No. 5 Cal Takes on Northwest Rivals This Weekend

April 3, 2007


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Riding a nine-match winning streak, the No. 5 California women's tennis team (17-3, 3-0) returns to the Hellman Tennis Center this weekend to continue its four-match homestand against Washington on Friday, April 6, at 1:30 p.m., and Washington State on Saturday, April 7, at 12 p.m. The following weekend, Cal embarks on its final road trip of the regular season. The Bears will head to Los Angeles to face No. 7 USC and No. 10 UCLA. The L.A. schools will be looking for revenge after Cal beat them earlier this season in Berkeley.

Washington has been struggling this season. The Huskies come to Berkeley with an overall record of 3-14 and an 0-4 Pac-10 mark. One bright spot for Washington is it has won its last two out of three, recording victories over Gonzaga, 6-1, on March 25 and Portland, 6-1, on March 30. Washington State (12-8, 1-4) has won three of its last four. The Cougars are 3-5 on the road this season and lost their last match at Boise State, 5-2, on April 1. In the match before, Washington State picked up its first conference win of the spring, a 5-2 victory over Oregon. The contest against Cal is the second of a trio of Bay Area matches for the Cougars this week. They face Santa Clara on Thursday and Stanford on Saturday. Earlier in the dual season, Washington State endured a five-match, Pac-10 losing streak.

Cal squared off against No. 19 Arizona State and Arizona last weekend, and swept both schools from the desert. The match against the Sun Devils didn't look like a sweep, as the Bears needed a few comeback efforts to earn the victory. After winning the doubles point, junior Susie Babos and senior Zsuzsanna Fodor both lost the first set in their singles matches. No. 4 Babos took the second set in her match against Sabrina Capannolo, 6-3. Capannolo took a 6-5 lead in the third set. Babos fought back to win the next game and the tiebreaker to take the match. Fodor didn't win a game in the first set of her match against Nadia Abdala, but won the second set, 6-2. In the third set, the 13th-ranked Fodor got even from the opening set as she shut out Abdala, 6-0, to win the match. Junior Marion Ravelojaona dropped the first set against Rebecca Rankin, 6-4, and trailed, 4-2, in the second set. She fought back to win the next four games and take the second set, 6-4. Ravelojaona later won the third-set tiebreaker and the match. The next day against the Wildcats, Cal won all six singles matches in straight sets. Babos and Fodor's 8-1 doubles victory helped the Bears take the doubles point.

The Bears improved to a perfect 10-0 at home this season when they beat Arizona last Saturday. Cal is 9-1 in March, including seven wins on its home court. In the nine victories, five of them were by the score of 6-1. The other four were shutouts. Previous to the two sweeps this past weekend, the first shutout was a 7-0 sweep over Oregon in the Pac-10 opener on March 9, while the second was the 6-0 sweep over Hawaii on March 25. Before the victory against Hawaii, the Bears took down then-No. 9 Northwestern in the Aloha state. Pepperdine was the first victim to fall to Cal in its five-match homestand on March 4. After the victory over the Ducks, Cal went on to beat Loyola Marymount, Texas and TCU.

Cal's nine-match winning streak is one of many the team will be looking to extend this weekend. Susie Babos is on a seven-match winning streak. Nina Henkel has won 13 of her last 14 matches, and has won her last six in a row. Cristina Visico is riding an eight-match winning streak that began on March 9. Stephanie Kusano and Marion Ravelojaona have both won their last four.

One of Cal's most successful players this season has been freshman Nina Henkel, who is currently ranked No. 19 in the ITA singles rankings. Prior to her wins against Arizona State and Arizona last weekend, Henkel notched two singles wins in Hawaii last weekend. Her victory over Alexis Prousis helped Cal take down No. 9 Northwestern. The next day, she made her spring debut on the No. 1 court against Hawaii and beat Sophie Kobuch, 6-0, 6-3. She picked up a decisive, 6-2, 6-2, victory against Sarah Lancaster from Texas (March 12), which was followed by a 6-1, 6-1 win over TCU's Ana Cetnik (March 17). Henkel won in doubles with Marion Ravelojaona against the Horned Frogs and the Longhorns. Henkel picked up a singles win against Oregon and a doubles victory against Loyola Marymount earlier this month. Against Stanford on March 3, she turned in a big victory against the Cardinal, as Henkel took down No. 8 Celia Durkin, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2. The next day against Pepperdine, she earned her second singles win of the weekend when she defeated Katie Sebate, 6-1, 2-6, 6-2. Henkel clinched the match victory for the Bears on the No. 3 court. In doubles against the Waves, Henkel and junior Stephanie Kusano beat Sebate and Bianca Dulgheru, 8-6.

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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