Kops-Jones Advances in NCAA Singles & Doubles Competition
May 20, 2003
Gainesville, Fla. - After the first two days of NCAA Individual play, junior #6 Raquel Kops-Jones remains the only Bear alive after surviving the first two days of singles play, but teamed with senior Christina Fusano in doubles, the pair advanced to the Round of 16 with their victory this afternoon, May 20 at the Ring Tennis Complex at the University of Florida in Gainesville.
Kops-Jones defeated Tennessee's #51 Crystal Cleveland, 6-4, 6-3, in her first singles match on Monday, May 19 to advance to a Round of 32 matchup with #49 Alix Lacelarie of Clemson.
'It was a tough match, every game was very close,' said Kops-Jones. 'I was watching all the matches out here before mine started and every seeded player was being challenged and their were a lot of close matches because everyone here really wants it. I was prepared for a close, tough match and I got it.'
Against Lacelarie, the Cal junior claimed a 6-4, 7-6 (6) victory to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time in her career to face Tulane's #33 Julie Smekodub Wednesday, May 21. In 2001, Kops-Jones advanced to the Round of 32 and in 2002 she did not advance past the first round.
'My strategy was to find one, because I've never played her before and didn't know what her game was like,' stated Kops-Jones about her match with Lacalarie. 'So I just mixed it up to find out what she doesn't like the most - give her everything - high balls and low balls.'
Two days after being eliminated from the team competition by arch-rival Stanford, team captain #25 Christina Fusano faced the Cardinal's #27 Erin Burdette for a shot at a little redemption. Fusano was never really challenged in the match, completing a 6-2, 6-2 straight-set victory to advance to Tuesday's Round of 32 matchup with #15 Daria Panova of Oregon. Fusano ousted Panova in the quarterfinals of the Northwest Regionals, 6-4, 6-1, in October, but could not repeat the performance falling 7-5, 6-3 to eliminate her from the singles competition.
Fusano and Kops-Jones, the #4 ranked doubles tandem in the nation, commenced doubles play Tuesday, May 20 in the first round against #16 Chloe Carlotti and Lucia Tallo of Fresno State. The Cal tandem entered the NCAA Team Championships fresh off their second consecutive Pac-10 doubles title and a 3-1 slate in NCAA team play. Cal and Fresno State battled neck and neck through the first set, with neither team able to gain more than a one-game lead. Tied 6-6, the teams entered a tiebreaker and the Bears' tandem used a 4-1 lead to take the tiebreaker, 7-3, and the first set in the process. Fusano and Kops-Jones used that momentum to open up a 3-0 lead in the second set, but Carlotti and Tallo cut their lead to 3-2. Two great service games from the Cal duo gave them a 5-3 advantage before breaking Fresno's service game to win the match, 7-6 (7-3), 6-3. They will face #14 Hillary Adams and Kelly McCain of Duke Wednesday, May 21 in the Round of 16.
'It was very competitive. We were both a little tired,' said Kops-Jones. 'We struggled a bit in the beginning, but then we got better. They used a really good strategy and positioning.'
'I thought they played really well,' Fusano said regarding her opponents. 'There were a lot of long points, and I think it was key that we won a lot of them. It was the difference in the match. The first set was a tie-breaker.'
In other news, at the individual awards banquet held by the ITA Sunday, May 18, both Fusano and Kops-Jones were honored for their achievements in 2003. Fusano received three different awards, including the Northwest Region Senior Player of the Year, the Cissie Leary Sportsmanship Award honoring outstanding sportsmanship and the Arthur Ashe Sportsmanship and Leadership Award honoring excellence in community service endeavors. Fusano was an integral part of the 'Bear Trax' program at Cal, a new college-based learning center at Cal to serve children from low-income communities in Oakland.
Kops-Jones received the ITA Northwest Region Player to Watch Award, honoring a spectacular 2003 season in which she entered the postseason with a career-high in wins with a 39-14 record.
Complete tournament results can be found on the University of Florida's website at www.GatorZone.com.
CALIFORNIA RESULTS:Singles:Monday, May 19, 2003 - Round of 641. #6 Raquel Kops-Jones (Cal) d. #51 Crystal Cleveland (Tenn), 6-4, 6-32. #25 Christina Fusano (Cal) d. #27 Erin Burdette (Stan), 6-2, 6-2Tuesday, May 20, 2003 - Round of 321. #6 Raquel Kops-Jones (Cal) d. #49 Alix Lacelarie (Clemson), 6-4, 7-6 (8-6)2. #15 Daria Panova (UO) d. #25 Christina Fusano (Cal), 7-5, 6-3Wednesday, May 21, 2003 - Round of 161. #6 Raquel Kops-Jones (Cal) vs. #33 Julie Smekodub (Tulane)
Doubles:Tuesday, May 20, 2003 - Round of 321. #4 Fusano/Kops-Jones (Cal) d. #16 Carlotti/Tallo (Fresno St), 7-6 (7-3), 6-3Wednesday, May 21, 2003 - Round of 161. #4 Fusano/Kops-Jones (Cal) vs. #14 Adams/McCain (Duke)