No. 8 Cal Heads to Los Angeles For Final Road Trip of the Season

April 10, 2007


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Riding an 11-match winning streak, the No. 8 California women's tennis team (19-3, 5-0) embarks on its final regular-season road trip in Los Angeles this weekend. The Golden Bears face No. 7 USC on Friday, April 13, at 1:30 p.m., and No. 13 UCLA on Saturday, April 14, at 12 p.m. The following weekend, Cal gets its third chance to knock off top-ranked Stanford. The Cardinal will come to Berkeley for the final match of the regular season on April 21.

USC (16-2, 5-0) is also on an 11-match winning streak. Since the Trojans fell to Cal on Feb. 17, they haven't lost another match. Two players are ranked among the top 15 in the ITA singles rankings for USC, No. 10 Lindsey Nelson and No. 12 Sarah Fansler. Last weekend, the Trojans went to the desert and defeated Arizona, 5-2, and Arizona State, 6-1. The contest against Cal is the first of a final three-match homestand to end the spring campaign. It will be a tough trio for the Trojans, facing Stanford and UCLA after taking on Cal. UCLA (13-6, 4-1) has won five of its last six. After losing to USC on March 8, the only other loss handed to the Bruins was a 4-3 decision against the Sun Devils last weekend. Riza Zalameda has been the strongest competitor this spring for UCLA, ranked 22nd in singles and in doubles with partner Yasmin Schnack.

In a memorable weekend for Cal, the Bears swept then-No. 15 UCLA and then-No. 5 USC when they visited Berkeley in February. Against the Bruins, on the No. 1 court, Susie Babos defeated the previous week's Pac-10 Women's Tennis Player of the Week, Riza Zalameda, 7-5, 7-5. The match-clinching victory came on court No. 2 where senior Zsuzsanna Fodor knocked off Tracy Lin in three sets, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1. The day started off well for Cal as it won all three doubles matches. Babos and Fodor got the best of Zalameda and Lin, 8-4. The next day against the Trojans, the match-clinching victory came on the third court, as Nina Henkel beat Amanda Fink in straight sets, 7-6, 6-2. Cristina Visico notched the first singles win for Cal, beating Judy DeVera in straight sets, 6-3, 6-1. Visico won both of her matches that weekend after dealing with strep throat. Earlier in the week, it was uncertain if she would be able to play.

Cal extended its streak of consecutive shutouts to five with two sweeps over Washington and Washington State last weekend. Against the Huskies on the top court in singles, No. 4 Susie Babos knocked off Aleksandra Malovic, 6-1, 6-0. No. 19 Nina Henkel, competing on the second court, defeated Mathilde Cor, 6-1, 6-1, in the first singles match completed on the day. Claire Ilcinkas clinched the victory for the Bears on the sixth court. The Bears also won all three doubles matches, including an 8-7 victory by the second-ranked duo of Babos and Zsuzsanna Fodor. The next day against the Cougars, all six singles matches ended in straight sets. Cristina Visico, who notched her 10th win in a row on Saturday, beat Aleksandra Stefanova, 6-3, 6-3. Marion Ravelojaona and Stephanie Kusano also turned in strong performances. Kusano only lost three games in her 6-1, 6-2, win over Marjolein van de Ven.

Cal's 11-match winning streak is one of many the team will be looking to extend this weekend. Susie Babos is on a nine-match winning streak. Nina Henkel has won 15 of her last 16 matches, and has won her last eight in a row. Cristina Visico is riding a 10-match winning streak that began on March 9. Stephanie Kusano and Marion Ravelojaona have both won their last six.

In the second-longest homestand of the season for Cal, the Bears were dominant in all four conference matches, recording sweeps over Arizona, Arizona State, Washington and Washington State. Within those four matches, Cal only surrendered one doubles match on the third court against the Wildcats. In the 24 singles matches played, 20 of them were straight-set victories. Arizona State was the only team to give Cal a little trouble in singles. Susie Babos, Zsuzsanna Fodor and Marion Ravelojaona all went to a third set in their matches, but the Bears took the match-deciding set in all three contests.

Cal finished 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, which included three Pac-10 matches. Oregon, Hawaii, Arizona and Arizona State were all swept by the Bears. Before the victory against Hawaii, Cal 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.

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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