the year with senior Geoff Chizever as the duo posted a big win over No. 38-ranked Adham el-Effendi and Darren Walsh of SMU. Freshman Thai Tu also got his shot at el-Effendi as the first-year Bear claimed a 6-3, 7-5 win at No. 5 singles to clinch Cal's win and earn his 14th singles victory of the year. Tu and fellow freshman Nick Andrews sealed up the doubles point for Cal against USF with their 8-5 win at No. 3 doubles over Einar Hart and Rainer Nachbauer, making it the 10th time that the Bears have won the doubles point. Sophomore Jonathan Dahan got his 14th singles win of the year as he wiped out Jacob Hartwig at No. 5 singles, 6-2, 6-0. Fellow sophomore Zach Gilbert also took the court against the Dons at court six and came up with his first dual match victory as a Bear as he defeated Michael Carreno, 6-2, 6-2. At the top court, Zerbini was efficient in usual fashion as he dispatched No. 122-ranked Thong Tu, 6-3, 6-1.

ZERBINI NAMED PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Sophomore Pedro Zerbini became the first player from Cal to win the weekly honor since Pierre Mouillon was honored almost exactly two years prior (March 19). Zerbini helped the Bears to a fifth consecutive win as Cal took out SMU, 4-3, and USF, 6-1, at the fourth annual Pebble Beach Collegiate Tennis Classic. The second-year native of Brazil earned the honor for the week of March 16-22 as he teamed up with senior Geoff Chizever (the No. 9-ranked doubles team) and ran their record to 22-4 on the year with a big 8-2 win against No. 38-ranked Adham el-Effendi and Darren Walsh of SMU and an 8-3 victory over Asaf Cohen and Thong Tu of USF. Chizever and Zerbini improved their record to 11-1 at the top doubles court in dual matches. Zerbini also won his team-high 15th and 16th singles matches of the year as he took home a 6-1, 6-2 win against SMU's David Costa before wiping out USF's No. 122-ranked Thong Tu, 6-3, 6-1.

BEARS IN THE RANKS: Cal holds the No. 43 spot in the most recent (March 24) Campbell's/ITA College Tennis Rankings. Sophomore Pedro Zerbini and senior Geoff Chizever are the No. 9-ranked doubles team in the nation.

ON COURT - NO. 8 USC: The Trojans (13-4) opened the season with a seven match winning streak but have gone just 6-4 in their last 10 matches. Three of USC's losses have been in narrow, 4-3 decisions. Last weekend, the Men of Troy claimed a 4-3 win over No. 7-ranked Baylor on the road as their final tune up before Pac-10 season begins. No. 4-ranked junior Robert Farah leads the team with a 21-4 overall record and is 10-2 at the top singles court this season. Farah and freshman Steve Johnson are ranked No. 6 in doubles and have compiled a 23-8 record while going 10-5 in dual matches at the top court. Alone, Johnson is ranked No. 93 with a 22-8 overall record (11-2 at No. 3 singles in duals). The Trojans round out their line up with No. 75-ranked senior Abdullah Magdas (18-9, 8-3 in duals) and No. 101-ranked sophomore Jaak Poldma (12-9, 7-5 in duals). Three other Trojans have broken the 20-win plateau this season with junior Jason McNaughton leading the way with a team-high 25 singles wins on the year (12-4 in duals). A pair of freshmen also have 20 wins each; Matt Kecki is 20-9 and 10-3 in duals while Daniel Nguyen is 20-7 and 8-2 in duals. USC's No. 2 doubles team features Magdas and Nguyen, who have posted a 12-6 record together with a 10-5 mark in duals. USC leads the all-time series against Cal, 123-36-4 and last defeated the Bears in a 7-0 sweep in Los Angeles on Feb. 28.

ON COURT - NO. 11 UCLA: The Bruins (10-4) have won three matches in a row and four out of their last five after coming out of a three-match losing streak while at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships. UCLA opened the year with six straight wins before hitting that rough patch at the beginning of February. The Bruins broke double-digit wins this week with a 7-0 sweep of UC Irvine as their last non-conference match before Pac-10 play began. No. 51-ranked junior Haythem Abid owns the top singles court and registered his seventh win of the year against the Anteaters. No. 74-ranked senior Michael Look is 13-3 on the year followed by No. 79-ranked junior transfer Matt Brooklyn who has amassed 17 singles wins this season already. No. 103-ranked sophomore Nick Meister is not far behind Brooklyn with 16 singles wins of his own and No. 125-ranked sophomore Holden Seguso has fought off injuries to claim six singles wins this season. The Bruins have one ranked doubles team in No. 58-ranked Abid and Meister. The duo is 7-2 on the year and 4-1 on the top doubles court for the Bruins. UCLA leads the all-time series against Cal with a 117-38-1 advantage. The Bruins claimed the last meeting in Los Angeles on Feb. 27 by a 6-1 count.

POWER OF THE PAC: The Pacific-10 Conference features six teams ranked in the top 45 of the most recent (March 24) Campbell's/ITA College Tennis Poll making it one of the toughest conferences in all of collegiate men's tennis. Stanford holds the top ranking as the Cardinal checks in at No. 4. USC is ranked No. 8 and UCLA sits at No. 11. Arizona is ranked No. 20 with the 26th-ranked Huskies not far behind to give the conference five teams in the top 26 alone. Cal checks in at No. 43 with just Oregon remaining unranked. Last year, six teams from the Pac-10 earned bids to the NCAA tournament with four advancing to the second round. USC and UCLA each advanced to the quarterfinal round where they faced each other with UCLA advancing to the semifinal match. A duo from USC won the doubles championship and Alex Clayton of Stanford advanced to the semifinal of the singles competition among just a short list of conference accomplishments.

DOUBLE TROUBLE: The Bears have won the doubles point in ten matches this season and have emerged with the team victory in eight of those ten wins. The Cal lineup features one of the top-10 doubles teams in the country in senior Geoff Chizever and sophomore Pedro Zerbini who hold down the No. 9 ranking with a 22-4 record this year. The two have owned the top doubles court in dual matches to come up with an 11-1 record there. Along the way, the tandem has claimed victories over No. 31 Inglot and Shabaz of Virginia and No. 26-ranked Childs and Childs of Louisville, both at the ITA National Indoor Championships. In dual matches, they have taken out No. 5 Donato and Foegelman of North Carolina and No. 28 Muller/Wire of Stanford. They've also claimed wins against No. 3-ranked Farah and Johnson os USC, No. 3 Brugues and Stephens of Tulsa and No. 38-ranked el-Effendi and Walsh of SMU.

FALL 2008 REVIEW: Cal enjoyed a successful fall individual tournament season, highlighted by the play of the doubles team of senior Geoff Chizever and sophomore Pedro Zerbini. The pair won the ITA Northern Cal Championship doubles title and earned an automatic berth to the ITA National Indoor Championships. The duo also won the doubles title at the Fresno State Bulldog Classic on their way to an 11-3 record together. Kallim Stewart won the coveted Norma Miner Award at the Land Rover Napa Valley Tennis Classic as he swept through his singles matches over the course of the three day tournament. Sophomores Andy Chirita and Zach Gilbert took home the Fresno State Bulldog Classic B Flight doubles title and fellow sophomore duo Jonathan Dahan and Bozhidar Katsarov advanced to the doubles quarterfinal of the ITA Northern Cal Championships. Unattached, Zerbini advanced to the singles final at the Bulldog Classic and the singles quarterfinal at the Wilson/ITA Northern Cal Championships.

HEAD COACH Peter Wright: 16th-year head coach Peter Wright has led the Golden Bears to the postseason play a school-record nine consecutive years and has only missed the NCAA tournament once in his career. He won his 200th match at Cal last season and is 211-153 (.580) overall (53-63, .457 Pac-10). His first coaching award came when he was named the 1994 Wilson/ITA Regional Coach of the Year and earned Pac-10 Coach of the Year honors in 1997 and 2001. Under Wright, nine Cal players have combined to receive 13 All-America selections. Wright has also served as Chairman of the NCAA Tennis Committee as well as on the executive board of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA).

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