May 16, 1998
TULSA, Okla. -- The top-seeded and 12th-ranked California men's tennis team fended off a stiff challenge from 44th-ranked Kansas and advanced to the NCAA Region V Championship final with a 4-3 victory over the Jayhawks, Saturday. The win, which was the Golden Bears second this season over Kansas, put Cal (16-6) just one match away from moving on to the 16-team NCAA Men's Tennis Championship in Athens, Ga. Cal will face No. 2 seed and 26th-ranked Oklahoma State (17-5), a X-X winner over Tulsa in the other semifinal contest, in Sunday's Region V title match.
After falling behind, 3-0, Cal had to rally back and didn't clinch the match until senior team captain Kian Raiszadeh gutted out a marathon three-set victory in the No. 5 singles position over Kansas' Trent Tucker for the dual's fourth and deciding point. Raiszadeh, who dropped the opening set, 6-3, battled back to win the second, 6-2, and then sprinted to a 3-0 lead in the third before Tucker bounced back to win four straight games of his own. Raiszadeh finally closed out Tucker and the Jayhawks by taking the matches final three games to sew up the Bears victory.
Kansas, which easily got past Oklahoma, 4-1, in the regional's opening round of play on Friday, built its early 3-0 lead behind victories in the Nos. 1 and 3 doubles spots to claim the doubles point and wins in the Nos. 2 and 3 singles positions.
"After we lost the doubles point and the first two singles matches, I was about ready to start checking the flight schedule for the next plane out of Tulsa," Cal head coach Peter Wright said following the Bears first NCAA victory since the 1995. "I knew we would have to have a big comeback and win the remaining four matches if we were going to advance."
The momentum began to swing back into the Bears favor when Cal's No. 1 player, Bobby Mahal, won a tie-breaker to take the first set in his match with Enrique Abaroa, 7-6 (3). Mahal went on to take the second set, 6-4, to give Cal its first point of the day.
Adrian Barnes, who defeated Kenny Powell 7-6 (1), 6-3, and David Sutton, a 7-6, 6-3 victor over Ed Dus, then evened the dual for Cal at three points apiece with wins in the Nos. 4 and 6 slots, respectively.
"Knowing you have to sweep the final four singles matches in order to advance is a difficult position to be in," added Wright. "It all started with Bobby's (Mahal) victory. But I'm proud of all of our guys for the way they battled back to get the win."
Men's College Tennis Region V Championship Semifinals No. 4 Seed Kansas vs. No. 1 Seed California