No. 10 USC Takes Off For Texas

March 18, 2008

THIS WEEK: USC sets off on an out-of-state adventure this week, heading to Texas for nonconference match against the Longhorns. The No. 10 Trojans (11-4) face No. 17 Texas (7-2) at a 1:30 p.m. CT on Wednesday (March 19) in Austin.

ITA RANKING UPDATES: USC (11-4) ranks #10 in the nation in the latest ITA team rankings (released March 18). The latest individual rankings also were released on March 18, with six Trojans in the rankings -- #18 Amanda Fink, #52 Lindsey Nelson, #97 Sarah Fansler, #98 Gabriela Niculescu, #102 Maria Sanchez and #110 Leyla Entekhabi, In doubles, Fink/Niculescu are ranked #5 in the nation.

USC VS. TEXAS: The Longhorns rank No. 18 in the nation and are 7-2 after beating Oklahoma State 5-2 and Oklahoma 7-0 last week. Texas has #125 Vanja Corovic ranked in singles players and #29 Milic/Corovic ranked in doubles. USC is 11-7 all-time against the Longhorns, last facing in the 2007 NCAA Second Round when USC moved into the Sweet Sixteen with a 4-0 win over Texas at Marks Stadium.

RECENT RESULTS: USC had a tough outing against No. 10 UCLA last week, winding up with a 6-1 loss to the Bruins. UCLA captured the doubles point and then managed the next three singles wins to clinch victory early for the Bruins. Leyla Entekhabi was the lone Trojan to grab a win, keeping the freshman's singles win streak intact at 14 straight. Entekhabi fought off match point twice in the third-set tiebreaker to get USC its first point in the match. Her 4-6, 6-3, 1-0 (12-10) win over #56 Elizabeth Lumpkin made it 4-1 UCLA with two matches still going.

WINNING WAYS: Leading the win streak drive this season is freshman Leyla Entekhabi, who holds a 14-match win streak with an unblemished dual match singles record of 13-0 in dual matches and 22-6 overall mark.

20-SOMETHING: Three Women of Troy have nailed the 20-win mark already this season, with one freshman -- Maria Sanchez -- knocking on the door with 19. Amanda Fink leads the Trojans with 23 wins to date (23-6 overall, 11-3 dual), and Leyla Entekhabi (22-6, 13-0) and Gabriela Niculescu (20-6, 12-3) are next in line in the 20s.

SENIOR STAR: Lindsey Nelson -- 2007 Pac-10 singles champion and three-time All-American has -- has now made back-to-back trips to the NCAA singles final. A two-time Honda Award finalist, Nelson is USC's lone senior on the roster this year, and she brought a 91-27 overall singles record into the dual match season. She opened with four straight wins at the No. 1 singles slot this year, and has moved up again the ITA rankings at #38, now holding a 10-9 overall record and 8-6 dual match mark while battling injuries. Nelson's 100th career singles win came in a match against a familiar opponent -- Cal's Suzi Babos, who beat Nelson in the 2006 NCAA Championship but lost to Nelson in the 2007 Pac-10 Championship -- on Feb. 29 in USC's dual match against the Bears.

BACK FOR MORE: USC has two National Rookies of the Year on the roster for 2008. Now a junior, 2006 Rookie of the Year Amanda Fink is is joined by 2007 Rookie of the Year Sarah Fansler. Fansler and Fink stacked up at No. 2 and No. 3 singles, respectively, throughout much of the 2007 season. After leading the Trojans in singles wins with 32 as a freshman, Fansler earned a spot in the NCAA Singles Championships along with Nelson. Fink shined in singles and doubles once again, and earned her second All-Pac-10 selection. Now ranked No. 17 in the nation, Fink leads the Trojans with 23 singles wins, going 11-3 in dual match singles play and 23-6 overall. Fansler holds an 8-6 dual record and 10-10 singles mark so far this season.

DOUBLE TROUBLE: Gabriela Niculescu sat out her first year at Troy but is good to go for 2008. She and Amanda Fink have already teamed up in fall doubles action, claiming the ITA West Regional doubles championship. The pair ranks #8 in the nation and is 23-6 overall and 12-2 in dual match play. Niculescu is also proving herself a singles powerhouse as well. She's 12-3 in dual match play and is 20-6 overall, now ranked No. 66 in ITA rankings.

FIRST THINGS FIRST: USC has added four freshmen to the 2008 roster, and all four have already jumped into the win column. Cristala Andrews, Leyla Entekhabi, Lyndsay Kinstler and Maria Sanchez have all proven themselves as winners, tacking up victories in dual match play and in individual tournaments this season. The freshman foursome is a combined 28-5 in singles dual match play so far this season.

LAST SEASON: USC made its ninth straight appearance at the NCAA Championships after making its fourth straight second-place finish in Pac-10 action. USC posted a 19-5 overall record and reached the NCAA Championships Round of 16, where the Trojans fell 4-3 to its 2007 NCAA Semifinals opponent Miami.

WHAT'S TO COME: In order to stretch USC's NCAA appearance run to 10 straight trips, the Women of Troy will have a long dual-match season to power through. The only teams to beat the Trojans during the regular season in the past three years ­-- since Lindsey Nelson took up residence at Troy -- have been Pac-10 teams Stanford, Cal and UCLA, and nonconference foe Baylor. The Trojans will have their usual two clashes with the Pac-10 schools, and the only out-of-state nonconference trip on the docket will take USC to Texas for a dual match tilt in March.

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