No. 26 Huskies Back Home For Portland, UC Irvine

Jan. 20, 2010

THIS WEEK: Winners of its first two matches, Washington men's tennis is back home this week for a pair of dual matches against Portland and UC Irvine. On Thursday, Jan. 21, the 26th-ranked Huskies (2-0) will host the Pilots at 5 p.m. in what will be the first match of Portland's season. Then Saturday the Dawgs take on Irvine at 2 p.m. following the home opener for the UW women's team at 10 a.m.

LAST TIME OUT: Washington headed to the south for its first road match of the year this past Sunday, and came out with a big win over 53rd-ranked Arkansas in Fayeteville. The Huskies rallied after losing the doubles point with four consecutive straight set singles wins, with the clinching win provided by Tobi Obenaus, before Arkansas won the final two matches to make it a 4-3 final. Playing in a hostile environment for the first time this season, the Huskies responded to the early deficit with coolheaded victories up and down the singles lineup. Junior Brad Bator put UW on the board with a 6-4, 6-0 win at No. 6 singles against Matt Walters, then freshman Kyle McMorrow put the Huskies up 2-1 with a 6-4, 6-3 victory at second singles over Matt Hogan. A pivotal match came at No. 3 singles, where senior Derek Drabble faced Taylor King. After Drabble took the first set, 6-1, King held set points at 5-4 in the second set, but Drabble fought them off and then broke serve and held to finish off the match, 7-5. Obenaus clinched with a 6-4, 6-3 win at No. 5 singles over Nikolas Zogan. 81st-ranked Chris Nott got the Razorbacks a second point with a 10-8 super-tiebreak win over Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan at No. 1 singles, and Dmitry Lebedev topped junior Martin Kildahl in three sets at No. 4. Washington actually served to win the doubles point, but couldn't quite close it out. Obenaus and Alex Rosinski had an 8-6 win at third doubles, but Arkansas picked up an 8-6 win of its own at No. 2. At No. 1 doubles, Kildahl and Drabble served up 7-6 for the match, but Nott and Lebedev broke back, held, and broke once more to win 9-7.

SCOUTING PORTLAND: The Pilots have five returners from a team that went 13-9 last season and placed fourth in the West Coast Conference. Senior Filip Zivkovic leads the team and is a two-time All-WCC selection. He and senior Evan Schleining are ranked 32nd nationally in doubles, and were the winner of the PNW Intercollegiate doubles tourney hosted by the Huskies this past fall. Last season the Huskies swept the Pilots in Seattle, 7-0, though Zivkovic and Schleining did earn an 8-6 win at No. 1 doubles. Washington is a perfect 48-0 against Portland. Head coach Aaron Gross has been with the program for 14 years.

SCOUTING UC IRVINE: The Anteaters will have a busy stay in Seattle. First they will face Seattle U. on Thursday in Sammamish, before heading to the Nordstrom to play Portland on Friday, and rounding out the trip by testing the Huskies on Saturday afternoon. Thursday's match will be Irvine's first of the year. Trevor Kronemann is entering his fourth season at the helm of UC Irvine. Sophomore Fabian Matthews led the team with a 18-6 dual match record in 2009. The doubles team of junior Gautam Vaidyanathan and Steven Henderson was 15-7 in doubles to lead the team. Eight returning Anteaters earned All-Big West honors in 2009 including first team honors in singles for Henderson and Matthews. UC Irvine holds a 9-5 lead in the all-time series.

FALL SEASON REVIEW: Washington got some good news to begin the fall as junior Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan earned a preseason No. 32 singles ranking and senior Derek Drabble and junior Martin Kildahl were ranked 11th nationally in doubles. However, Kildahl was recovering from foot surgery and would be unable to compete and back up the ranking until 2010 rolled around. Still, Nedunchezhiyan started off the year playing in the main draw of the ITA All-American Championships, where he lost his opener then went 1-1 in the consolation bracket. The first full team event for the Dawgs was Northwest Regionals. Washington had its most success in doubles, where juniors Alex Rosinski and Tobi Obenaus made the semifinals, and Nedunchezhiyan and new freshman Kyle McMorrow reached the quarters. Drabble made the Round of 16 in singles, as did McMorrow in his first college action. The Huskies showed their expected singles depth as Obenaus and Matt Stith both made the consolation semis. Washington hosted the inaugural PNW Intercollegiates to end official fall action, and dominated several local rivals including Oregon, Portland, Gonzaga, Idaho, and Boise State. Nedunchezhiyan captured the top singles flight over his teammate Drabble in the final. Junior Brad Bator made his fall debut by sweeping through to the title of the second flight, beating teammate Skyler Tateishi for the win.

UP NEXT: Washington travels to perennial powerhouse Illinois four the qualifying rounds of the ITA National Team Indoor Championships. The Huskies and 15th-ranked Illinois will be joined by 22nd-ranked Boise State and No. 27 Virginia Tech. On Friday, Jan. 29, Washington and Boise State will play with the winner taking on the winner of the Illinois-Virginia Tech match on Saturday, Jan. 30., for the right to advance to the 16-team National Team Indoor Championships. The final site is in Charlottesville, Va., held Feb. 12-15.

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