Huskies, Ducks square off in unique rivalry
Junior Jeff Hawke and the Huskies own an 18-match winning streak over Oregon that stretches over a whole decade. The UW junior calls the series between the Huskies and Ducks the biggest rivalry the UW men’s tennis team has.
Junior Jeff Hawke and the Huskies own an 18-match winning streak over Oregon that stretches over a whole decade. The UW junior calls the series between the Huskies and Ducks the biggest rivalry the UW men’s tennis team has.Photo by Anastasia Stepankowsky
Jeff Hawke shifts uncomfortably in his chair, tilts his head, and scrunches his face up. The junior on the Washington men’s tennis team would rather not voice his opinions on Oregon.
It’s OK. His feelings are pretty clear anyway.
Hawke calls the UW’s rivalry with Oregon “the biggest one we have.” Because Washington State doesn’t have a men’s tennis program, he is probably right. But when it comes to the Huskies and the Ducks, it’s not all bad-blood and border wars. When the teams face off in the Ducks’ Student Tennis Center on Friday at 5 p.m., they will be playing the 133rd chapter of a series that strings together two schools in an intense rivalry that features a lot of friendly fire.
When head coach Matt Anger first came to the UW in 1994, the Huskies and Ducks, the other men’s tennis program in the Pac-10’s Northern Division, were thought so far below their southern counterparts that they were not allowed to host the powerhouse California or Arizona teams for conference matches. So Anger had to team up with then-Oregon head coach Chris Russell to convince the league to create a more fair conference schedule. It took Anger three years to succeed, but when he did, he knew he hadn’t done it alone.
“We definitely worked together,” Anger said. “While the day we played, we were obvious opponents and competitors … we definitely worked together as well because we knew that we were fighting some similar battles.”
Anger is still fighting alongside Russell, but the former Duck head coach is now sporting purple and gold. Russell jumped to the UW in 2005 after nine years in Eugene, Ore., in which he led the Ducks to two NCAA tournament runs. Oregon went to the tournament in 2000, when Russell was also named Pac-10 Coach of the Year, and 2004.
During Russell’s last year with the Ducks, the UW lost to Oregon on Feb. 29, 2004. That was the last time the Huskies lost to Oregon, which makes the now-UW associate head coach the last Oregon head coach to beat the UW.
Senior Max Manthou, whose parents both went to the UW and has bled purple and gold for as long as he can remember, feels the weight of the rivalry. He knows the history between the teams, and especially doesn’t want the UW’s 18-match winning streak to end on his accord. But there will also be something else weighing on Manthou’s mind Friday.
Manthou had a very friendly, but very competitive rivalry with former Oregon star Alex Rovello. The two Pacific Northwest products spent a lot of time competing against each other in juniors and high school. Rovello died in a diving accident last summer, and Manthou said Friday’s match will be emotional for him.
He said he will try to focus on the task at hand Friday and help his team secure their 19th straight win over the Ducks, but in a rivalry as intricate as the one the UW shares with Oregon, Manthou knows it won’t come easily.
“It’s been a long time, but I think this year is going to be tougher than ever,” he said. “I think we feel like we’re the underdog.”
— The Huskies play Boise State in Eugene on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. The UW beat the Broncos last season in Seattle.
— Anger was elected to the ITA Hall of Fame on Wednesday as a player. He was a three-time All-American in as many years with USC from 1982-1984.
Reach Sports Editor Thuc Nhi Nguyen at email@example.com. Twitter: @thucnhi21
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