No. 11 USC Women Host Top-10 Teams This Week

Feb. 26, 2008

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THIS WEEK: After six straight road matches, the No. 11 Women of Troy (8-2) return home to Marks Stadium this week to square off against two top-10 opponents. USC will host No. 8 California (6-2) at 1:30 p.m. on Friday (Feb. 29) before facing No. 6 Stanford (6-2) at 12 p.m. on Saturday (March 1).

ITA RANKING UPDATES: USC (8-2) moved into a tie at #11 in the nation in the latest ITA team rankings (released Feb. 26). 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. CAL: The Bears are ranked No. 8 in the nation and are 6-2 overall after beating Washington State 6-1 and Washington 5-2 last week. Cal's two losses this season have come to Northwestern (4-0) and Miami (4-3). Cal has five ranked singles players -- #7 Susie Babos, #41 Cristina Visico, #52 Marina Cossou, #83 Claire Ilcinkas and #87 Bojana Bobusic -- and #53 Babos/Kusano ranked in doubles. USC is 29-24 all-time against the Bears after splitting last season with a 5-2 loss and a 4-3 Pac-10 win.

USC VS. STANFORD: The Cardinal are ranked No. 6 in the nation and are 6-2 overall after beating Washington 7-0 and Washington State 5-1 last week. Stanford's two losses this season have come to Cal (6-1) and to Georgia Tech (4-3). Stanford has five ranked singles players -- #9 Jessica Nguyen, #31 Carolyn McVeigh, #45 Whitney Deason, #49 Hilary Barte and #54 Celia Durkin -- and two ranked doubles teams -- #27 Deason/Nguyen and #58 Nguyen/Barte. USC is 17-55 all-time against the Cardinal. Stanford has won the past 47 straight matches against USC, with the Trojans last winning 6-3 on April 4, 1986. USC fell 5-2 at Stanford and got its closest to an upset in a 4-3 loss at home last season.

RECENT RESULTS: In USC's fifth and sixth straight matches on the road, the Trojans got a road sweep with a 6-1 win at #52 Arizona and a 5-2 victory at #18 ASU. Against the Wildcats, USC was anchored by a solid doubles performance and five straight-set wins in singles including Amanda Fink's match-clinching win at the No. 2 position. Sarah Fansler got back in a winning mode in the match with a smooth 6-0, 6-2 win at the No. 4 spot to open singles play. Arizona grabbed its lone point of the match when #60 Danielle Steinberg beat USC's #68 Lindsey Nelson after a hard-fought tiebreaker for a 6-4, 7-6 (11-9) decision. Against ASU, USC dropped the doubles point but came through in singles with some important three-setters, including Gabriela Niculescu's 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 match-clinching win over Kelcy McKenna at No. 2 singles. Fansler won again with straight-set win at No. 3, and Leyla Entekhabi increased her win streak to nine straight with a win at No. 5. Pulling off three-set wins for the Women of Troy were Amanda Fink at No. 1, and Maria Sanchez at No. 5 to round out the win for the Trojans.

WINNING WAYS: Win streaks are alive and well for several Women of Troy, led by an unblemished dual match singles record by Leyla Entekhabi, who is 8-0 in dual matches and 16-4 overall. Sarah Fansler also pieced together a pair of wins last week to stand at 5-4 dual and 7-8 overall; Amanda Fink holds a four-match win streak with 8-1 dual and 20-4 overall marks. And holding three-game winning runs are Gabriela Niculescu (8-2, 16-5) and Maria Sanchez (7-3, 16-7).

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 8-6 overall record and 6-3 dual matches mark while battling injuries. Nelson is one singles victory away from posting her 100th career singles win.

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 leads the Trojans with 20 singles win, going 8-1 in dual match singles play and 20-4 overall. Fansler holds a 5-4 dual record and 7-8 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. The pair ranks #5 in the nation and is 19-5 overall and 8-1 in dual match play. Niculescu is also proving herself a singles powerhouse as well. She's 8-2 in dual match play and is 16-5 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 19-4 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.

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