No. 11 USC Women Clash With No. 19 UCLA

March 7, 2007

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THIS WEEK: The No. 11 Women of Troy return to California and head across town to square off against No. 19 UCLA, as USC looks to extend its dual match win streak against the Bruins. USC has won the past three matches. The first Lexus Gauntlet clash of the year comes at the Los Angeles Tennis Center on Thursday (March 8) at 1:30 p.m.

ITA RANKING UPDATES: USC (8-2, 2-0 Pac-10) began the season ranked #3 in the nation, but has moved to #11 in the latest ITA national rankings (released March 6). On the individual side in those recent rankings, freshman Sarah Fansler sits at #13 in singles, followed by #15 Lindsey Nelson, #91 Dianne Matias and #113 Katja Decker-Sadowski. In doubles, Fansler/Matias are #25, ahead of #37 DeVera/Fink and #42 Matias/Nelson.

GRAB THE GAUNTLET: With the Lexus Gauntlet in the final stretch of the 18-sport crosstown competition, this USC-UCLA women's match puts another 2.5 points up for grabs. In the first five years of the Gauntlet competition, the archrivals have alternated winning the trophy. USC won the inaugural trophy in 2002, 2004 and 2006. UCLA captured the rivalry's crown jewel in 2003 and 2005. UCLA currently owns a 47.5-17.5 advantage in pursuit of the 150-pound, pewter-gilded trophy presented by the Southern California Lexus Dealers.

USC VS. UCLA: USC is 40-26 all-time against the Bruins after winning the past three matches. The Trojans topped UCLA 4-3 and 5-2 last season. #19 UCLA is 8-4 overall and 2-0 in Pac-10 play, with #24 Riza Zalameda, #36 Yasmin Schnack and #44 Tracy Lin ranked in singles and #33 Schnack/Zalameda, #46 Lumpkin/Wetmore and #59 Lin/Lumpkin ranked in doubles.

RECENT RESULTS: USC opened its Pac-10 run with a pair of decisive road wins, as the Trojans pinned up 7-0 sweeps at #56 Washington State and at Washington last week. USC opened with three strong doubles victories in both matches. Playing together for the first time this season, senior-freshman combo Anastasiu/Fansler got two wins at the No. 3 position, while #31-ranked Trojan pair DeVera/Fink stayed perfect in dual match doubles action, and Nelson/Smekodub held down the fort at No. 1. In singles, already perfect at the No. 6 singles position, Julie Smekodub extended that run to a 5-0 mark with a smooth 6-0, 6-0 win over Washington's Morgan Ramser to start things off for the Women of Troy. Judy DeVera stepped into the No. 5 slot and got two wins as well, while No. 1 Lindsey Nelson, No. 2 Sarah Fansler, No. 3 Amanda Fink and No. 4 Anca Anastasiu kept up the momentum with a winning weekend as well, helping USC to a 2-0 start to Pac-10 action.

DRIVING FORCE: 2006 Honda Award finalist Lindsey Nelson is back again for the Women of Troy, holding down the fiercely competitive No. 1 singles slot for dual match play. She reached the NCAA singles final last season, and holds a 14-3 singles record so far this year as a junior. To open 2007, Nelson added to her list of successes with a win in the championship match of the National Collegiate Tournament, beating UCLA's Yasmin Schnack to claim the title. She is 7-2 in dual matches and 14-3 overall in singles this season, and has moved up to rank #15 in the ITA rankings.

CHEERS FOR FANSLER: USC freshman Sarah Fansler made a name for herself quickly at Troy. She has the most singles wins (19), is 9-1 in dual match singles, and is USC's highest ranked singles player at #13. She was #9 as the 2007 season began -- a ranking earned largely from her championship run at the ITA West Regionals, where she became one of a string of Women of Troy to reach the final. Aside from 2003's tournament that was cancelled after the quarterfinals due to area fires, there has been a USC player in every ITA Western Regional singles final since 1998. Current Trojans Amanda Fink and Lindsey Nelson also reached the final in their freshman seasons, with Fink winning the title in 2005 and Nelson coming in second in 2004. Before that, Jewel Peterson won the title all four years (1999-2002), and Ditta Huber won in 1998.

LONE RANGER: 2006 Pac-10 Rookie of the Year Amanda Fink is the only lefty and the only sophomore on the USC roster, but she fits in perfectly on the Trojan ladder. She is locking down the No. 3 singles position, going 8-2 in dual match play so far and 13-7 overall.

SENIORITY RULES: USC has four seniors on the roster this year, and each and every one is loaded with experience. Three of them were members of USC's 2006 NCAA Semifinalist squad that finished out the year ranked No. 3 in the nation. This year, Academic All-American Anca Anastasiu along with Judy DeVera and Dianne Matias are joined by senior transfer Julie Smekodub, who comes to USC with a year of eligibility remaining after Tulane closed the doors on its women's tennis program following a season cancelled by Hurricane Katrina. Smekodub and Anastasiu teamed up in the fall for doubles, winning the ITA West Regional Doubles Championship with a final victory over USC teammates Fansler/Matias. Matias (5-3 dual, 11-8 overall) is currently ranked in #91 singles.

ON GALLIEN'S WATCH: As head coach Richard Gallien's enters his 12th season at Troy, he has strung together 11 straight NCAA appearances for for USC along with 10 top-20 team rankings, six trips to the NCAA Quarterfinals and last season's journey to the NCAA Semifinals. Under Gallien's watch, USC has finished no lower than 11th for the past eight years. He has compiled a 197-91 overall record and .684 win percentage at USC. In his 14 years as a head coach (also coaching the men at Pepperdine prior to coming to USC), he boasts a 259-115 (.693) career mark. In 2006, Gallien's USC squad rolled to another 7-1 mark in Pac-10 play and worked its way into the NCAA Semifinals, where the Trojans fell to Miami in a match that was interrupted by rain and resumed the next day. USC finished with a 21-4 overall record and wound up ranked No. 3 at season's close.

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