Men's Tennis Heads To Pac-10 Tourney





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They're called the Pac-10 Championships, but they might as well be the NCAA Tournament Preliminaries.

The conference features some of the best men's tennis teams in the country. The Pac-10 has three teams - Stanford, UCLA, and USC - in the top-20.

The Cardinal - the regular-season conference champs - and the Bruins are one-two in the latest Intercollegiate Tennis Association Poll. The Trojans are No. 17.

Stanford boasts the top doubles combo in the country in Geoff Abrams and Alex Kim, who are No. 8 and No. 6, respectively, in singles play. UCLA and USC both have doubles teams ranked in the top-10.

All of that considered, this weekend's tournament is sure to provide plenty of postseason-quality play and give individual players and doubles teams one last shot at making the NCAA Tournament.

Cal (12-10, 2-5 in the Pac-10), a fixture in the top-50 all season, has all but clinched a team berth. The Pac-10 tourney, which begins today in Ojai, Calif., and will conclude Sunday, will give individual players a chance to qualify for postseason play in singles and doubles.

"We're looking forward to a good, solid trip," Bears coach Peter Wright said. "It's a good chance for (players like) Ben Miles and Robert Kowalczyk to qualify for the NCAAs after their (doubles) win over USC this weekend."

In last Saturday's loss to the Trojans, Miles and Kowalczyk scored their biggest win of the season, handing No. 4 Ryan Moore and Nicholas Rainey an 8-4 defeat.

The duo hopes to join Scott Kintz and Erik Dmytruk, who appear to have locked up a postseason berth with a No. 19 national ranking and two wins over top-20 opponents.

But Kintz and Dmytruk will not add to their 24-win total this weekend - Dmytruk will be staying in Berkeley to rest up for regionals, along with injured teammate Adrian Barnes.

Barnes is still resting his surgically repaired shoulder in hopes of being able to contribute in the postseason. Dmytruk is staying back not due to injury, but to give his body a break.

"I'm just taking a little bit of a break," Dmytruk said. "I needed about a week off. My last few matches have been tough."

With Miles and Kowalczyk making a push for the NCAAs, Dmytruk doesn't think his absence will hurt his doubles team's postseason seeding.

"It could help (by not playing)," Dmytruk said. "It would be worse if I went down and wasn't ready to play. It would be bad if we went down there and lost in the second round."

Only two Cal players head into Pac-10s with winning singles records - freshmen Kowalczyk and John Paul Fruttero. Fruttero has played in the No. 1 and No. 2 spots all season and looks to make a push at earning a place in the NCAAs.

"If J.P. (Fruttero) does well he can get in the (NCAA) singles," Dmytruk said. "It's a tough tournament. It's easier said than done."

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