No. 7 Cal Gears Up For Showdown Against Top-Ranked Stanford

Feb. 27, 2007

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The seventh-ranked California women's tennis team (8-2) squares off against two top-25 teams this weekend. The Golden Bears head to The Farm to face No. 1 Stanford on Saturday, March 3, at 12 p.m. at the Taube Family Tennis Stadium. The next day, Cal hosts No. 18 Pepperdine at 12 p.m. at the Hellman Tennis Center. The match against Pepperdine is the first of five consecutive home matches for Cal. The second match in the homestand is the Pac-10 opener against Oregon on March 9.

Defeating the Cardinal will be no small accomplishment for the Golden Bears, who lost to Stanford in the second round of the ITA Indoor Championships on Feb. 2, 6-1. Stanford is 7-1 thus far with its one loss at the hands of Georiga Tech in the semifinals of the indoor tournament. Since that one loss, Stanford has enjoyed the same the success in the past two weeks that Cal has achieved, defeating UCLA, USC, Arizona and Arizona State. The Cardinal currently have three players in the top 15 of the ITA singles rankings. Jessica Nguyen is fifth, Celia Durking is eighth and Theresa Logar is 15. Durkin and Nguyen also make up the No. 21 doubles team in the ITA doubles rankings. Pepperdine is currently 5-4 this season after losing to No. 8 USC last Friday. Before facing Stanford on Friday, Pepperdine will go to San Diego State to face the Aztecs on Tuesday. The Waves are led by the sixteenth-ranked doubles duo of Bianca Dulgheru and Sylvia Kosakowski.

Cal took both matches in Arizona last weekend. On Friday, the Bears took it to the Wildcats, beating them 6-1. Third-ranked Susie Babos dominated in her singles match against Juliette Mavroleon, defeating the Wildcat, 6-1, 6-3. Babos also won in doubles. The fourth-ranked doubles tandem of Babos and senior Zsuzsanna Fodor beat Mavroleon and Danielle Steinberg, 8-2, to clinch the doubles point for Cal. The Bears won all three doubles matches and took five of the six singles matches. Arizona State gave Cal a run for its money the next day in Tempe. The Bears came away with a 4-3 victory over the Sun Devils. Babos and Fodor notched another doubles win to help Cal clinch the doubles point to start the day. In singles, After a tough loss the day before, Fodor came back strong with a singles win against ASU, as she beat Nadia Abdala, 6-2, 7-5. Freshman Nina Henkel and junior Stephanie Kusano notched the other singles wins for the Bears. Henkel defeated Roxanne Clarke, 7-5, 6-4. Kusano beat Rebecca Rankin, 6-3, 6-1.

Susie Babos, the reigning NCAA singles champion, was named the Pac-10 Women's Tennis Player of the Week for Feb. 12-18. The All-American garnered two straight-set victories over two top Pac-10 competitors when Cal claimed two big wins over No. 15 UCLA and No. 8 USC on Feb. 16 and Feb. 17. Babos defeated the previous Pac-10 Women's Tennis Player of the Week, Riza Zalameda of UCLA, 7-5, 7-5. The next day, in a rematch of the 2006 NCAA singles final, Babos once again beat USC's Lindsey Nelsen, 6-1, 6-2. Both wins came on the No. 1 court. The Hungarian currently posts a singles record of 19-6. The doubles team of Babos and Zsuzsanna Fodor is 9-1 in dual play this season.

Through the first 10 dual matches, junior Stephanie Kusano is posting a 7-0 record on the fourth court. Kusano won her first four matches of the spring, one of which was on court five, and is currently on a four-match winning streak. All but one of her victories came in straight sets. Perhaps two of her biggest wins came agaisnt Arizona State last weekend and in the Indoor Championships against Virginia Commonwealth. It was Kusano's win over VCU's Viktoria Konstantinova (6-1, 6-1) that clinched the match for Cal. When she defeated ASU's Rebecca Rankin (6-3, 6-1) it helped the Bears knock off the Sun Devils, 4-3. Kusano also competed in doubles for the first time this spring in Arizona. Her and Nina Henkel won both of their doubles matches against the Wildcats and the Sun Devils.

Zsuzsanna Fodor has been on a tear since the Cal Winter Invitational in January. The senior garnered an eight-match winning streak to open the spring season. Previous to her three out of four wins in Arizona last weekend, it was her victory over Tracy Lin of UCLA that clinched the victory for the Bears, in their 7-0 sweep over the Bruins on Feb. 16. Fodor was the only Bear to pick up a win against Stanford in the second round of the ITA Indoor Championships on Feb. 2, as she knocked off Anne Yelsey, 6-1, 6-4. Fodor has had some dominating singles wins over the past month and a half. She beat Brittany Blalock of Cal Poly, 6-1, 6-1, on Jan. 13. In the dual-match season opener against Sacramento State on Jan. 20, Fodor defeated Katrina Bandere, 6-1, 6-0. Against San Diego State on Jan. 28, Fodor handled Alesya Vidov, 6-1, 6-1. All the wins propelled Fodor up the ITA singles rankings from 32 to 9.

The impressive string of championships won by Cal in 2006 includes the Pac-10 Singles title by Zsuzsanna Fodor, as she defeated then-No. 10 ranked Amanda Fink of USC to claim the title. Fodor, a 2006 All-American along with Susie Babos, was also named the Pac-10 Player of the Year last season. She entered postseason play ranked No. 3 by the Fila Collegiate Tennis Rankings.

Last May, Susie Babos became the first Golden Bear from the women's team to win the NCAA Singles title, becoming just the fourth international player to ever win the national singles title and the second Bear to advance to the NCAA final since Lisa Albano in 1991. In addition, Babos also was the sixth unseeded player to advance to the NCAA final, sixth sophomore to win the national championship and the 15th Pac-10 NCAA singles champion. She defeated USC's Lindsey Nelson, 6-4, 6-1, in the final. Along the way of winning the national crown, Babos upset the 2005 NCAA champ and No. 4 seed Zuzana Zemenova of Baylor, 6-3, 6-4, in the quarterfinals.

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