Bears Come Up Just Short in Final Tourney





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Not just all good things come to an end. The mediocre ones do, too.

With the last standing members of the Cal men's tennis team stopped just short of the final round in the singles and doubles draws at the 2002 ITA Northwest Regionals in Moraga yesterday, the men have seen the last of their tournament days this fall season.

The regional winners were granted an automatic bid to the National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships in Dallas, Texas.

"It is unlikely that we will have a Cal representative at the Indoors," coach Peter Wright said.

No. 5 seed Balazs Veress looked set to move on to the finals after taking the first set of his semifinal match with

No. 2 seed Alex Vlaski of Washington, 7-6, but Vlaski quickly came back 6-2, 6-2 to advance.

Veress was able to knock off Stanford's No. 4 seed Scott Lipsky 7-6, 6-3 in the quarterfinal match, ending a three-game losing streak to Lipsky this season.

Cal had three quarterfinalists in Veress, No. 6 seed Conor Niland, and No. 9 seed Wayne Wong, more players than any other team. Three of the four

teams represented were Pac-10 teams.

Niland lost in the quarters to eventual champion Matt Hanlin of Washington, 7-6, 6-1.

Wong fell to top-seeded David Martin of Stanford 6-3, 6-3. The loss marked the end of Wong's 10-game winning streak, dating back to his first match this season at the Napa Valley Tennis Classic.

"We got a lot of quality matches in," Wright said. "Each guy had a significant win."

Many of these wins included knocking off four Stanford players in the singles draw.

The No. 6 seed doubles team of Niland and Patrick Briaud added to the

list, beating the Cardinal pair of Phil Sheng and Jonathan Wong, 8-2, in the round of 16, their first match of the tournament. The tandem team had a bye the first round and a default win in the round of 32.

Their run ended in the quarterfinal match as No. 2 seed Vlaski and Ari Strasburg of Washington dropped the pair 8-5.

"If there was a little dark spot in this tournament, that was in doubles," Wright said.

The Washington pair was able to turn around a Niland and Briaud 4-2 lead.

"We didn't play the important points as well as we should have," Briaud said. "We had a lot of chances, but just didn't finish."

Briaud and the Bears will get another chance as Pac-10 action nears.

"We're going to take a little time off and start preparing for the spring season," Wright said.

Cal's first team match is against Pepperdine Jan. 16.

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