No. 7 Cal Set To Tangle With Arizona and Arizona State

Feb. 21, 2007


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The seventh-ranked California women's tennis team (4-2) heads to the desert this weekend after collecting two huge wins over ranked opponents in Berkeley last weekend. Cal is riding plenty of momentum after knocking off No. 15 UCLA and No. 8 USC, and will tangle with Arizona on Friday, Feb. 23, at 1:30 p.m. before facing No. 22 Arizona State at 12 p.m. the next day. Following the weekend in Arizona, the Bears come back to Northern California for a showdown with top-ranked Stanford on March 3 on The Farm.

The Wildcats are also carrying some momentum when they welcome the Bears on Friday. Arizona (5-3) is currently on a four-match winning streak which includes victories over San Diego State and Pac-10 opponents, Washington and Washington State. A victory over in-state rival Northern Arizona kicked off the dual season for the Wildcats before they went on three-match losing streak. The Sun Devils are 6-1 and are undefeated on their home court thus far. Their match against the Bears will be their eighth home match in their first nine total matches. They also have a highly-ranked doubles duo that Cal will have to contend with. No. 8 Kady Pooler and Roxanne Clarke defeated Ekaterina Burduli and Marjolein van den Ven from Washington State, 8-4, in their last match.

The Bears were perfect against the Arizona schools in 2006. The last time they battled in the desert, Cal defeated Arizona, 6-1, and Arizona State, 5-2. Earlier in the season, the teams met in Berkeley and the outcomes were much the same. The Bears beat the Wildcats, 5-1, and the Sun Devils, 6-1. The all-time series records show that Cal has dominated against both of these conference foes, collecting at least 40 wins against each team. The Bears are 40-15 against Arizona and 44-13 against Arizona State.

Coming in on a two-match losing streak, Cal decisively took down two high-ranked conference foes, last weekend. The Bears swept No. 15 UCLA last Friday, 7-0. On the No. 1 court, fifth-ranked Susie Babos defeated last week's Pac-10 Women's Tennis Player of the Week, Riza Zalameda, 7-5, 7-5. The day started off well for Cal, as it won all three doubles matches. The fourth-ranked doubles team of Babos and senior Zsuzsanna Fodor got the best of Zalameda and Lin, 8-4. Nina Henkel and sophomore Daron Moore clinched the doubles point for the Bears with an 8-6 victory over Alex McGoodwin and Ashley Joelson. The following afternoon against USC, the Bears took down the Trojans, 5-2. In a rematch of last year's NCAA singles final, Babos squared off against Lindsey Nelson. Babos made short work of her opponent in the rematch, beating Nelson, 6-1, 6-2. The match-clinching victory came on the third court, as Henkel beat Amanda Fink in straight sets, 7-6, 6-2. Junior Marion Ravelojaona and sophomore Bojana Bobusic clinched the doubles point with their victory on the third court.

The accomplishments keep piling up for the reigning NCAA singles champion Susie Babos. The Hungarian was named the Pac-10 Women's Tennis Player of the Week for Feb. 12-18, as annuonced by Commissioner Tom Hansen. Babos earned the award after her two straight-set victories over Riza Zalameda of UCLA and USC's Lindsey Nelson. Babos was also recognized for her two doubles wins last weekend with partner, Zsuzsanna Fodor. Her overall singles record this season stands at 18-5, which includes her ITA All-American Championship from the fall.

One of the inside stories behind last weekend's victories is how close junior Cristina Visico came to missing at least the Friday match against UCLA. Visico, who won convincingly in both of her singles matches last weekend, had been battling strep throat since the end of the ITA Indoor Championships. According to associate head coach Damon Coupe, Visico was a match-time decision whether or not she would play. Visico battled against her counterpart from UCLA with little energy and earned the victory, then came back the next day and repeated the same feat. For how close she came to being out of the lineup, Visico was the only Bear to dominate consistently throughout both singles matches against UCLA and USC.

Zsuzsanna Fodor has been on a tear since the Cal Winter Invitational in January. The senior garnered an eight-match winning streak to open the spring season. Fodor was the only Bear to pick up a win against Stanford in the second round of the ITA Indoor Championships, as she knocked off Anne Yelsey, 6-1, 6-4. It was her victory over Tracy Lin of UCLA that clinched the victory for the Bears, in their 7-0 sweep over the Bruins. Fodor has had some dominating singles wins over the past month. She beat Brittany Blalock of Cal Poly, 6-1, 6-1, on Jan. 13. In the dual-match season opener against Sacrmento State on Jan. 20, Fodor defeated Katrina Bandere, 6-1, 6-0. Against San Diego State on Jan. 28, Fodor handled Alesya Vidov, 6-1, 6-1. All the wins propelled Fodor up the ITA singles rankings from 32 to 14.

The impressive string of championships won by Cal in 2006 includes the Pac-10 Singles title by Zsuzsanna Fodor, as she defeated then-No. 10 ranked Amanda Fink of USC to claim the title. Fodor, a 2006 All-American along with Susie Babos, was also named the Pac-10 Player of the Year last season. She entered postseason play ranked No. 3 by the Fila Collegiate Tennis Rankings.

Last May, Susie Babos became the first Golden Bear from the women's team to win the NCAA Singles title, becoming just the fourth international player to ever win the national singles title and the second Bear to advance to the NCAA final since Lisa Albano in 1991. In addition, Babos also was the sixth unseeded player to advance to the NCAA final, sixth sophomore to win the national championship and the 15th Pac-10 NCAA singles champion. She defeated USC's Lindsey Nelson, 6-4, 6-1, in the final. Along the way of winning the national crown, Babos upset the 2005 NCAA champ and No. 4 seed Zuzana Zemenova of Baylor, 6-3, 6-4, in the quarterfinals.

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