No. 4 Seed Bears Make 22nd Straight NCAA Appearance
May 6, 2003
WHAT'S ON TAP: The California women's tennis team (19-5, 6-2, Pac-10), immersed in its best 24-match record since 1999 (20-4), travels to College Station, TX Friday and Saturday, May 9-10, to take part in its 22nd consecutive postseason appearance at the 2003 NCAA Regional Championships. The Bears, the #1 seed in the regional and #4 seed of the NCAA Tournament, will take on regional #4 seed Army (17-6), 2003 Patriot League champions, on the Grandstand court in the Round of 64 at 5:00 p.m. (PST) Friday, May 9. The victor of that match will face the winner between #3 seed LSU and #2 seed Texas A&M at 3:00 p.m. (PST) Saturday, May 10 in the Round of 32. The winner of the four-team regional will advance to the Sweet 16 at the University of Florida in Gainesville, May 15-24.
WHAT & WHERE: Each team match will be played on six courts and will be stopped immediately when an overall winner is determined. On Friday, May 9, both matches will begin at 5:00 p.m. (PST) with the championship match scheduled for 3:00 p.m. (PST) Saturday, May 10. The women's regional play will be joined by the men's regional play with Texas A&M, UMBC, Georgia and South Florida making up the four-team field. Reserved courtside seating for the men's and women's sessions is available for $15, reserved courtside seating for an individual session is $10, adult general admission is $6 and a student/children general admission ticket is available for $5. Tickets may be purchased in advance by phone by calling (979) 845-2311 or 1-888-99-AGGIE. Tickets will also be available at the A&M Tennis Center on match day. Live scoring of all matches will be available on the A&M website at www.AggieAthletics.com.
CAL POSTSEASON HISTORY: The Bears are one of three teams in the nation, along with Stanford and UCLA, to participate in all 22 NCAA Tournaments since its inception in 1982. Out of those 22 appearances, Cal has advanced to at least the Sweet 16 in 19 of those showings, four times advancing to the semifinals in 2000, 1999, 1994 and 1985. Overall, the Golden Bears own a 56-21 (.727) cumulative record at the NCAAs. Against the regional field, the Bears own a 1-0 all-time advantage over Army after defeating the Black Knights, 9-0, in the 1999 NCAA Regionals. Cal has never played LSU and Boise State.
NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP INDIVIDUAL PLAY: In NCAA individual competition, the Bears have had a singles or doubles entry in 20 of 22 years, including 17 in a row. In 1998, '99 and 2000, current assistant coach Amy Jensen became the only player in NCAA history to capture three consecutive NCAA doubles titles, giving Cal its first national championships. In the 2003 NCAA singles competition, three players will be representing Cal. #25 Christina Fusano (23-12), a senior, and #6 Raquel Kops-Jones (38-14) and #53 Jieun Jacobs (29-9), both juniors, were selected for individual tourney play, while #4 Fusano/Kops-Jones (30-9) will represent the Bears in the doubles competition. Fusano and Kops-Jones are making their second consecutive trip to the singles championship while Jacobs makes her first appearance. Kops-Jones has been a two-year fixture in the doubles championship, but makes her first trip with Fusano in 2003.
REVIEWING THE PAC-10 CHAMPIONSHIPS: The Bears backed up their season-long Top 5 ranking with solid singles and doubles play at the Pac-10 Championships, April 24-27. The fourth-ranked tandem of Fusano and Kops-Jones proved their might once again, claiming their second consecutive Pac-10 doubles crown - outscoring their opponents 24-8 en route to the title. Fusano, along with #84 Catherine Lynch, did not fare as well in singles play as both suffered first round defeats. But Kops-Jones reached her second consecutive singles title match after navigating through her first four opponents with relative ease. The junior All-American ran out of gas in the finals, however, dropping a 7-6(6), 6-2 decision to Oregon's #20 Daria Panova. Cal dominated the invitational draw with both Nicole Havlicek and Jody Scheldt advancing to an all-Cal final. Scheldt claimed the invitational crown with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over her teammate. The Golden Bears finished the four-day event with a 15-5 overall record in singles competition, and 5-1 in doubles play.
SCOUTING ARMY: The Black Knights enter their fourth NCAA Tournament appearance in five years, riding a seven-match winning streak. They won the Patriot League's automatic berth with a 4-0 win over American in the league's championship match. The Patriot League champions head into the NCAAs with a 17-6 mark. In each of its three previous NCAA appearances, Army also faced a Pac-10 Conference opponent. In their first NCAA Tournament match in 1999, the Black Knights lost to this same California team, 9-0. The next year, they came back and lost 6-0 at Arizona State. Two seasons ago Washington downed Army by a 4-0 margin. Army is led by freshman Megan Noble with a 22-13 overall singles record, while she pairs with senior Annie Collier for a 29-8 doubles slate.
SCOUTING LSU: The #50 Tigers qualified for their ninth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, becoming one of only 13 program's in the nation to reach nine straight NCAA Tournaments. LSU heads into the tournament with an overall record of 12-12 on the season after finishing as the second-place team in the highly-competitive Western Division of the Southeastern Conference. The Lady Tigers have played what is arguably the nation's toughest schedule this season with 18 of their 24 matches coming against nationally-ranked opponents. The Tigers have defeated six top-75 ranked opponents this season, including victories over No. 26 Tulane, No. 31 Ohio State, No. 31 Auburn (Ohio State and Auburn were ranked No. 31 at different times), No. 51 Ole Miss, No. 59 Arkansas and the 71st-ranked Southern Methodist Lady Mustangs. Freshman Marina Chiarelli leads the squad in overall singles victories with a 19-14 record. Rocio Fantilli and Lauren Seaman combine to lead the doubles slate with a 17-11 overall record.
SCOUTING TEXAS A&M: The #28 Aggies, co-champions of the Big 12 regular season title, received the home court advantage after being selected to host one of the 16 regional competitions. The A&M women, who are making their fourth straight NCAA tournament appearance and ninth overall, are hosting for only the second time. The Aggies took advantage of their opportunity to host in 1996 as they made A&M's best ever run by defeating both Baylor and Arkansas in the first two rounds before being eliminated by Vanderbilt in the regional finals. Junior #71 Jessica Roland is the Aggies only ranked singles player, entering postseason play with a 23-13 overall record. She combines with junior Roberta Spencer as the 35th ranked doubles tandem in the nation with a 20-10 overall slate. Roland was selected to represent A&M in the NCAA singles competition, while her and Spencer were selected for postseason doubles play.
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