Bears Host Western Michigan in NCAA Regional

May 8, 2006

The 11th-ranked California women's tennis team (16-7) will host Western Michigan (20-5) in the NCAA Tournament regional, on Friday May 12 at 10 a.m. at Hellman Tennis Center. Sacramento State and Fresno State will face off following Cal's match, at 1 p.m. Should Cal defeat Western Michigan, the Golden Bears will play the winner of Sacramento State and Fresno State, on Saturday May 13 at noon. Tickets will be on sale outside of Hellman Tennis Center and are $8 for adults and $4 for seniors, youth and students.

Cal has made appearances in all 25 NCAA Tournaments since the competition's inception in 1982. The Bears have reached the quarterfinal round 16 times and earned NCAA semifinal berths in 1985, '86, '99, 2000 and '03. Cal has also four national champion doubles teams, most recently Raquel Kops-Jones and Cristina Fusano in 2003.

Last year Cal made its 24th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, and it advanced to the round of 16. The then-24th ranked Bears defeated No. 35 Mississippi, 4-3 in the first round of the NCAA regionals. The Bears then went on to upset ninth-ranked Miami, 4-3, to advance to the round of 16, but they suffered a 4-2 loss to eight-ranked Georgia. Cal ended its season with a 14-9 overall record.

This is Western Michigan's third appearance in the NCAA Tournament and first since 2000. The Broncos made it to back-to-back NCAA Championships in 1999 and 2000. WMU traveled to Los Angeles, Calif., in 1999 where they fell to UCLA, 5-0, in the first round. The Broncos came back the next year in South Bend, Ind., and lost to South Carolina, 5-1. Western Michigan enters tournament action with a 20-5 overall record and went unbeaten during the Mid-American Conference regular season, at 8-0. The Broncos, who are on a seven-match win streak, also recently defeated Buffalo, 4-0, in the 2006 MAC Women's Tennis Championships to secure an NCAA berth. Western Michigan rolled through all three rounds of the tournament without dropping a single match, starting out the tournament with wins over Northern Illinois, 4-0, and Eastern Michigan, 4-0. The Broncos are 1-5 against ranked opponents this season, as their only victory came over No. 34 Wisconsin, which they defeated, 5-2. In singles play, the Broncos are led by their No. 1 singles player, Malena Remynse. Remynse is 10-7 in the No. 1 position and 18-10 overall. On the doubles court, Remynse has totaled a 20-9 overall record with partner Carrie Jeanmaire, while the duo is 14-6 in dual-match play on court one. Betsy Kuhle is currently in her 24th year at the helm for the Broncos.

This will mark the first meeting between these two teams.

The NCAA Division I Women's Tennis Subcommittee has selected the 64 singles players and 32 doubles teams that will compete in the 2006 NCAA Division I Women's Tennis Championships. Competition will take place May 23-28 at the Taube Tennis Center at Stanford, following the conclusion of the team championship (May 18-22). Automatic qualification into the championships was awarded to any conference with one or more singles player ranked in the ITA Top 125 for singles. For conferences with more than one singles player within the ITA Top 125, the subcommittee applied the NCAA selection criteria to determine which student-athlete was the automatic qualifier from those conferences. Cal junior Suzi Fodor is the automatic qualifier from the Pac-10 and earned a No. 5 seed. In the 48 at-large selections, Cal has one other singles player in the competition in sophomore Suzi Babos. In the doubles competition, Babos and Fodor earned an at-large selection and fifth seed overall.

Cal has been ranked among the top 15 teams in the country for the past 13 weeks and is currently ranked 11th in the Fila Collegiate Tennis Rankings, which were administered May 2 by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. The Bears' highest ranking came in the beginning of February and again near the end of April when they were sixth. Cal has not dropped below No. 20 in the ranking since the dual match season began in January.

The Bears currently boast five singles players among the nation's elite. After winning the Pac-10 singles title two weeks ago, junior Suzi Fodor moved up in the rankings from No. 8 to No. 3 and is now the highest ranked Pac-10 player. Other Cal players in the singles rankings include sophomore Suzi Babos, who remains at No. 27, while sophomore Stephanie Kusano improved from No. 99 to No. 85. Sophomore Cristina Visico also improved in the rankings from No. 90 to No. 88, as freshman Marion Ravelojaona fell from 113th to 124th.

The Bears have one doubles team in the rankings, in Babos and Fodor. The duo jumped from 11th to eighth after competing in the Pac-10 doubles championship. Babos and Fodor fell in the doubles final to Stanford's top-ranked duo Alice Barnes and Anne Yelsey, but have notched an 18-8 doubles record this season. Singles and doubles rankings are released every two weeks, while team rankings are announced weekly.

Cal is 10-6 against ranked opponents so far this season. The Bears' biggest upset came on Feb. 2 at the ITA National Team Indoors, when the then 18th-ranked Bears defeated then fifth-ranked Northwestern, 5-2.

Cal had a successful showing at the 2006 Pac-10 Championships two weeks ago in Ojai, Calif., as Fodor was crowned the conference singles champion and she and Babos competed for the doubles title, but fell to Stanford's Alice Barnes and Anne Yelsey, 8-4. Claire Ilcinkas and Marion Ravelojaona advanced to the semifinals of the doubles invitational, before being defeated by Claudia Hirt and Anna Powaska, 8-5. Ilcinkas advanced as far as the semifinals of the singles invitational draw, before falling to Ahsley Joelson of UCLA, 7-5, 6-2. Ravelojaona also advanced to the semifinals but was outlasted by Stanford's Jessica Nguyen, 6-1, 6-0.

Zsuzsanna Fodor has been named the 2006 Pac-10 Women's Tennis Player of the Year, announced Monday in a vote by the Conference coaches. Fodor, who is currently ranked third in the Fila Collegiate Tennis Rankings, recently won the singles title at the Pac-10 Championships, defeating USC's Amanda Fink in straight sets, 7-6 (2), 6-3. A junior from Budapest, Hungary, Fodor posted a 33-13 overall singles record and is 15-7 in dual-match play. This marks just the second Pac-10 Player of the Year honor for California, as Raquel Kops-Jones won the award in 2004.

Also earning conference honors for the Bears, was sophomore Suzi Babos. Babos, a native of Sopron, Hungary, was named to the All-Pac-10 second team. Babos currently holds a No. 27 singles ranking and has tallied a 25-12 overall singles record.

Freshmen Bojana Bobusic and Claire Ilcinkas have stepped up big in their first season as Bears. Ilcinkas, a native of Paris, France, has played in singles positions 3-6, and has tallied a 12-9 dual-match record, while she is 5-4 in Pac-10 play. Bobusic, who joins the Cal squad from Perth, Australia, has amassed a 10-5 dual-match singles record and is 5-4 in dual-match play on the doubles court with partner Kusano.

In her 27 years at Cal, Brogan has molded the Golden Bear program into one of the best in the country, guiding the Bears to 24 NCAA appearances, three AIAW showings, including a trip to the finals in 1982, and 18 Top 10 finishes since 1982. Brogan has also produced four national champion doubles teams, 56 All-Americans, 16 first team All-Pac-10 selections and four conference player of the year honorees during her career. She currently boasts a 517-212 dual-match record, and notched her 500th career win last spring when Cal defeated Mississippi in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Brogan is just the fourth Cal coach to reach the 500-win plateau.

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