Trojans Break Bears for Second-Round Triumph

Cal Folds to USC for the Third Time This Season After Dismissing Boise State in the First Round

Photo: Bozhidar Katsarov, who set a freshman record for 35 singles wins in 2008, wrapped up the Bears'4-2 victory over Boise State in the first round of NCAAs on Saturday.
Mike Seeman/File
Bozhidar Katsarov, who set a freshman record for 35 singles wins in 2008, wrapped up the Bears'4-2 victory over Boise State in the first round of NCAAs on Saturday.


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The stage was set for an upset only seen in theaters. The Cal men's tennis team was to face bitter conference rival No. 6 USC at its home stadium with a bid to the Sweet 16 on the line. This was the same Trojans team that had already beaten the Bears twice in the regular season.

However, there was no third time the charm for Cal (13-11, 4-3 in the Pac-10) as it lost 4-0 to USC (21-4, 6-1) at David X. Marks Tennis Stadium in Los Angeles yesterday. With the win, the Trojans will be heading to Tulsa, Okla., this week for the Round of 16.

The Bears got off to a rocky start losing their first two doubles matches to fall behind 1-0. A quick win by Trojans' Abdullah Magdas on court five pushed the lead to 2-0. Magdas defeated freshman Jonathan Dahan in straight sets 6-3, 6-0.

Junior Eoin Heavey fought to keep his squad in contention on court three but fell 6-2, 6-2 to Jaak Poldma, putting Cal in a 3-0 hole that it could not climb out of.

"We didn't play poorly, I just think USC was really on top of their game," coach Peter Wright said. "They were at home, they were sharp and they just showed (Sunday) that they were a better team than we were."

Historically, the Trojans aren't just good-they have won the NCAA Championship 16 times. USC came into the match on Sunday having drubbed their first-round opponent Southern University by a similar score of 4-0.

"I think all the guys fought really hard. USC was just a little bit better at handling the pressure," senior Ken Nakahara said. "But I really wanted the younger guys to make it to the sweet 16."

Nevertheless, the Bears set a new school record for consecutive postseason appearances with nine; Cal has made it to the tournament 14 out of the last 15 years. Bozhidar Katsarov also set a freshman record with 35 singles wins.

"This year, out of my four years, has been by far the most exciting," Nakahara said. "We had our ups and downs, but overall it was the richest year I've had at Cal."

Despite the Bears' troubles facing USC, Nakahara would certainly consider Saturday's 4-2 victory over Boise State in the first round a proverbial "up."

Wins by the Broncos' Luke and Clancy Shields on the first two courts over Kallim Stewart and Pierre Mouillon, respectively, brought Boise State within one point, to the count of 3-2.

But Katsarov defeated the Broncos Paul Koenke 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-0 to seal up Cal's playoff victory.

"We played a great match against Boise State," Wright said. "That was a feisty team. They were very tough competitors."

Though the Bears' season may be over, an impressive returning freshman class gives Cal high hopes for the future.

"We like to think we are building on something for next year," Wright said. "It is always a challenge to make the NCAA Tournament, and I was proud of our guys' performance in the season to get us here. It was a very exciting season overall."

Tags: NCAA TOURNAMENT


Contact Joshua Linville at [email protected]



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