California's Babos, Arizona State's Pooler and Clarke Win Titles At All-American Championships
Oct. 11, 2006
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. - The first major national tournament of the collegiate women's tennis season was contested last week with the main draw of the Riviera/ITA All-American Championships taking place Oct. 5-8 at the Riviera Tennis Club. After the final ball was struck, it was a trio of Pac-10 players on top of the heap. CALIFORNIA junior Susie Babos captured the singles title, and ARIZONA STATE'S senior duo of Kady Pooler and Roxanne Clarke netted the doubles championship.
For Babos, a native of Sopron, Hungary, the title was her second straight national tournament win, after she won the NCAA Championships in May. She became the first woman in 11 years to have reached the final in all three national singles championships, having also finished runner-up in the ITA National Indoor Championships as a freshman in 2004. Another Pac-10 standout, UCLA's Keri Phebus, was the last player to reach all three finals in 1994-95.
Despite being the reigning NCAA Singles Champion, Babos was unseeded in the tournament, but she proved that her NCAA title was no fluke, winning five matches in four days culminating in a 5-7, 6-3, 7-6 (8) win over Fresno State's Melanie Gloria in the championship match on Sunday, October 8. It was the first final in the 24-year history of the event to be decided in a third-set tiebreak.
Babos defeated four players ranked in the Top-40 of the preseason FILA/ITA Rankings, including second-ranked Kristi Miller of Georgia Tech and Gloria who was ranked 19th. Babos is ranked 12th in the FILA poll. She also becomes the second Golden Bear to win the All-American Championships in just the past four years, as Raquel Kops-Jones won the title in 2003.
For Pooler and Clarke to capture the doubles crown, they needed to unseat the defending All-American champions, Catrina and Christian Thompson of Notre Dame. The Thompson twins were seeded third and reached the final for the third year in a row, but were overwhelmed early by Pooler and Clarke as the fourth-seeded Sun Devils raced out to a 5-0 lead and coasted to an 8-4 victory. Pooler, a native of Laguna Nigel, Calif., and Clarke, who hails from Cape Town, South Africa, gave Arizona State its first ever title at the All-American Championships with their win.
This year was the first time since 1990 that Pac-10 players swept the singles and doubles titles at the All-American Championships. In 1990, Debbie Graham and Sandra Birch of STANFORD won the doubles title and Birch defeated Graham in the singles final as well.
The Riviera/ITA All-American Championships feature the biggest field of any collegiate tennis tournament. Held annually at the Riviera Tennis Club, the Championships begin with 64-player, 32-team prequalifying draws in singles and doubles that feed eight singles players and four doubles teams into 64-player, 32-team qualifying draws where eight more singles players and four more doubles teams can earn spots in the main singles and doubles draws. All in all that makes for over 170 singles players and 80-plus doubles teams competing in the event.
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