Men's tennis drops last home match

Senior Matt Hanlin overcame California's Conor Niland 6-4,7-6(7) in the final home match of his college career to salvage a point for Washington on an otherwise disappointing day for the ninth ranked Huskies as they lost to the #7 Bears 5-2 in Pac-10 tennis action on a mostly sunny Saturday afternoon at Quillian Stadium.

Despite many tremendous rallies in the match, it looked as if Hanlin had the match well under control and would put the first Husky singles point on the board after he won the first set and used two service breaks of Niland to jump out to a 4-0 lead in the second.

However, Niland slowly fought his way back into the match, rallying to even the set at 4, breaking Hanlin in the fifth game with a forehand approach crosscourt winner and then again in the seventh game when Hanlin smacked a forehand overhead wide. The two players then held service through the remainder of the set, ultimately forcing a tiebreak at six games apiece.

They players battled through a very tight tiebreak, with Niland having two opportunities to force a third set after leading 6-5 and 7-6 in the tiebreak. Hanlin saved the first set point with a service winner, and then after Niland hit a forehand volley winner to set up the second, Hanlin tied it again when Niland sprayed a forehand error wide.

Then, after Niland hit a forehand volley error wide to give Hanlin his first match point at 8-7, the match ended when Niland hit a forehand into the net.

The first set mirrored the second set and the second set tiebreak in how close it was, as neither player lost his serve, but Hanlin had to battle his way through eight deuces and 22 points in the seventh game to hold.

At first, it looked as if Hanlin would easily hold his serve as he took a 40-15 lead in the game, but he allowed Niland to bring the game back to deuce with a backhand volley into the net and a crosscourt forehand wide.

Hanlin had five more game points to take the lead, but he hurt his own cause with unforced errors. Niland also had two opportunities to break Hanlin, but on the first one he netted a backhand and on the second, Hanlin smacked a backhand passing shot down the line.

After the eighth deuce Hanlin got another game point on a long forehand by Niland, and he finally put the game away with a forehand crosscourt winner. Hanlin had two break and set point opportunities on Niland's serve in the 10th game, and after Niland hit a forehand long, Hanlin owned the first set and exhorted to himself, "There it is!"

Unfortunately, by the time Hanlin extended his own all-time Husky career singles and doubles victory record to 166, California had already clinched the overall victory.

Patrick Briaud and John Paul Fruttero defeated Hanlin and Dillon Ruby in #2 doubles 8-6 to secure the double point for the Bears, following a split by the two teams in the other doubles matches, an 8-4 victory by Steve Berke and Robert Kowalczyck over the Huskies' duo of Alex Vlaski and Ari Strasberg in #1 doubles, and an 8-5 victory by the Huskies' Christoph Palmanshofer and Peter Scharler over Niland and Mik Ledvonova in #3 doubles.

After singles play began, Kowalczyck put the Bears up 2-0 with a 6-2,6-2 victory over Palmanshofer in #4 singles and Or Dekel made it 3-0 Cal with a 7-6,6-1 win over Fred Sundsten in #3 singles. Ledvonova followed with the clincher, 6-2, 6-3 over Scharler in #6 singles, and Berke made it 5-0 Cal with a 6-2,7-5 victory over Ruby in the #5 spot.

Vlaski finally got the Huskies a point with a 7-5,6-3 victory over Fruttero in the #2 position, setting the stage for Hanlin's dramatic victory over Niland.

The Huskies dropped to 0-2 in the Pac-10 and lost their second straight after opening the season with 14 consecutive victories, while the Bears improved to 2-0 in conference and 14-2 overall.

Saturday's match marked the Huskies' final home appearance of the season, barring a berth as regional host May 10-11. They play the remainder of the Pac-10 schedule on the road, with a visit to Arizona State on Friday, April 4 and Arizona on Saturday, April 5.

NOTE: Saturday's match marked the final home appearance for seniors Hanlin, Ruby, Strasberg, and Matt Leon. Top Stories