Tennis Takes Out Tigers in Squeaker

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For any team to be successful, it must know that it can rely on more than one person to play big when the pressure is on.

This season, the Cal men's tennis team has relied on more than one person each time out on its way to victory.

Yesterday, it was Hiro Nakamura that clinched the Bears' 4-3 victory over Clemson at Hellman Tennis Center.

"It's somebody different every day," Cal coach Peter Wright said. "I'm really happy with our performance. That (was) our best match of the year."

It was Cal's (6-3, 1-2 in the Pac-10), second win in a row after knocking off Brigham Young the day before.

The Tigers (12-9) were looking for relief on a tough road trip, but found none. Clemson dropped its fourth match in a row on its current six-game West Coast road trip, which included losses to USC, Pepperdine and Fresno State.

Cal came out slow against BYU Tuesday, losing the doubles point. But the Bears were determined not to get off to another shaky start.

"We made (doubles) a big emphasis today," John Paul Fruttero said. "That got us momentum going into singles."

To get play started, Scott Kintz and Erik Dmytruk defeated No. 11 Josh Goffi and Darren Knight, 8-5.

Fruttero and David Tzou blasted past Sandon Barth and Eric Cohn, 8-2, to give Cal a 1-0 advantage heading into singles play.

"It's such a bonus," Dmytruk said of winning the doubles point. "That means that you only have to split the singles."

And that's exactly what the Bears did. Fruttero and Robert Kowalczyk - both freshmen - stepped up their games for Cal. For the second day in a row, both scored singles victories.

"Both of those guys played big," Wright said. "Both are showing a lot of composure as freshmen."

Fruttero took out Tomasz Boniecki in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2. After that, Kowalczyk earned a three-set victory (6-1, 4-6, 7-5) over Luis Garcia.

This set the stage for Nakamura's heroics. Nakamura didn't have a strong performance Tuesday, losing, 6-2, 6-2, against BYU. But the sophomore bounced back yesterday to clinch the team victory.

"I definitely needed this match to build up my confidence," Nakamura said.

"That guy's a tough customer," Wright added. "He didn't have a great day yesterday, but clinched the win today."

Despite Marko Gojanovic's victory over Kintz in the final singles match, the Tigers were left licking their wounds for the fourth match in a row.

"It's too bad Scott couldn't put the exclamation point on the win," Wright said. "But he knew we had already won."

After suffering through three straight losses prior to Tuesday, the Bears' two-match winning streak should provide much-needed confidence as the team heads into its rematch with Stanford Saturday.

"(The victory) is going to bring us confidence," Nakamura said. "Every single one of us is playing well."

Cal will look to avenge its 5-2 loss to the Cardinal March 1. Stanford is No. 3 in the latest college team rankings and features two of the best singles players in the country, No. 2 Alex Kim and No. 15 Geoff Abrams.

Kim and Abrams also team up to form the No. 1 doubles tandem in the country.

The Bears will look to capitalize on the opportunities the team failed to take advantage of in the previous meeting, which cost Cal a chance at upsetting the Cardinal.

"I think the team is playing pretty well," Fruttero said. "We've got nothing to lose."


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