Stanford Women Go Solo In Ojai

April 26, 2007

By Jack Salisbury The Stanford Daily

April 26, 2007

Stanford, CA (CSTV U-WIRE) -- With the regular season over and another conference title in hand, Stanford women's tennis begins its postseason with the Pacific-10 Conference Individual Championships, today through Sunday in Ojai, Calif.

The tournament is not a team event; rather, it's a completely individual event with separates singles and doubles brackets.

The singles draw will feature 32 of the conference's best players. Each team's top three players will be invited, and there will be five at-large bids given to deserving candidates.

The most dominant conference in the nation, the Pac-10 boasts a plethora of talented players that the Cardinal will have to face. Among the list are California's Susie Babos (No. 4 in the nation, and the defending NCAA champion), Zsuzsanna Fodor (No. 11) and Nina Henkel (No. 23); Southern California's Lindsey Nelson (No. 9) and Sarah Fansler (No. 10); UCLA's Riza Zalameda (No. 15); and Arizona State's Nadia Abdala (No. 29). Cal's Fodor is also the Pac-10 tournament's defending singles champion.

It is unclear whether all these players will be competing, due to possible injuries or other conflicts. In past years, players have also elected to not play in the tournament due to personal issues, such as not wanting to risk injury or wanting to rest before the NCAA Championships.

Stanford's top three players are junior Celia Durkin (No. 14) and senior co-captains Anne Yelsey (No. 16) and Theresa Logar (No. 12).

Most likely, the Cardinal will also send a fourth player into the draw with an at-large bid. Freshman Lindsay Burdette (No. 82) and sophomore Jessica Nguyen (No. 20) are both viable candidates.

Head coach Lele Forood was very confident of her players' chances in taking home either the singles' or doubles' titles.

'I think that all of our players who get into the Pac-10 draw have a legitimate chance to win it,' she said.

'We've had winners of that tournament from all throughout the line-up over the years,' Forood added. 'A lot of people on our team have a legitimate chance to win it. That makes it intriguing.'

The doubles' portion of the tournament will host 16 Pac-10 duos; most of the teams in the conference will be sending two different pairs to compete. Stanford plans to send its two doubles squads of Burdette/Yelsey and Durkin/Nguyen, pending Nguyen's health (the sophomore has had issues with injuries as of late).

At press time, the brackets and pairings were not yet released.

According to Forood, the tournament is a good way to cap off the season and give the players one last chance to get match experience before the NCAA Championships in May.

'This is the last actual competition before we start the tournament on the 11th,' Forood said. 'When we get to those two first rounds of the NCAA, we're going full blast.'

As reigning Pac-10 doubles' champion Yelsey explained, the Pac-10 Championships are an important and prestigious event. With that said, they are still, more than anything else, a warm-up for the NCAA Championships.

'We all want to do well,' she said. 'But it's more of a tune-up for everybody to go out there. It's a fun event, and there's not too much pressure. It's match experience - nothing more than that.'

With the conclusion of this weekend's tournament, the Cardinal will enjoy a two-week respite from match play as it prepares to make a run for Stanford's fourth straight national title. May 12 marks the beginning of the team NCAA Championships, an event that the Cardinal's season has led up to for the whole year.

(C) 2007 The Stanford Daily via CSTV U-WIRE

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