Women of Troy Edged 4-3 By Miami In NCAA Action

May 18, 2007

ATHENS, GA. - The USC women's tennis team was handed one of the toughest seeding selections around as the No. 8 team in the 2007 NCAA Team Championships, earning the Women of Troy a rematch with last year's semifinal opponent Miami for the 2007 NCAA Round of 16. In a hard-fought match that saw each team trade momentum swings, USC was left with a 4-3 loss to the ninth seeded Hurricanes on Friday afternoon at Georgia's Dan Magill Tennis Complex.

In a rematch of the 2006 NCAA Semifinals, where the Hurricane edged out the Women of Troy to move into last year's final, Miami managed to pull out the doubles point before USC took a lead on three straight singles wins. Three-setters at the No. 3 and No. 2 positions saw the Hurricanes work back into the mix, however, leaving the deciding match hanging on the shoulders of the No. 1 singles players. USC's top gun, #5 Lindsey Nelson, was up against her opponent from last season, now ranked the nation's #1, Audra Cohen. The talented matchup proved as intense as billed, and Cohen was able to hold off Nelson for a 5-7, 7-5, 6-3 victory that closed things down on a 4-3 win for Miami and ended USC's team season with a 19-5 overall record.

'You have to give Miami a lot of credit,' USC head coach Richard Gallien said. 'They have the top-ranked singles player in the nation. But still, overall, it's horribly disappointing. It used to be that in these first rounds of the tournament you would have a lot of 4-0 blitzes, but that's not the case anymore.'

The doubles point hung up in the air for a while thanks to two comeback efforts by the Women of Troy. USC's Dianne Matias / Julie Smekodub pinned up a relatively smooth 8-3 win at No. 2 doubles over Farah/Seenauth to give the Trojans an early edge. But USC was entrenched in big deficits at No. 1 and No. 3. Trailing 5-1 in the No. 1 match, Sarah Fansler / Lindsey Nelson fought back and wound up breaking Miami to pull within one at 7-6. Miami managed to work out the win, however, getting one last break to even things with an 8-6 victory. That left the No. 1 doubles match between #47 Judy DeVera / Amanda Fink and #17 Audra Cohen / Laura Vallverdu. The Trojan pair got behind 7-2 to the Hurricanes' top two singles stars, but roared back into contention for the match. With DeVera serving, USC made it 7-5. USC broke Miami next to pull to 7-6, and then Fink served up a pair of aces on the way to the match-tying victory 7-7. From there, however, USC's five-game turnaround was tripped up, and Miami managed the next two games to secure a 9-7 decision and clinch the doubles point for the Hurricanes.

The back two courts provided the first infusion of wins for the Women of Troy, as Julie Smekodub drilled her Miami opponent 6-2, 6-0 from the No. 6 slot to level the match at 1-1. Dianne Matias finished off her Hurricane opponent next, topping Caren Seenauth 6-4, 6-3 at No. 5, and the Trojans were up 2-1. Anca Anastasiu lifted the Trojans to within a point of clinching the match when she dished out a 6-3, 3-6, 6-0 victory over Miami's Romy Farah, leaving a tight match at No. 1 and two third-setters still underway.

Amanda Fink worked hard to try to hold off a comeback at No. 3 by Miami's #48 Audrey Banada, but the Hurricane pieced together a strong move ahead and grabbed a point for Miami with a 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 win that made the score 3-2 USC. At No. 2, #11 Sarah Fansler was put back on her heels with a tough loss in the first set, but the freshman pulled out all the stops to battle back in the second, overcoming a 2-5 deficit to win the second and force a third. Fansler got out to a 5-3 edge in the third, only to see her Miami opponent, #21 Laura Vallverdu, interrupt Fansler's comeback run and win the match 6-1, 5-7, 7-5 and lock up the match 3-3 to put all eyes on the ferocious fight at No. 1.There, USC's #5 Lindsey Nelson was entrenched in a war with the nation's top-ranked player, Audra Cohen. Nelson pinned up the first set win 7-5, only to have Cohen match that score in the second. Down 2-4 in the third, Nelson crept back to 4-3 by holding serve. Cohen avoided the break next, however, and took a 5-3 advantage with Nelson at the service line. Cohen eked out the final few points in the end, securing victory for the Hurricanes.

Lindsey Nelson and Sarah Fansler now turn their focus to their upcoming competition in the NCAA Women's Singles Championships, where Nelson is the No. 4 seed and Fansler is a 9-16 seed. Singles competition is set to run May 23-28 in Athens, Ga.

#9 Miami 4, #8 USC 3
NCAA Round of 16
May 18, 2007 - Athens, Ga.
(1) #17 Cohen/Vallverdu (UM) def. #47 DeVera/Fink (USC) - 9-7
(2) Matias/Smekodub (USC) def. Farah/Seenauth (UM) - 8-3
(3) Banada/Sabatino (UM) def. Fansler/Nelson (USC) - 8-6
Miami wins doubles point.
Order of finish: 2, 3, 1
(1) #1 Audra Cohen (UM) def. #5 Lindsey Nelson (USC) - 5-7, 7-5, 6-3*
(2) #21 Laura Vallverdu (UM) def. #11 Sarah Fansler (USC) - 6-1, 5-7, 7-5
(3) #48 Audrey Banada (UM) def. #73 Amanda Fink (USC) - 2-6, 6-2, 6-4
(4) Anca Anastasiu (USC) def. Romy Farah (UM) - 6-3, 3-6, 6-0
(5) #85 Dianne Matias (USC) def. Caren Seenauth (UM) - 6-4, 6-3
(6) Julie Smekodub (USC) def. Gina Sabatino (UM) - 6-2, 6-0
Order of finish: 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1*