No. 6 Cal Returns to Berkeley and Pac-10 Play This Weekend

March 27, 2007


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The sixth-ranked California women's tennis team (15-3) returns to the Hellman Tennis Center this weekend to contiue its Pac-10 schedule and begin a four-match homestand. The Golden Bears, currently on a seven-match winning streak, play Arizona State on Friday, March 30, at 1:30 p.m., and Arizona on Saturday, March 31, at 12 p.m. The following weekend, Cal welcomes Washington and Washington State to close out the homestand. The Bears have been on a roll since knocking off UCLA on Feb. 16. Starting with the victory over the Bruins, Cal has won 11 of its last 12 matches.

No. 19 Arizona State gave Cal a run for its money when the teams met in Tempe earlier this season. The Bears earned a 4-3 victory over the Sun Devils on Feb. 24. ASU's doubles team of Roxanne Clarke and Kady Pooler is currently ranked ninth in the ITA doubles rankings. Since the defeat by Cal, ASU has gone 3-3 and won its last two matches. Following losses at Duke, UCLA and USC, the Sun Devils notched victories over Cornell and Arizona. The Bears defeated Arizona, 6-1, in their first meeting this season on Feb. 23. Since the loss to Cal, Arizona has only won three of its last seven matches. The Wildcats recorded victories over Tulsa, New Mexico and Cornell.

The biggest of the two wins for Cal in the Aloha Invitational was a 6-1 victory over No. 9 Northwestern on Saturday. In a battle of two top-10 doubles teams, No. 3 Susie Babos and Zsuzsanna Fodor beat No. 10 Alexis Prousis and Georgia Rose, 8-5. The victory helped Cal take the opening point. In singles, the Bears only lost one singles matches. In addition, four of the five victorious Bears won in straight sets. Fourth-ranked Babos handled Samantha Murray, 6-3, 6-4, on the No. 2 court. No. 17 freshman Nina Henkel won a tough first set, 7-6, on the third court against Prousis. She later took the second set, 6-4, to win the match. The next day, Cal swept Hawaii, 6-0. Cal won all six singles matches in straight sets, with only one Bear losing more than two games in a set. Juniors Stephanie Kusano, Cristina Visico and Marion Ravelojaona each won their singles matches by the score of 6-0, 6-2. Sophomore Claire Ilcinkas shut out Julia Sandborn, 6-0, 6-0. Fellow sophomore Bojana Bobusic handled Florence Wasko, 6-0, 6-1.

The Bears improved to a perfect 8-0 at home this season when they beat TCU on Saturday, March 17. Cal is 7-1 in March, including a 5-0 homestand. In the seven victories, five of them were by the score of 6-1. The other two were shutouts. The first shutout was a 7-0 sweep over Oregon in the Pac-10 opener, while the second was the 6-0 sweep over Hawaii in the Bears' last match. Pepperdine was the first victim to fall to Cal in its five-match homestand on March 4. After the victory over the Ducks, Cal went on to beat Loyola Marymount, Texas and TCU before the two victories in Hawaii. The match against the Longhorns featured two comeback wins by Susie Babos and Zsuzsanna Fodor. The same day that Fodor came back to win that match, she was named the Pac-10 Women's Tennis Player of the Week for the previous week. The Bears won't have to leave the state of California for the rest of the spring season, with the only remaining road games taking place in Los Angeles.

One of Cal's most successful players this season has been freshman Nina Henkel. Henkel, currently ranked No. 17 in the ITA singles rankings, has won 11 of her last 12 matches. Henkel notched two singles wins in Hawaii last weekend. Her victory over Alexis Prousis helped Cal take down No. 9 Northwestern. The next day, she made her spring debut on the No. 1 court against Hawaii and beat Sophie Kobuch, 6-0, 6-3. She picked up a decisive, 6-2, 6-2, victory against Sarah Lancaster from Texas (March 12), which was followed by a 6-1, 6-1 win over TCU's Ana Cetnik (March 17). Henkel won in doubles with Marion Ravelojaona against the Horned Frogs and the Longhorns as well. Henkel picked up a singles win against Oregon and a doubles victory against Loyola Marymount earlier this month. Against Stanford on March 3, she turned in a big victory against the Cardinal, as Henkel took down No. 8 Celia Durkin, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2. The next day against Pepperdine, she earned her second singles win of the weekend when she defeated Katie Sebate, 6-1, 2-6, 6-2. Henkel clinched the match victory for the Bears on the No. 3 court. In doubles against the Waves, Henkel and junior Stephanie Kusano beat Sebate and Bianca Dulgheru, 8-6.

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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