No. 8 USC Women Kick Off Postseason At Pac-10 Championships
April 24, 2007
THIS WEEK: The No. 8 Women of Troy finished Pac-10 action last week with a 6-2 record to bring a 17-4 overall record into this week's Pac-10 Championships. USC's top four singles players and two doubles teams will vie for the Pac-10 titles at the action taking place in Ojai, Calif., from April 26-29. Keep an eye on Trojans Lindsey Nelson, Sarah Fansler, Amanda Fink and Dianne Matias in the race for the Pac-10 singles crown, while the doubles teams of Matias/Nelson and DeVera/Fink are in line to compete for the Pac-10 doubles title. Draws and results will be posted at www.ojaitourney.org, as well as on the Pac-10 website, www.pac-10.org.
ITA RANKING UPDATES: USC (17-4, 6-2 Pac-10) began the season ranked #3 in the nation, and currently ranks #8 in the latest ITA national rankings (released April 24). On the individual side, in rankings as of April 24, Lindsey Nelson sits at #9 in singles, followed by #10 Sarah Fansler, #73 Amanda Fink and #100 Dianne Matias.
PAC-10 PLANS: The Pac-10's nine women's teams head to Ojai, Calif., Thurs., April 26 through Sun., April 29, to decide the league's singles and doubles champions. For the women, the 32-player singles draw shall consist of three players from each of the nine schools that sponsor women's tennis, with five additional competitors selected by a committee of coaches, based upon the participants record. The 16-team doubles draw will have one doubles team from each school and seven additional teams selected by the committee, based upon the participants' record.
THIS TIME LAST YEAR: USC had five singles participants (Amanda Fink, Lindsey Nelson, Luana Magnani, Dianne Matias and Anca Anastasiu) in on the tournament action, and three doubles teams (DeVera/Fink, Matias/Carine Vermeulen, Magnani/Nelson) competing in the Pac-10 Championships. By tournament's end, then-freshman Amanda Fink had worked her way to the singles title match against Cal's Zsuzsanna Fodor, who won the 2006 Pac-10 singles title 7-6 (2), 6-3. In doubles, USC had two teams reach the quarterfinals.
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 opened her 2007 junior campaign by adding 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. Nelson is 14-5 in dual matches and 21-6 overall in singles this season, and currently ranks #9 in the ITA rankings.
GAME, SET, REMATCH: Junior Lindsey Nelson's 20th singles win of the year came in big-time fashion. She squared off against her opponent from the 2006 NCAA Singles Championship, Cal's #4 Susie Babos during USC's Pac-10 dual match with the Bears, and exacted some dramatic revenge over the 2006 title winner. Although Babos had bested Nelson in two sets in last year's NCAA final, Nelson refused to be put away in 2007. Nelson's three-set comeback -- 6-7 (4), 7-5, 6-1 -- clinched the match for the Trojans as well. She had been down 2-5 in the second set before reeling off five straight games to force a lopsided third set.
CHEERS FOR FANSLER: USC freshman Sarah Fansler has made a name for herself quickly at Troy. She boasts the most singles wins (27) on the team, is 16-4 in dual match singles, and is currently ranked #10 in singles. 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 16-5 in dual match play so far and 21-10 overall and held a seven-match win streak up until USC's Pac-10 match with Cal. The next day, Fink pulled off a big upset of Stanford's #9 Celia Durkin, helping to propel the sophomore Trojan back into the ITA rankings, where she now stands at #73 this week.
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 (16-5 dual, 23-11 overall) along with Judy DeVera (11-2, 17-6) and Dianne Matias (13-6, 19-11) are joined by senior transfer Julie Smekodub (10-3, 13-7), 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 is currently ranked #100 in singles, and DeVera is riding the team's longest current win streak with seven straight singles victories.
SWEET FIFTEEN: USC's senior-sophomore combo of Judy DeVera / Amanda Fink have been dominant in doubles play. The pair raged to a 15-match win streak in dual match action and has had a vice grip on the No. 2 position with a 15-3 record in that slot. DeVera/Fink are 24-7 overall and 16-3 in dual match action.
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 in those eight seasons 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.