Seniors Bid Farewell Versus Cal And Stanford

April 7, 2009

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THIS WEEK: Washington closes out its home slate this weekend against the 37th-ranked Cal Bears and the 8th-ranked Stanford Cardinal. The Huskies (12-7, 1-2 Pac-10) are looking to send their three senior starters out on a high note at home, before the regular season ends with one final match next week at Oregon. David Chu, Patrik Fischer, and Ryo Sekiguchi are the three Huskies that will play in front of the hometown fans for the final two times this week. Currently ranked 21st, UW will serve it up against Cal on Friday, April 10, at 1 p.m., then take on Stanford on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. The action will take place outdoors on UW's Bill Quillian Courts. Admission is free for all fans.

SENIORS NEAR CURTAIN CALLS: Just two home matches remain for Washington's trio of seniors, and Patrik Fischer, David Chu, and Ryo Sekiguchi have all enjoyed winning seasons, exemplifying the success they've achieved throughout their careers. Fischer, an All-Pac-10 Second Team member last year, has played at either No. 1 or No. 2 singles in every match for the last two years and currently ranked 113th in singles. Fischer has been tough in Pac-10 play so far, defeating Arizona's Andres Arango and USC's 74th-ranked Jaak Poldma, before barely losing to UCLA's Holden Seguso in a third-set tiebreak at No. 1 singles. Currently 15-8 in singles play, Fischer could get into contention for an NCAA Singles spot with a pair of wins this weekend. Chu has been extremely solid for the Dawgs in singles as well, going 10-5 in dual matches and playing in every spot from third through sixth singles at least twice. Chu's 64 career singles wins are second-most of any Husky, trailing just one win behind Sekiguchi, who owns 65 wins from his two seasons at San Diego and two at Washington. Sekiguchi is coming off an outstanding weekend in Los Angeles, as he defeated USC's Jason McNaughton and UCLA's Ahmed Ismail in the No. 6 singles spot. In just his two years at UW, Sekiguchi has gone 35-20 in singles. He put together a nine match win streak from the end of the fall through the start of the dual season that is the longest by any Husky this year. In their nine combined seasons at Washington (Fischer began his career as a sophomore), Chu, Fischer, and Sekiguchi have racked up 154 singles wins, and Washington has qualified for the NCAA Championships every year of their tenures.

SCOUTING CALIFORNIA: The Bears come in ranked 37th with a 9-8 record but have been playing very well of late. Cal upset 20th-ranked Arizona last week in Tucson, giving the Wildcats their first home loss of the year. The Bears nearly followed that with a second Top-20 upset, as they fell, 4-3, to 17th-ranked Pepperdine Tuesday afternoon on their Senior Day. No. 2 singles player Eoin Heavey and doubles specialist Geoff Chizever are Cal's only seniors. Helping Cal to its recent surge has been sophomore Pedro Zerbini, who has ascended to the top singles spot and won the last two Pac-10 Player of the Week awards. Zerbini is ranked 81st in singles. Zerbini and Chizever are ranked 13th in doubles and defeated UW's Fischer and Nedunchezhiyan to win the Northwest Regional title in the fall. Five of Cal's singles starters are either freshmen or sophomores. Last season the Bears eked out a 4-3 win over the Huskies in Berkeley, as the teams split the six singles matches and Cal won doubles, 2-1. Cal owns a 29-8 advantage in the overall series.

SCOUTING STANFORD: The Cardinal have enjoyed a resurgent season this year, and at one point reached No. 1 in the ITA Rankings before dropping to their current No. 8 spot. However, Pac-10 play has been rocky for the Cardinal, as they lost consecutive 4-3 matches to UCLA and USC, and then were stunned by 20th-ranked Arizona, 4-2, last weekend, dropping them to 0-3 in conference and 13-5 overall. Stanford will play Fresno State on Wednesday then Oregon on Friday before reaching Seattle. One reason Stanford struggled against the Wildcats was they played without their No. 1 player, Alex Clayton, the 2008 Pac-10 Player of the Year and ITA National Freshman of the Year. Clayton is currently ranked 22nd in singles play. Bradley Klahn is one of the top freshmen in the Pac-10, and is ranked 50th. Junior Richard Wire is also ranked 102nd, and sophomore Greg Hirshmann is 117th. Wire and senior Blake Muller are ranked 34th in doubles. Last season, Stanford earned a 5-2 win over UW in Palo Alto. Washington took the doubles point and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan defeated two-time Pac-10 Champ Matt Bruch at second singles. The Cardinal lead the all-time series, 31-4.

LAST TIME OUT: The Huskies knew they were in for a challenge visiting 6th-ranked USC and 9th-ranked UCLA last week, but making the trip all the more hazardous was the fact that No. 1 singles player Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan was unable to compete due to illness. Without him, Washington still fought well but came up short in each match. Agaisnt the Trojans, senior Patrik Fischer moved up to No. 1 singles and dispatched 74th-ranked Jaak Poldma in straight sets for one of his best wins of the year. The Huskies also got wins from Tobi Obenaus and Ryo Sekiguchi at fifth and sixht singles, but USC won the remaining three matches and its earlier doubles point win resulted in a 4-3 victory. The next day, the Bruins handed the Huskies a 6-1 defeat, though the match was closer than the scores would indicate. Fischer fell 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 at No. 1 singles to Holden Seguso, and Derek Drabble fell in a third set super-tiebreak. Washington's lone point came once again from Sekiguchi, who defeated Ahmed Ismail, 7-5, 2-6, (10-6).

HUSKIES IN THE RANKINGS: Washington held firm in the latest ITA Rankings released Tuesday, holding onto the No. 21 spot despite losing twice last week to two Top-10 teams. The most recent individual rankings date back to March 31. In that poll, sophomore Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan comes in at No. 40 and senior Patrik Fischer checks in at No. 113. Nedunchezhiyan achieved a career-high No. 31 ranking on Feb. 19. Fischer and Nedunchezhiyan are also ranked 43rd in doubles, despite playing just four times together during the dual season.

NEDUNCHEZHIYAN CONTINUES TO ROLL: In two month's time, Husky sophomore Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan has taken his still still young career to a higher level. The sophomore from Chennai, India is a team-best 15-2 in dual play, with wins in 12 of his past 13 matches and a current five-match win streak. In his most recent match against a ranked opponent, he rallied from a set down to sink Arizona's 64th-ranked Jay Goldman, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4. One of Nedunchezhiyan's two setbacks came in a third-set super-tiebreak against the nation's third-ranked player, Steven Moneke of Ohio State back on January 25, but the close loss only seemed to boost his confidence. Nedunchezhiyan won seven straight following that match, and defeated five ranked opponents including four in the Top-50. He has earned two wins over Top-25 players this year, one coming against 22nd-ranked Clancy Shields of Boise State and the other against 24th-ranked Conor Pollock of Texas A&M, who is now ranked 19th. For his wins against Indiana and Georgia in National Team Indoor qualifying, Nedunchezhiyan was named the Pac-10 Men's Tennis Player of the Week for the week of Jan. 26-Feb. 1. The honor was the second of his career, and the sixth all-time for Washington.

UP NEXT: The Huskies play their regular season finale on the road in Eugene next week against the Oregon Ducks. Washington will look to achieve a result similar to the first meeting between the teams this year, when UW swept Oregon on Feb. 20 in Seattle. The match is set for Saturday, April 18, at 1:30 p.m. The following week will find the Huskies in Ojai, Calif. for the Pac-10 Championships 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 in 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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