Five-Seed Huskies Bound For Inaugural Pac-12 Team Tourney
THIS WEEK: The Pac-12 Championships brings the Husky men’s tennis team to a familiar locale, Ojai, California, but this year’s tournament will have a decidedly different feel, as a team champion will be crowned for the first time ever. All eight Pac-12 men’s teams will be in the mix for the team title, with Washington earning the No. 5 seed overall and opening up this Wednesday, Apr. 25, against No. 8 seed Arizona. That match is the first of the weekend, set for 11 a.m., which means a quick turnaround for the Dawgs, who just wrapped the regular season on Saturday afternoon with a 6-1 win over Oregon. The winner of that match will advance to play No. 4 seed California, which has a first round bye, on Thursday. Semifinals are on Friday, and the final is set for Saturday, Apr. 28, at 4 p.m. The Huskies (15-7, 3-4 Pac-12) defeated the Wildcats, 7-0, in their regular season meeting just two weeks back on April 15 in Seattle.
PAC-12 TEAM CHAMPIONSHIPS
WEDNESDAY-SATURDAY, APR. 25-28
OJAI, CALIF. • LIBBEY PARK
Wednesday, 11:00 a.m. - (5) Washington vs. (8) Arizona
PAC-12 TOURNEY NOTES: The Pac-12 tournament has been played in conjunction with the Ojai Valley Tennis Tournament for years, and that tradition continues despite the format change. Past years saw individual singles and doubles champions crowned. This year, the eight teams are seeded based on their regular season conference records. UCLA claimed the regular season title with a 7-0 record, upsetting No. 1-ranked USC in the season finale. The top-seeded Bruins and the second-seeded Trojans have two byes until the semifinals on Friday. No. 3 Stanford (5-2 Pac-12 mark) and No. 4 California (4-3) have byes in the first round. The fifth-seeded Huskies (3-4) face the eighth-seeded Wildcats (0-7) on Wednesday, while No. 6 seed Oregon (2-5) takes on No. 7 Utah (1-6) play in the other first round match-up, with the winner playing Stanford. The winner of the tournament earns the Pac-12’s automatic bid to the NCAA Championships.
HUSKIES IN THE RANKINGS: The Intercollegiate Tennis Association released new rankings today, April 24, but there was no movement for the Huskies on the team or individual front. As a team, the Huskies remain at No. 26. On March 6, the Dawgs jumped up to a season-high No. 13, then were ranked 17th over the next two weeks. The No. 13 ranking was the highest Washington has been ranked since the 2006 season, when they were 10th during the year before finishing 18th. The Dawgs began the season ranked 26th nationally after ending the 2011 season ranked 25th. In the newest individual rankings, junior Kyle McMorrow checks in at No. 22 in singles, as he has been in the Top-25 all year. He has been ranked as high as No. 9 this season, making him the fourth Husky ever to crack the Top-10 in the ITA singles rankings. In the fall preseason rankings, he checked in at No. 22. After a solid fall season with some big wins, he moved up to 15th at the start of January, then to No. 9 on Feb. 16. McMorrow joins a select group of Huskies to crack the ITA’s Top-10. Alex Vlaski reached a peak of No. 2 during the 2004 season, Robert Kendrick rose to No. 3 nationally in 1999, and Alex Slovic was ranked No. 9 in 2005. All played for current Husky Head Coach Matt Anger.
DAWG BITES: Kyle McMorrow has posted 10 ranked wins this season, including five over current top-41 players and two over No. 7 Evan King of Michigan, and five of his losses this year have come to players currently ranked in the Top-10 in the nation ... McMorrow’s career dual record is up to 54-17, a .761 winning percentage ... the Huskies are 11-0 this season when winning the doubles point but just 4-7 when they don’t grab the early 1-0 lead ... Max Manthou had a team-best seven-match win streak in singles from Feb. 12 to Mar. 23 ... Marton Bots picked up his first career ranked win on Apr. 13, with a win over 50th-ranked Slim Hamza of Utah ... Emmett Egger also has two ranked wins to his credit this year, and Max Manthou has one.
SENIOR SALUTE: Washington is graduating two players this season, Matt Stith and Skyler Tateishi. Both fifth year seniors, both have come a long way with their games and been model student-athletes with consistent success in the classroom. Each have been to the NCAA tournament every year in their careers. Stith has seen the most dual match action of his career this season, playing an integral role in doubles. His previous season-high in dual match starts was five, but this season Stith has already started 18 matches, and his 14-10 overall doubles mark this year is the best on the team percentage-wise. Tateishi has battled back from a significant shoulder injury that wiped out his 2011 season right when he had been playing some of his best tennis. He returned for a fifth year and won singles matches this spring against Seattle U. and Eastern Washington, taking his career dual singles record to 5-0.
LAST TIME OUT: After a slow start to Senior Day, the Husky men’s tennis team got rolling in singles action and thrilled the rowdiest crowd of the season with a 6-1 victory over the Oregon Ducks in the regular season finale. Seniors Matt Stith and Skyler Tateishi were saluted before the match under the sunny skies at Bill Quillian Stadium. The Huskies struggled in doubles play, dropping every match as Oregon came out aggressive and UW started tentative. But as was the case in the first meeting between the two teams in February, Washington shook off the doubles point loss and came up with the needed singles wins. Junior Marton Bots got the Huskies on the board quickly with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Jeff Mullen at No. 3 singles. That made it 1-1 overall, as UW was in the process of winning all six first sets in singles. At No. 1 singles, 22nd-ranked junior Kyle McMorrow was mixing it up with Oregon’s tricky No. 1, Robin Cambier. After getting broken when he served for the first set at 5-3, McMorrow broke right back to take the set, 6-4, and then pulled away game by game in the second for a 6-1 win that put UW up 2-1. Freshman Viktor Farkas stopped Aaron Clissold, 6-4, 6-4 at No. 5 singles. Fellow true frosh Emmett Egger clinched things at second singles, as he held off Alex Rovello, 6-3, 7-6 (7-5). Just a few moments later, redshirt freshman Nicholas Kamisar wrapped up a 6-4, 6-4 win over Jose Izquierdo at No. 6 singles to push the lead to 5-1 thanks to UW’s trio of rookies. Sophomore Max Manthou finished things off with a win at the four spot over Daniel Sardu. He rolled in the first set before letting the second set slip away, but Manthou quickly shifted the momentum back in the third set and ran away with it for the 6-2, 2-6, 6-0 win.
UP NEXT: The month of May means NCAA tournament play, with the Huskies in good shape for an 18th consecutive selection to the 64-team tournament. Should they make the field, first and second round play would be on May 11-12 or 12-13 at one of 16 regional sites. The final 16 teams will be playing in Athens, Georgia.
HEAD COACH MATT ANGER: The turning point in modern Washington tennis came with the hiring of Matt Anger, now entering into his 18th 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 since 2000. Under Anger’s watch, Washington has posted a winning record in all of his 17 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 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 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. Starting with the Australian Open in 1985 through Wimbledon in 1987, no American won more Grand Slam singles matches. In that span, Anger reached the round of 16 at both the U.S. Open and Wimbledon in 1986.