By Michael Schwartz
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, October 25, 2004
UA men's tennis' own Roger Matalonga and Colin O'Grady validated their top-five national doubles ranking this weekend at the Wilson/ITA Fall Regional Championships in Malibu, Calif.
The fell just short of a championship, however, losing to UCLA's duo of Alberto Francis and Krzysztof Kwinta, 8-4. The Bruin doubles team ranks third nationally and held the tournament's top seed.
The loss left the second-seeded UA doubles squad one victory away from automatically qualifying for the 2004 ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships. That tournament is the nation's top collegiate indoor tennis tournament and the second of three non-team national championship events this season.
O'Grady said that the doubles team still will most likely earn one of the four at-large spots available for this tournament since they will be the highest-ranked doubles team that did not win a regional event.
"We got to our seeding and played well," he said. "We would have liked to have won, but unfortunately we didn't. We're not worried about rankings, we just want to get to the National Indoors. Because of our ranking and getting to the finals, we're a likely first alternate."
The West Regional was one of 17 Division I Regional Championships taking place this weekend and next weekend at campuses throughout the country.
To reach the title match, the UA doubles duo defeated host Pepperdine's 23rd-ranked team of Pedro Rico and Scott Doerner, 8-6, in the semifinals.
In the quarterfinals, Matalonga and O'Grady beat the Irvington duo of Peter Surapol and Mustafa Ulukan, 8-2. They also defeated Johan Berg and Jeff Kazarian of USC, 8-5, in the round of 16 and overcame Loyola Marymount's Ashton Politanoff and Mike Wojnarowicz, by a score of 8-4, in the second round after a first-round bye.
In singles action, the tournament's third seed, Matalonga, advanced to the quarterfinals before falling to Armando Carrascosa of San Diego State, 6-1, 6-0. Earlier in the tournament Matalonga, a junior ranked 29th in the country, beat San Diego's Nic Beuque, 6-2, 6-4 in the round of 16, Alexis Rafidison of Pepperdine, 7-5, 6-1 in the second round and Purav Kaja of Loyola Marymount 6-2, 6-1 in the first round.
The Wildcats brought eight singles players, but could muster only two victories outside of Matalonga. O'Grady, a senior, defeated Beau Berglund of Loyola Marymount, 6-4, 6-4 and junior Tim Mullane led Pepperdine's Richard Johnson, 4-3, before he was forced to retire in the first round.
O'Grady fell to Jeremy Drean of UCLA, 6-1, 4-6, 7-5 and Mullane lost to San Diego State's Benedikt Strong, 7-6, 6-7, 6-2 in second round action.
In the first round, senior Paul Warkentin played a tight match against the tournament's top seed who is ranked eighth-overall in the country, but lost to Pedro Rico of Pepperdine, 6-3, 7-5. Also, sophomore Nathan Cochrane fell to San Diego's Rob Blair of San Diego, 6-4, 6-3, fellow sophomore Jason Labrosse lost to Alberto Francis of UCLA, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6, freshman Luka Cerenko was defeated by Irvington's Olof Sjolund, 6-4, 6-4 and freshman Bruno Alcala lost to Ivan d'Argence of Santa Barbara, 7-5, 3-6, 7-6.
"There was good competition," O'Grady said. "It's good to get some matches in, but this tournament is nothing too big. You don't get too worried if you lose."
Outside of the Matalonga-O'Grady duo, the UA doubles teams also came up short, all failing to advance beyond the second round. After defeating San Diego's Rob Blair and Mirza Koristovic, 8-6 in the first round, Alcala and Labrosse could not pull out a second-round victory over Leo Basica and Elad Stern of Santa Barbara in a competitive 9-8 loss.
After receiving first-round byes, the freshmen combination of Cerenko and Francois Vandermerwe lost to Francis and Kwinta of UCLA, 8-3 and USC's Kaes Van't Hof and Brian Wright defeated Warkentin and Mullane.
O'Grady said one of the most important aspects to this tournament involved facing players they will see during the team season. The Wildcats will return to Pepperdine later in the year and face Pac-10 foes UCLA, USC and ASU who all played at the West Regional.
"It's kind of nice to play on their courts and to play their good players," he said. "Any time you play players that you will see in spring, it helps."