SDSU Men's Tennis Gears Up for Two Matches This Week

Feb. 27, 2008


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* The 50th-ranked San Diego State men's tennis team continues its homestand this week when it plays host to Fresno State on Thursday, Feb. 28, beginning at 1:30 p.m. at Aztec Tennis Center. Following its tilt with the Bulldogs, SDSU welcomes Rice to Montezuma Mesa on Monday, March 3, with another 1:30 p.m. starting time. The Scarlet and Black will face a pair of stiff challenges this week as Fresno State arrives on Montezuma Mesa with a No. 53 ranking in the latest ITA poll, while the Owls check in at No. 24.

SDSU evened its record at 3-3 after a 5-2 triumph over visiting Memphis in its last outing on Feb. 23. In that match, the Aztecs escaped with the doubles point and then took four out of six singles encounters in straight sets to win going away.

* Fresno State (8-2) has been on a roll recently, winning six straight after falling to San Diego, 4-3, on Feb. 2. During the streak, the Bulldogs have outpointed their opposition by a combined margin of 37-3, including shutouts against Oregon, Nevada, Santa Clara and Nebraska. In its last outing, Fresno State posted a 4-2 upset of then-No. 28 Boise State in a WAC showdown at home.

Individually, the Bulldogs are led by the potent combination of senior Rudolf Siwy and sophomore Mirko Zapletal, who have split time atop the Fresno State singles ladder. Siwy, who was ranked at No. 92 in the preseason ITA poll, and Zapletal each possess an 8-2 record in dual-match competition, along with freshman Siddarth Alapati. Siwy has also experienced success in doubles competition, posting a 6-1 dual-match record playing alongside Zapletal and sophomore Taylor Leiby.

At the controls for the Bulldogs is fourth-year head coach Jay Udwadia, who helped Arkansas to three appearances in the NCAA tournament as a player in the 1990s.

* The Bulldogs hold a slim 7-5 lead over the Aztecs in the all-time series dating back to 1989. The two schools met on a regular basis in the 1990s when San Diego State was a member of the Western Athletic Conference. However, SDSU has not faced Fresno State since the 2000 season when the Scarlet and Black dropped a 4-3 nail-biter in Fresno.

The Aztecs are 27-12 since 1989 against teams under the current WAC alignment. SDSU routed Hawai'i, 6-1, in its last meeting with a WAC opponent on March 24, 2007, in Honolulu. The Aztecs and Warriors will square off again later this season on April 2, in San Diego. SDSU will also travel to Boise, Idaho, to engage WAC members Idaho and Boise State in a pair of matches March 7-8.

* Rice (7-2) had a seven-match winning streak of its own snapped on Feb. 24 in a 4-3 loss to No. 5 Texas in Houston. Prior to that defeat, the Owls recorded victories over five nationally ranked schools, including a comefrom-behind 4-3 upset of then-No. 10 North Carolina on the road.

Leading the Rice attack is sophomore Bruno Rosa, who is currently ranked 26th in the latest ITA singles poll. Rosa owns a 7-2 record in dual-match competition, including wins over three nationally ranked opponents. Junior Christoph Muller also sports a 7-2 mark in duals and has teamed with senior Ralph Krupfer to earn a No. 12 ranking in the ITA doubles poll.

Head coach Ron Smarr is in his 11th season at Rice, which has received four NCAA tournament bids in the last five years.

The Aztecs and Owls are quite familiar with one another this season, having both competed in the National Collegiate Tennis Classic, Jan. 18-20, in Indian Wells, Calif. In that tournament, the SDSU pairing of Achim Ceban and Bartosz Golas blasted the Rice duo of Rosa and Chong Wang, 8-1, in the main draw semifinals en route to capturing the doubles crown. Ceban also bested Wang in the singles semifinals before catching up with Rosa again in the title match. However, an Aztec finals sweep never materialized as the Brazilian dealt Ceban a straight-set defeat.

* The Aztecs have never beaten the Owls in three matches with the Houston, Texas, institution since 1989. SDSU and Rice last met in 2005 at the prestigious Blue/Gray National Tennis Classic in Montgomery, Ala., where the Scarlet and Black dropped a 4-2 decision.

* Following Monday's showdown with the Owls, San Diego State will head north for a pair of matches in Boise, Idaho. The Aztecs will take on the University of Idaho in a neutral-site clash on Friday, March 7, before locking horns with No. 41 Boise State the following day. Both duals are scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. MST at the Appleton Tennis Center on the BSU campus.

* After losing four seniors off its 2007 roster, including Mountain West Conference player of the year Markus Dickhardt and all-MWC performer Christian Groh, San Diego State has taken on a decidedly youthful appearance this season. The Aztecs possess just one junior on this year's squad to go along with five sophomores and four freshmen (one redshirt). While growing pains are to be expected, success has not eluded this youthful bunch either. After garnering MWC freshman ofthe year honors in 2007, Achim Ceban teamed with Bartosz Golas to capture the doubles crown at the National Collegiate Tennis Classic in January at Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Ceban also reached the singles final at the NCTC, while Golas was named MWC player of week for his efforts in both the tournament and the season opener against UC Riverside.

* When Achim Ceban combined with sophomore transfer Jordan Colman at the No. 3 doubles position against Minnesota on Feb.16, it marked the 14th different tandem utilized by head coach Gene Carswell this season. However, that figure should not seem surprising. After all, SDSU employed 21 different pairings last year, even with a veteran cast.

* Gene Carswell is in his 10th season at San Diego State and fifth as head coach of the Scarlet and Black. In four-plus seasons at the helm, the Aztecs' mentor has guided SDSU to three straight Mountain West Conference regular-season titles, while compiling an overall record of 62-34 (.645) in the process. In each of the past three years, the native San Diegan has taken home MWC coach of the year accolades, leading San Diego State to a 17-0 league mark during that stretch. Prior to his present duties, Carswell was an Aztec assistant for five years from 1998-2003, earning a pair of ITA regional assistant coach of the year honors in 2001 and 2003.

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