No. 6 Bears fend off Wildcats with late rally

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It was the tennis equivalent of a fourth-quarter comeback.

On court No. 3, junior Nick Andrews was trailing, 4-1, in the first set against Jason Zafiros of Arizona. When the Wildcat athlete took the next game, all he needed was one more point to secure the match for himself and the overall lead for his team last Friday.

But Andrews stole the next game and five more after that to win the first set, 7-5.

After taking the second set in another 7-5 score, he kept the No. 6 Cal men's tennis team in the lead on its way to a 4-3 win in its third Pac-10 dual versus Arizona in Tucson, Ariz.

Prior to the match, head coach Peter Wright said that heat and high altitude could result in trouble for his program; if one player was affected by the environment on the court, then the rest of his team would have to carry him. While the contest was a close one, the Bears (10-5, 2-1 Pac-10) overcame the unfamiliar conditions.

At the LaNelle Robson Tennis Center, Cal nabbed an early lead when freshman Ben McLachlan and his sophomore brother Riki won six straight games in their 8-1 doubles match versus Zafiros and Andre Vidaller on court No. 3. Soon after, the No. 22 tandem of Andrews and sophomore Christoffer Konigsfeldt scored the doubles point for the Bears after trading early games with Geoff Embry and Giacomo Miccini in an 8-5 decision.

Cal preserved its head start with an early top-court win. Senior captain Pedro Zerbini quickly stole the first singles point of the day in his 6-2, 6-3 sweep of Jay Goldman in the latter's first match since March 4. With an 11-4 dual record gleaned entirely on court No. 1, Zerbini has made a recurring habit of quickly putting away tough opponents throughout the season, such as No. 11 Bradley Klahn of Stanford and No. 6 Henrique Cuhna of Duke.

After Zerbini's performance, the Bears and the Cats traded matches all throughout the singles portion. However, even when the overall score came down to a one-point difference, the home team never gained the lead.

Arizona got on the board next when Konigsfeldt fell to Miccini, 6-4, 6-4, on the fourth court. Cal stayed ahead with Andrews' go-for-broke upset but let the score slide to 3-2 when Ben McLachlan lost on court No. 5 in a close first-set tiebreaker and a 6-1 second set.

For the third time this season senior Bozhidar Katsarov clinched the match for the Bears on the sixth court. The match was decided in a 6-4 third set after Katsarov and his opponent Mario Urquidi traded wins in the first two.

The final match of the day ended when Andres Carrasco of Arizona defeated sophomore Carlos Cueto on court No. 2. Although Cueto won the first set, 3-6, Carrasco went on the steal the next two to gain the win. But with the match already decided, Carrasco couldn't reverse Cal's 4-3 victory.

This bout was the first in a four-match whirlwind tour the Bears will face over the course of eight days.


Annie Gerlach covers men's tennis. Contact her at [email protected]

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