In 2005 Washington went 6-1 in league play and shared the conference title with the eventual NCAA champion UCLA Bruins. Overall the Huskies finished 20-5, advancing to the Round of 16 in the NCAA tournament for the fourth time in five years. They also finished with a final ranking of #14, the second best in school history, surpassed only by their #12 finish in 2003.
The Huskies face a great challenge in
matching or bettering their 2005 mark, especially
after losing three seniors, Alex Vlaski (16-5),
Christoph Palmanshofer (17-6), and Peter Scharler
(15-7), who accounted for 48 of 94 singles points.
With the departure of Vlaski the Huskies also lose a
three time All-American (2003,2004, and 2005) and
their all-time career record holder in singles
victories with 111.
Despite the losses, plenty of
talent remains, headed by junior Alex Slovic, the 2004
Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) and Pac-10
Freshman of the Year, and currently ranked #32 in the
country in singles. Juniors Daniel Chu and Mike Ricks
also return, along with sophomore Andy Kuharszky.
Newcomers Pierre Metenier, Jean-Noel Insausti, Klaus
Jank, David Chu and Andy Gerst join the Huskies and
get their first taste of college action this season.
The Huskies begin the season ranked #16 by the
ITA. According to head coach Matt Anger, "Last year we
finished in the computer ranking at #14. If we had
been healthy the entire season, we might have been in
the 8-12 range since we didn't lose a match outside
the top five after the first weekend in March as
Slovic got a little more healthy. This is not a
computer ranking so putting us a little lower with our
losses (in personnel) is fair. I don't know where we
should be since we have so many new student/athletes.
We have a lot of talent so we could be a very strong
team - stronger than ever."
Asked about the returning players stepping up,
Anger commented, "We will ask a lot of our returning
players. We need each of them to jump up a notch.
Kuharszky seems to have done that, and Ricks is
improved as well. Kuharszky, one of our co-captains,
will either play higher in the lineup or if he plays
in the same range, will win at a far greater
percentage. His doubles has improved and I think he
can move up from third to second doubles this season.
Over the summer Ricks was our most improved player and
is in the mix this season in both singles and doubles.
I also think that he will benefit from last year's
experience of playing third doubles and be that much
more comfortable with a greater role this season.
"Both Slovic and Daniel Chu were up and down in
the fall, but look pretty sharp now. Slovic is our
other co-captain and certainly a team leader and has
proven himself as a winner. Through the Pac-10 season
last year, he lost only one doubles match and didn't
lose in singles. I think that he will be successful
this season and play higher in the lineup. Daniel Chu
is feeling more and more comfortable with his doubles.
In the past, I think that he just followed Alex, but
he is now taking on a greater role in their
partnership. Also, I am hopeful that his singles
will be more consistent this year."
As for the newcomers making an immediate
contribution, Anger said, "The new guys that are
eligible will have to get used to college tennis
pretty quickly. I believe that Pierre Metenier and
Jean-Noel Insausti will be starters. Pierre is very
solid and has the ability to be successful high in the
lineup right away. He is also a very gritty
competitor. Jean-Noel is talented and will come up
with some highlight shots this year. He and Pierre
seem to be great team guys and are really looking
forward to the team matches. Jean-Noel will
contribute right away in singles and doubles."
"The other new guys will certainly be in the mix
with Klaus Jank leading the way followed by David Chu
and Andy Gerst. Jank is improving and used to playing
on the hard courts. He is practicing better and should
be a factor for us this season. David Chu is Daniel's
younger brother, but the similarities stop there. He
is right handed and more of a baseline player. He has
been absolutely fantastic in practice with his work
ethic and attitude. He will do well for us when he
gets in the lineup. Andy Gerst is very talented and
improving daily. He will play for us and we will see
him right away in doubles."
This year the Huskies get the chance to see how
they stack up against the best teams in the country
when they host the USTA/ITA National Team Indoor
Championships for the fourth time. 15 teams will join
the Huskies for the ITA's most prestigious event, held
at the Nordstrom Tennis Center and Seattle Tennis Club
from Friday, February 17 through Monday, February 20.
Usually the event provides a preview of the top
contenders for the NCAA title in late May, and this
year's field includes 2005 Indoor Champion Baylor (ITA
rank #7), Duke (8), Florida (2), Florida State (11),
Georgia (3), Illinois (4), LSU (10), Mississippi (6),
Pennsylvania (49), Pepperdine (9), South Carolina
(12), NCAA Champion UCLA (5), and Virginia (1). Two
more teams will complete the field after the ITA
Cental and Mountain regions hold play-in tournaments.
"The USTA/ITA National Team Indoor
Championships are certainly a thrill to host," Anger said.
"Obviously, the matches are exciting and fun to be a
part of, but all of the matches are exciting. Over
time, the teams in college tennis get more and more
even and so these matches are incredibly close. Even
if fans in Seattle aren't able to watch Washington,
they see fantastic tennis. In 2004, the last time we
hosted, it seemed that every match took at least four
hours even if the score ended up 4-1 or 4-2. It really
looks like we will see more of those types of matches
this February. We have an agreement to host in 2008
The Huskies begin the rugged Pac-10 season at
California on Friday, March 31. In addition to the
Huskies, Pac-10 teams currently ranked in the ITA Top
20 include UCLA (5), Stanford (14), Cal (19), and USC
"The Pac-10 is a long way off at this point," Anger said.
"While UCLA and Washington finished at the top
last year, we also will have the most new faces. The
other teams will return a lot of experience and might
be favored if we played today, but by spring, who
The Huskies begin the dual season when they host
the Idaho Vandals on Friday, January 20 at 5 p.m. at
the Nordstrom Tennis Center. Then they return to the
court at 4 p.m. on Saturday, January 21 to face
2006 Men's Tennis Preview
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