Veress Impresses in Tourney

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You'd think after the performance that Balazs Veress put on last week someone would clue him in as to where practice is.

Due to a scheduling mix-up Veress was at Channing Courts yesterday when practice was beginning over at the Hellman Courts.

You'll have to excuse the Cal freshman for his tardiness though, he's had a busy week.

Veress, who hails from Budapest, Hungary, did quite well in the first tournament of his collegiate career, making it to the quarterfinals at the T. Rowe Price National Intercollegiate Clay Court Championships in Pikeville, Md.

"It was a great opportunity for me and I had some good matches," Veress said. "I was fortunate to play on clay because I've played 80 percent of my life on clay."

Veress lost to Peter Handoyo of Tennessee, 6-4, 6-4, after a run that included victories over some highly ranked players. Handoyo is ranked the No. 23 singles player in the country.

"Balazs did better than any other freshman in the country," Cal coach Peter Wright said. "It says a lot about our program this year and what we are going to do."

Also participating in the tournament for the Bears was sophomore Robert Kowalczyk, who won his first-round match, before falling to top-seeded Brian Vahaly of Virginia, 6-1, 6-0.

Veress and Kowalczyk participated in the doubles portion of the Clay Court Championships and made it to the second round before falling to the tournament's third seeds, Huntley Montgomery and Brian Vahaly of Virginia, 6-1, 6-0.

The freshman was also fortunate to play in the tournament at all. First, Veress had to have one of his test scores cleared by the NCAA Clearinghouse, then he had to go through prequalifying to even get into the main draw of the tournament.

Once there, Veress, who is unranked, defeated Auburn senior Georges Matijasevic, who is No. 31 in the country, 7-5, 6-3.

Veress then moved on to beat No. 13 Ramsey Smith of Duke, 0-6, 6-0, 6-3. Smith, who is the son of tennis legend Stan Smith, suffered a slight back injury during the match and was not able to hold his first-set lead.

The Hungarian was not finished though, and according to Cal assistant coach Lan Bale, who accompanied the team on the trip, Veress saved his best tennis for Friday even though the freshman said he was "already dead."

Veress had to come back once again to defeat Mariano Pettigrosso of Arkansas-Little Rock. Veress lost the first set 6-7 but was able to right himself and win the final two sets, 6-3, 6-4.

"What impressed me was how when Balazs lost the first set, he kicked into a different level of determination, where he was going to bust his butt to win the match," Bale said. "It was a pretty comfortable 6-3, 6-4. He could have won the match a lot easier."

The culmination of long and grueling matches began to take its toll on Veress though, and he ran out of gas on Saturday against Handoyo.

Veress started off strong, taking a 4-1 lead in the first set. But he couldn't keep the momentum on his side and Handoyo crawled back into the set and eventually won the match in straight sets.

"Hondoyo picked up his level and Balazs was a little too tired to respond," Bale said.


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