Jan. 30, 2012
BERKELEY - The 13th-ranked California men's tennis team (3-0) secured its first bid into the ITA National Team Indoor Championships since 2004 with a 4-0 victory against No. 27 San Diego (2-1) on Monday, Jan. 30, at the Hellman Tennis Complex, in the 2012 ITA Kick-off Weekend event. The Golden Bears will advance to claim one of 16 spots in the indoor championships set for Feb. 17-20, at the Boar's Head Tennis Club in Charlottesville, Va.
"Today, we came out and played a really good doubles point," said head coach Peter Wright. "Yesterday, we weren't firing on all cylinders, but today, we came out and played well at the outset, and I think the momentum carried over into the singles matches."
Down, 3-0, at the top doubles court, Cal's fifth-ranked duo of senior Nick Andrews and junior Christoffer Konigsfeldt roared back to take out San Diego's team of Nikola Bubnic and Thibaut Visy, 8-4, and give the Bears the upper hand in the doubles competition.
Not ten minutes later, Cal's 27th-ranked team of junior Carlos Cueto and sophomore Ben McLachlan made it official on an 8-3 win against Ciaran Fitzgerald and Patrick Pohlmann. Down at court three, junior Riki McLachlan and senior Tommie Murphy held a 6-3 lead in their match against Victor Pugliese and Clarke Spinosa but did not finish their match with the doubles point already decided.
The Bears showed great poise in singles matches as each court went ahead with first-set victories. At the top, Andrews and Bubnic split to go to three sets, as did Cueto and No. 92-ranked Pohlmann, but it was the bottom of the lineup that toed the line for the Bears to come up with three straight points in rapid succession.
Freshman Gregory Bayane finished off Fitzgerald, 6-3, 6-4, at No. 5 singles to give the Bears a 2-0 lead in the match, but Konigsfeldt put Cal in the catbird's seat when he took out No. 61-ranked Visy, 6-3, 6-3, at court four. Senior Ahmed Ismail had the honor of clinching the match for the Bears on his 6-4, 6-3 win against Pugliese down at court six.
"Ed [Ahmed Ismail] hadn't played in a dual match in a long time," said Wright, "so for him to be in that situation, and have that much pressure on him, and come through the way he did, is just wonderful; it's fantastic. The whole team was behind him, and watched him clinch the match for us and he came out with his best stuff."
It was Ismail's first completed singles match since the 2011 ITA Northwest Regional Championship in October, and his fourth win with the Bears. This one, however, sends Cal to its first ITA Indoor Championships since assistant coach Tyler Browne was a freshman on the squad in 2003-04.
"I came out, yesterday, a little nervous, and had to shake the cobwebs off," said Ismail. "Today, I felt more confident, out there, and was focusing on my match, only. I didn't know I was playing the clinching point until I saw everyone down at my court, watching. It's a nice bonus to clinch, but I'm just glad I got the win, and I'm feeling good about it."
Earlier in the day, No. 32 LSU defeated No. 25 Minnesota, 4-0, in the Kick-off Weekend consolation match. The Bears will play four more games at home before they head to Virginia for the indoor championships. Cal hosts UCLA on Friday, Feb. 3, for a 1:30 p.m. PT match, and three-time defending NCAA champion USC in a 1 p.m. match on Saturday, Feb. 4. Please visit CalBears.com for more information and www.itatennis.com for complete information about the indoor championships.
No. 13 California 4, No. 27 San Diego 0
No. 32 LSU 4, No. 25 Minnesota 0