EUGENE, Ore. - The No. 68 ranked University of Oregon men's tennis team heads into the 2012 Pac-12 Tennis Championships as the No. 6 seed in the inaugural men's team tournament. The Ducks (17-6, 2-5 Pac-12) will square off against the No. 7 seeded Utes of the University of Utah (12-11, 1-6 Pac-12) in the first round on Wednesday at 2 p.m. at Libbey Park in Ojai, Calif.
The Pac-12 Conference is introducing for the first time a men's team tournament championship, with the winner of the four-round, 11-team bracket earning the lone automatic qualifier for the NCAA tournament in Athens, Ga. The changes to the conference tournament will mirror that of Pac-12 basketball with both a regular-season champion and conference-tournament champion.
Seeding for the tournament is based off the regular-season conference records with the first and second seeds receiving byes into the semifinal round.
The men's tournament will coincide with the women's singles and doubles draws in association with the 122nd annual Ojai Valley Tennis Tournament over the four days of competition Apr. 25-29. Libbey Park will be the site for the entirety of the men's tournament with the women competing at both Libbey Park and the Ojai Valley Athletic Club.
Oregon will lean on the strength of their doubles play which has paced the Ducks all season. For the Ducks, sophomore Robin Cambier and junior Jeff Mullen have put together the most impressive doubles season in school history. Cambier and Mullen have accumulated a 28-3 doubles record including a 19-3 spring dual record. Their 28 wins are the most by an Oregon doubles team breaking a seven-year record held by Mike Goldstein and John DeVorss.
Goldstein and DeVorss netted 19 doubles wins during the 1994-95 season. Backing the No. 1 tandem are Oregon senior Jose Izquierdo and sophomore Alex Rovello who have come on strong down the stretch. Izquierdo and Rovello have combined for a 16-2 spring dual record competing primarily at No. 2 doubles. Their 4-2 conference mark is best on the Oregon club as is their record in their past 10 matches, 8-2. A variety of combinations have been used at No. 3 for the Ducks, but expect the tandem of freshman Daniel Sardu and junior Aaron Clissold on Wednesday (Apr. 25). Sardu and Clissold have played a vital role in dual play tallying 13 wins to just four losses. All three probable Oregon doubles teams have won their last three matches.
In singles, the Ducks have received significant contributions from top to bottom throughout the spring season. Leading the way has been Cambier whose singles record of 18-5 paces the Ducks. Cambier holds the team's longest winning streak having started the year 15-0. Second on the team in wins and playing his best tennis of the season is Sardu. The Sopron, Hungary-native has tallied 15 singles wins primarily at the No. 4 position including a handful of match-clinching victories. Rovello is the only Duck to have seen time in the top-150 rankings by Campbell/ITA where he debuted at No. 122 on Feb. 16. The Portland, Ore. native is 14-9 this spring with 10 of his wins coming at the No. 1 singles position, the most on the team. Finally, Oregon will surely look for Mullen to return to his winning ways having dropped nine of his last 10 matches. The Boise State transfer has made a huge impact in bolstering the strength of the Ducks' lineup competing at No.'s 1-4 during the spring.
In their previous matchup with Utah just nine calendar days ago, the Ducks were victorious at home and under the sun, 4-3. The dual was Oregon's first and only outdoor home match at the 18th Street Tennis Courts, an element that will come into play this week in Ojai. Oregon's doubles strength shone brightly on Apr. 15 as the Ducks swept the Utes including an 8-0 romp by Mullen and Cambier over Utah's Dmytro Mamedov and Benito Suriano. Clinching the match was Izquierdo and Rovello who downed the Utes' Ace Matias and Alejandro Medinilla, 8-5. After Utah squared the match at one apiece, the Ducks responded with singles victories at the No. 1 and 4 spots before Rovello beat out Mamedov 6-1, 6-3 to clinch the victory. The win over the Utes was the last victory of the season for the Ducks.
The winner will play No. 3 seeded Stanford at 2 p.m. on Thursday (Apr. 26).