No. 8 USC Take Second Shots At Stanford And Cal

April 2, 2008

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THIS WEEK: USC heads north for its next Pac-10 action, lined up against fellow top-10 teams Stanford and California this week. The No. 8 Trojans have their sights set on finally turning the tables on the defending Pac-10 champion Cardinal, who rank No. 5 and have claimed tight 4-3 wins over the Women of Troy in their past two meetings. USC visits Stanford for a 12 p.m. match on Friday (April 4) in Palo Alto, and then will face No. 6 California at 12 p.m. on Saturday (April 5) in Berkeley.

ITA RANKING UPDATES: USC (15-4) ranks #8 in the nation in the latest ITA team rankings (released April 1). The latest individual rankings were released on April 2, with six Trojans in the rankings -- #10 Amanda Fink, #50 Lindsey Nelson, #71 Gabriela Niculescu, #108 Leyla Entekhabi, #115 Maria Sanchez and #118 Sarah Fansler. In doubles, Fink/Niculescu are ranked #6 in the nation.

SCOUTING STANFORD: The Cardinal rank No. 5 and are 13-4 overall and 3-1 in Pac-10 play after taking a surprise Pac-10 loss last week, falling 4-3 to ASU before beating Arizona 6-1. Stanford has six players ranked in singles -- #7 Hilary Barte, #19 Jessica Nguyen, #54 Whitney Deason, #68 Carolyn McVeigh, #93 Lindsay Burdette and #125 Jennifer Yen -- and #17 Burdette/Barte ranked in doubles. USC is 17-56 all-time against Stanford after falling in a tight 4-3 match to the Cardinal earlier this season in Los Angeles.

SCOUTING CALIFORNIA: The Bears rank No. 6 and are 13-3 overall and 4-0 in Pac-10 play after extending its win streak to seven straight with a 6-1 win over Arizona and a 5-2 win over ASU last week. California has six players ranked in singles -- #12 Marina Cossou, #16 Susie Babos, #34 Cristina Visico, #91 Claire Ilcinkas, #102 Bojana Bobusic and #111 Marion Ravelojaona -- and #20 Babos/Kusano ranked in doubles. USC is 30-24 all-time against California after posting a 6-1win over the Bears earlier this season in Los Angeles.

RECENT RESULTS: USC cruised through three home wins last week, topping San Diego and #16 Fresno State with 6-1 decisions before sweeping #48 Oregon 7-0 for a Pac-10 win. Amanda Fink got the match-clinching singles victories in all three matches at the No. 2 position to move up to 27 singles wins on the year for the junior. Fink and Gabriela Niculescu also had a winning run at the No. 1 doubles slot with three wins including an 8-3 upset of the nation's #2 team Gloria/Rowe of Fresno State. Niculescu also won all three singles matches last week from her No. 3 slot.

WINNING WAYS: Leading the win streak drive this season is freshman Leyla Entekhabi, who holds a 16-match win streak with an unblemished dual match singles record of 16-0 in dual matches and a 25-6 overall mark. She was recently named the Pac-10 Player of the Week after capturing her 14th straight win to clinch victory for the Trojans in Texas.

20-SOMETHING: Four Women of Troy have nailed the 20-win mark already this season. Freshman Maria Sanchez captured her 20th singles win in Texas and now holds a 22-9 overall record and 13-5 record in dual matches. Amanda Fink leads the Trojans with 27 wins to date (27-6 overall, 15-3 dual), and Leyla Entekhabi (25-6, 16-0) and Gabriela Niculescu (24-6, 15-3) are next in line in the 20s. So far, every Women of Troy is over .500 in dual match singles play.

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 ranks #52 in the ITA rankings, now holding a 13-10 overall record and 11-7 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. 18 in the nation, Fink leads the Trojans with 27 singles wins, going 15-3 in dual match singles play and 17-6 overall. No. 97 Fansler holds a 9-7 dual record and 11-11 singles mark so far this season in limited action due to injuries.

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 #5 in the nation and is 26-7 overall and 15-3 in dual match play. Niculescu is also proving herself a singles powerhouse as well. Appearing in every dual match this year, she's 16-3 in dual match play and is 24-6 overall, now ranked No. 98 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 37-6 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.

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