No. 15 Men's Tennis Hosts No. 5 USC and No. 7 UCLA
Feb. 25, 2010
BERKELEY - The Golden Bears welcome a couple of perennial conference powers to the Bay Area as they look to extend a three-match winning streak. Cal is riding high after taking out rival Stanford in hostile Cardinal territory and has received its first top-15 ITA ranking since February of 2006. Now, the Bears must step up the intensity as the weekend kicks off with a bout against the defending NCAA champion USC Trojans on Friday, Feb. 26. USC is ranked No. 5 in the latest ITA poll. The heavy-hitting weekend of tennis continues as No. 7-ranked defending Pac-10 Champion UCLA hits the Hellman Tennis Complex courts on Saturday, Feb. 27. While neither match will count towards Pac-10 standings, the Bears have their sights set on snapping a seven-match losing streak to the Trojans and a nine-match streak to the Bruins.
THIS WEEK: The No. 15-ranked California men's tennis team (7-1) will host a pair of Pac-10 foes ranked in the top ten in non-league matches this weekend as No. 5 USC (10-1) and No. 7 UCLA (5-2) visit the Hellman Tennis Complex. The Golden Bears take on the Trojans in a 1:30 p.m. PT match on Friday, Feb. 26, before facing the Bruins in a 1 p.m. PT match on Saturday, Feb. 27. Attendance to all regular-season home Cal tennis matches is free to the general public. Both matches will be streamed live via links on the CalBears.com men's tennis home page.
ON COURT - NO. 5 USC: The defending NCAA Champion Trojans (10-1) have reeled off three consecutive victories since falling to the same Texas team that handed the Bears their only loss of the season. In 11 matches, USC has faced just three teams without ITA rankings. While holding the top ranking in the country, the Trojans knocked off No. 3 UCLA, 4-0, in a consolation match at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships on Feb. 14. USC is led by the top-ranked singles player in the nation in sophomore Steve Johnson. Johnson is the defending ITA National Indoor singles champion and boasts a 17-2 overall record this season. No. 27-ranked senior Robert Farah has also notched 17 wins this season and commands the top court for the Men of Troy with a 7-1 mark there. No. 68 junior Jaak Poldma is 15-3 overall and has not lost a match since the beginning of the dual season with an 8-0 winning streak. No. 84-ranked sophomore Daniel Nguyen leads the Trojans with 19 singles wins. Farah and Johnson are the No. 17-ranked doubles team in the nation with Poldma and junior Peter Lucassen holding the No. 30 ranking with a perfect 8-0 record in doubles matches. USC leads the all-time series against Cal, 124-36-4, and has prevailed in the last seven meetings.
ON COURT - NO. 7 UCLA: The Bruins (5-2) are back on the winning track after dropping two consecutive matches at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships in Charlottesville, Va. UCLA has since defeated San Diego State and UC Irvine, each by a 5-2 score. The Bruins opened the season with victories in the ITA Kick-Off weekend by taking out Hawaii and Pepperdine before getting a 4-1 win over Kentucky at the Indoor Championships. UCLA then fell, 4-2, to Tennessee, and 4-0, to USC in a consolation match. Senior Matt Brooklyn holds the No. 48 singles ranking in the country and has amassed a 10-7 record in all matches this year. He is followed by No. 71 senior Haythem Abid, who plays at the top singles court for the Bruins and has claimed four victories since returning to the lineup. No. 96 junior Nick Meister has totaled 11 singles victories as has No. 100 junior Amit Inbar. UCLA does not have any ranked doubles pairs. The Bruins lead the all-time series against Cal, 118-38-1, and have won the last nine matches between the two teams.
BEAR TRACKER: All of Cal's home matches at the Hellman Tennis Complex will feature live video with scoring. Visit the men's tennis home page at CalBears.com for links. Admission to all regular-season home tennis matches is free to the general public.
PHOTO OPPORTUNITY: Fans and media can purchase Cal men's tennis photos at GoldenBearSports.com, the official photographer of Cal Athletics. Follow @GBSports on Twitter to get instant notifications when new albums and galleries are posted to the website. Visit www.twitter.com/gbsports to follow.
LAST TIME OUT: The Bears won their third straight match for the second time this season in dramatic fashion as they battled to come back from a 3-1 deficit and defeat Stanford, 4-3, in a non-league match at the Taube Family Tennis Stadium. Down, 3-1, Cal won three straight singles matches and snapped a four-match losing streak to the Cardinal No. 111-ranked freshman Christoffer Konigsfeldt completed his three-set victory over No. 34 Alex Clayton at the second singles court. Stanford claimed the doubles point and went ahead by two points as Bears fell on singles courts four and six. No. 31-ranked junior Pedro Zerbini breathed life into the Bears as he pulled out a three-set win over No. 18 Bradley Klahn on the top court by winning the third-set tiebreaker, 7-4. Junior Bozhidar Katsarov also used a 7-4 score in his third-set tiebreaker to pull the match into a three-all tie as he defeated Matt Kandath at the fifth court. Konigsfeldt pulled out the win at court two next to give the Bears a 4-3 win. For his efforts, Konigsfeldt was selected as the Pac-10 Player of the Week for a second time this season.
BEARS IN THE RANKS: The Bears are ranked No. 15 as a team in the most recent (Feb. 23) Campbell's/ITA (Intercollegiate Tennis Association) College Tennis Poll. The ranking is Cal's highest in four years since it held the No. 14 ranking on Feb. 26, 2006. The Bears have three ranked singles players led by No. 31-ranked junior Pedro Zerbini. Junior Jonathan Dahan checks in at No. 78 next with freshman Christoffer Konigsfeldt holding the No. 111 spot. In doubles, sophomore Nick Andrews and Konigsfeldt are ranked No. 22 and have played the entire dual season at court two. Dahan and Zerbini received their first ranking as a doubles team on Feb. 23, as the No. 33-ranked team in the nation.
POWER OF THE PAC: Six of the seven Pac-10 men's tennis teams hold rankings; all within the top 25 of the most recent (Feb. 23) Campbell's/ITA College Tennis Poll--making it one of the toughest conferences in men's collegiate tennis. Defending NCAA Champion USC leads the conference as the fifth-ranked team in the country with defending conference champion UCLA in tow at No. 7. Stanford stands at No. 14 with the Bears just a step back at No. 15. Washington checks in at No. 23 with Arizona hot on the trail at No. 25. Just Oregon is without a ranking. In 2009, in addition to producing the national champion, the Pac-10 produced five ITA All-America selections and was home to the National Rookie of the Year in Stanford's Bradley Klahn.
KONIGSFELDT DOUBLES UP ON CONFERENCE HONORS: Freshman Christoffer Konigsfeldt was selected Pac-10 Men's Tennis Player of the Week for the week of Feb. 1-7, and repeated the feat for the week of Feb. 15-21. The native of Denmark led the Golden Bears to victories over Fresno State, Hawaii and Stanford to capture his two honors and becomes just the third Cal player to receive the honor twice in the same season. He was also the Bears' first freshman ever to win the award and is the eighth all-time Pac-10 Player of the Week selection for the Cal men.
WHERE'S THE BEEF?: Junior Pedro Zerbini is a carnivore in every sense of the word. As somewhat of a contrarian to his surroundings, Zerbini prefers the taste of meat over that of vegetables. In fact, he chooses not to eat vegetables as a regular part of his diet. While Berkeley is widely known to provide many vegetarian and vegan dining options to the dense population of herbivores in the city limits, Zerbini may be the only meat-only eater on campus.
BROTHERLY LOVE: Freshman Christoffer Konigsfeldt is the younger brother of the top singles player at UC Santa Barbara, Alex Konigsfeldt. A 6-1 junior for the Gauchos, the elder Konigsfeldt advanced to the round of 32 at the 2008 ITA Regional Championships and was once ranked fifth nationally in Denmark's under-18 rankings. He won the 2007 Danish Junior Championship and reached the National Outdoor Championships semifinals in 2006.
FALL 2009 REVIEW: The Bears concluded the 2009 fall individual tournament season with several notable achievements. Cal had four singles players and four doubles teams advance to at least the round of 16 in the Wilson/ITA Northwest Regional Championship. In singles, sophomore Nick Andrews made his way to the round of 16 where he was joined by freshman Christoffer Konigsfeldt, and juniors Bozhidar Katsarov and Pedro Zerbini. Konigsfeldt moved one round further before bowing out but Katsarov and Zerbini each advanced to the semifinal round, with Zerbini moving on to the championship match. While he was knocked out in the opening round, sophomore Sky Lovill turned things around and won the singles back draw with five consecutive victories. Andrews and Konigsfeldt; junior Jonathan Dahan and Zerbini; junior Zach Gilbert and Lovill; and the team of Katsarov and freshman Riki McLachalan all advanced to the doubles round of 16 with Andrews and Konigsfeldt moving ahead to the semifinal. Konigsfeldt claimed the singles championship at the Saint Mary's Invitational and went all the way to the doubles final with Zerbini. On the other side was Andrews and Lovill, but the two pairs never played the match. Andrews alone had a shot at the singles title, but fell to Konigsfeldt, and Katsarov also made it to the singles semifinal. Dahan and Zerbini showed strongly at the D'Novo/ITA All-American Championships as the duo moved into the round of 16 after getting three wins in the qualifying rounds.