No. 12 USC Stays On The Road, Visit Arizona and ASU

Feb. 21, 2008

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THIS WEEK: The No. 12 Women of Troy (6-2) continue on its lengthy road straight with two more matches this weekend. By the time USC is done visiting Arizona and Arizona State, the Trojans will have played six straight matches on the road. This Friday (Feb. 22) USC will visit No. 52 Arizona for a 1:30 p.m. match in Tucson. And on Saturday (Feb. 22) the Trojans will face No. 18 Arizona State at 1:30 p.m. in Tempe.

ITA RANKING UPDATES: USC (6-2) moved to #12 in the nation in the latest ITA team rankings (released Feb. 20). The first individual rankings since the preseason also were released on Feb. 20, with Amanda Fink ranked #17, Lindsey Nelson at #68 and Gabriela Niculescu at #97. In doubles, Fink/Niculescu remain ranked #5 in the nation, and Nelson/Sanchez have moved in to rank #39.

USC VS. ARIZONA: The Wildcats are ranked No. 52 in the nation and are 5-3 overall after a 5-1 loss to Sacramento State and a 6-0 loss to Long Beach State last week. Arizona is led by #60 Danielle Steinberg. USc beat Arizona 7-0 and 5-2 last season.

USC VS. ASU: The Sun Devils rank No. 18 in the nation and are 6-1 overall after beating Long Beach State 6-1 last week. ASU is led by #63 Nadia Abdala and #78 Kelcy McKenna. USC beat ASU 4-3 and 6-1 last season.

RECENT RESULTS: In USC's fourth straight match on the road, the Trojans served up a smooth 7-0 win over host No. 52 San Diego State, getting back in winning mode after two tight losses last weekend at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships. The Women of Troy reeled off three doubles wins to set up six straight-set victories in singles, with freshman Lyndsay Kinstler clinching the match on a 6-1, 6-3 decision.

WINNING WAYS: After USC's tough run at the National Team Indoors, only freshman Leyla Entekhabi still carries an untarnished singled record in dual match play. Entekhabi played at the No. 6 slot for USC's first two matches, winning in both to hold a 6-0 dual match singles mark. Cristala Andrews stepped in for the third match and kept USC's record in that position intact, winning in her first dual match singles competition. Meanwhile, three Trojans were dealt their first dual match losses of the year while in Wisconsin, moving Lindsey Nelson to 5-2, Gabriela Niculescu to 5-2 and Amanda Fink to 5-1 entering USC's next dual match action. All three got back on track in that one with straight-set victories, as USC swept San Diego State.

SENIOR STAR: Headlining the recent successes of the Women of Troy has been senior Lindsey Nelson. The 2007 Pac-10 singles champion and three-time All-American has now made back-to-back trips to the NCAA singles final. A two-time Honda Award finalist, Nelson is USC's lone senior on the roster this year, and she brought a 91-27 overall singles record into the dual match season. She opened with four straight wins at the No. 1 singles slot this year, and has moved into the ITA rankings at #68, holding an 8-5 overall record and 6-2 dual matches mark.

BACK FOR MORE: USC has two National Rookies of the Year on the roster for 2008. Now a junior, 2006 Rookie of the Year Amanda Fink is is joined by 2007 Rookie of the Year Sarah Fansler. Fansler and Fink stacked up at No. 2 and No. 3 singles, respectively, throughout much of the 2007 season. After leading the Trojans in singles wins with 32 as a freshman, Fansler earned a spot in the NCAA Singles Championships along with Nelson. Fink shined in singles and doubles once again, and earned her second All-Pac-10 selection. Now ranked No. 17 in the nation, Fink is 6-1 in dual match singles play and is 18-4 overall. Fansler holds a 5-8 singles mark so far this season.

DOUBLE TROUBLE: Gabriela Niculescu sat out her first year at Troy but is good to go for 2008. She and Amanda Fink have already teamed up in fall doubles action, claiming the ITA West Regional doubles championship and entering the 2008 dual match season as the #5 doubles team in the nation. Niculescu is also proving herself a singles powerhouse as well. She's 6-2 in dual match play and is 14-5 overall, now ranked No. 97 in ITA rankings.

FIRST THINGS FIRST: USC has added four freshmen to the 2008 roster, and all four have already jumped into the win column. Cristala Andrews, Leyla Entekhabi, Lyndsay Kinstler and Maria Sanchez have all proven themselves as winners, tacking up victories in dual match play and in individual tournaments this season. The freshman foursome is a combined 15-3 in singles dual match play so far this season.

LAST SEASON: USC made its ninth straight appearance at the NCAA Championships after making its fourth straight second-place finish in Pac-10 action. USC posted a 19-5 overall record and reached the NCAA Championships Round of 16, where the Trojans fell 4-3 to its 2007 NCAA Semifinals opponent Miami.

WHAT'S TO COME: In order to stretch USC's NCAA appearance run to 10 straight trips, the Women of Troy will have a long dual-match season to power through. The only teams to beat the Trojans during the regular season in the past three years ­-- since Lindsey Nelson took up residence at Troy -- have been Pac-10 teams Stanford, Cal and UCLA, and nonconference foe Baylor. The Trojans will have their usual two clashes with the Pac-10 schools, and the only out-of-state nonconference trip on the docket will take USC to Texas for a dual match tilt in March.

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