No. 8 Golden Bears Clash with No. 21 Sun Devils and Wildcats

March 31, 2009


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THIS WEEK: The No. 8-ranked California women's tennis team (12-4, 3-1 Pac-10) returns home for the beginning of a five-match home-stand as the Golden Bears host No. 21 Arizona State (10-4, 3-0 Pac-10) and No. 59 Arizona (10-5, 1-2 Pac-10) at the Hellman Tennis Complex this weekend. Cal takes on the Sun Devils on Friday, April 3 at 1:30 p.m. in an attempt to knock ASU off its perch as co-conference leaders with No. 7 USC. Next, the Bears will tangle with the Wildcats on Saturday, April 4 at noon. Both matches will be webcast live via the women's tennis site.

BEARS IN THE RANKS: The Bears are ranked No. 8 as a team in the most recent (March 31) Campbell's/ITA (Intercollegiate Tennis Association) College Tennis Poll. Cal has five ranked singles players with 10th-ranked freshman Jana Juricova at the top of that list. Senior Bojana Bobusic is No. 21 and sophomore Marina Cossou is No. 25. Sophomore Mari Andersson holds the No. 42 ranking and senior Claire Ilcinkas is ranked No. 47 to give the Bears five singles players among the top 50 in the nation. Cal's arsenal also includes three of the top 40 doubles teams in the country as Andersson and Juricova combine for the No. 6 ranking; Cossou and Ilcinkas become the No. 20-ranked doubles team; and Bobusic and Juricova are ranked No. 38.

CAL COLLECTING WEEKLY CONFERENCE HONORS: Three Bears have won Pac-10 Women's Tennis Player of the Week honors this season to give Cal nine such awards all time; the most of any Pac-10 team. Sophomore Mari Andersson won the award for the week of Feb. 9-15 and freshman Jana Juricova took home honors for the week of March 9-15. Senior Bojana Bobusic claimed the prize for the week of March 16-22 to make it the first time in school history that Cal has had three winners in the same season.

POWER OF THE PAC: Seven of the Pac-10's women's tennis teams hold rankings in the latest Campbell's/ITA College Tennis Poll of NCAA Division I Women's Tennis teams--making the Pac-10 one of the toughest leagues in collegiate women's tennis. No. 7-ranked USC leads the way; followed closely by eighth-ranked Cal. No. 10 Stanford and No. 12 UCLA come up next on the list with Arizona State at No. 21 to give the conference five teams in the top-25 alone. Washington holds the No. 31 spot with Arizona at No. 59. Washington State cracked the rankings for the first time on March 17 at No. 74 but has since fallen off. Oregon was also ranked for several weeks this season. Last year, Cal and UCLA battled it out in the NCAA team championship match to give the conference full control of the national title. Three Pac-10 teams made the NCAA quarterfinals and four made it as far as the round of 16. The conference also produced two NCAA singles championship quarterfinalists and the doubles national champion among its 10 ITA All-Americans. Four of those All-American were Bears including currently active senior Claire Ilcinkas and sophomore Marina Cossou as well as Susie Babos and Stephanie Kusano.

LAST WEEK: The Bears wrapped up their only conference road-trip of the season with a split in Los Angeles. Cal fell by a narrow 4-3 margin to USC before it exacted revenge and took out UCLA, 6-1, in a rematch of last year's NCAA championship match. The Bears surrendered the doubles point for just the fifth time this season to the Women of Troy but bounced back to get three points in singles play. Sophomore Mari Andersson returned from a couple of weeks away with an injury to claim a victory at court two over No. 25-ranked Sarah Fansler in three sets. Senior Bojana Bobusic also maintained her dual-match winning streak by taking out No. 58-ranked Gabriela Niculescu in a third-set super tiebreaker. Upset with the loss, the Bears released their frustrations in Westwood, as they reclaimed control of the doubles courts to open the match with the first point. Freshman Jana Juricova made things look easy with a 6-1, 6-1 win over No. 16-ranked Yasmin Schnack at the top court to run her record to a team-high 29-5 on the year. Bobusic also got her 29th win to extend her streak to ten singles matches with a 15-1 record in duals as she defeated UCLA's Nina Pantic at No. 4 singles. Freshman Stephany Chang got her 24th singles win of the year against the Bruins with a 15-13 super-tiebreaker win over Carling Seguso at No. 6 singles to help bring the Bears back to Berkeley with a win in hand.

ON COURT - NO. 21 ARIZONA STATE: The Sun Devils (10-4, 3-0 Pac-10) got their 10th win of the season with a 6-1 victory over Sacramento State on March 28. Since falling to the Bears on March 15, Arizona State has won both of its matches by a combined score of 13-1. The Devils are led by No. 3-ranked sophomore Kelcy McKenna. McKenna is a familiar face in Berkeley, having claimed the 2008 Cal Nike Invitational Gold Flight singles title in September last year. She has a 32-6 singles record this season with a 12-1 mark at the top singles court in duals. Her only loss came at the hands of Cal freshman Jana Juricova on March 15. No. 53-ranked junior Nadia Abdala holds a 15-3 record and is also 12-1 in dual matches this season. No. 92-ranked sophomore Micaela Hein has posted a 13-8 mark with a 5-2 record on the third singles court in dual matches. The Sun Devils have two ranked doubles teams; McKenna and Hein are ranked No. 13 with a 17-6 record together at the top court (6-4 in duals), and Abdala joins her sister Laila Abdala as the No. 71-ranked doubles tandem with a 13-8 overall record, 9-5 in duals. Cal leads the all-time series with a 36-13 advantage and has won the last eight meetings, including the 5-2 victory in Tempe, Ariz. two weeks ago.

ON COURT - NO. 59 ARIZONA: The Wildcats (10-5, 1-2 Pac-10) have won their last three matches and five of their last seven since emerging from a three-match losing streak. Prior to that three-match skid, the Cats had won their first five matches of the season. No. 94-ranked senior Danielle Sternberg leads the way for Arizona with a 16-7 mark, going 11-3 in duals at the top singles court. Freshman Natasha Marks holds a 14-5 record in her first year on campus with an 11-4 record in dual matches from the second and third singles courts. Marks faced Cal senior Bojana Bobusic at the Cal Nike Invitational last fall, giving up a two-set victory to Bobusic. Fellow freshman Sarah Landsman started her collegiate career with a loss to Cal freshman Jana Juricova at the Nike Invite, but has since gone on to post an impressive 23-5 record with a 14-1 mark in dual matches. Arizona has one ranked doubles team as Marks and junior Claire Riestch team up to form the No. 76-ranked duo in the nation. The two have posted six doubles victories together. The Bears are out in front with a 46-10 all-time record against Arizona and have won the last ten meetings.

BOBUSIC NAMED PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Senior Bojana Bobusic was named the Pac-10's women's tennis player of the week for the week of March 16-22 as she emerged from play with a perfect record in all four of her matches. She became the third Cal player to win the honors this season as she helped the Bears to a 5-2 win over No. 42 Denver and a narrow 4-3 loss to No. 18-ranked Fresno State. Bobusic ran her singles record to 27-7 overall with a 13-1 mark in dual matches as she defeated Denver's Ute Schnoy at No. 3 singles, 6-2, 6-2. She then took out Fresno State's Tinesta Rowe at No. 4 singles, 7-6(4), 4-6, 7-5 for her eighth straight singles victory. In doubles play, she teamed up with freshman Jana Juricova for just their fifth and sixth matches together (first since the fall) and got two big wins to help Cal win the doubles point for the 10th time this year. The duo claimed an 8-2 win over Julia Bauregger and Mallory Voelker of Denver on the top court in their first match. Then in their second match, they fought out an 8-5 win over top-ranked Renata Kucerkova and Anastasia Petukhova of Fresno State. This was Bobusic's first such honor and the ninth all-time for the Cal women.

INDOOR HONORS: Senior Claire Ilcinkas and sophomore Mari Andersson were each named to the 2009 ITA National Team Indoor Championship All-Tournament Team. Andersson held the third-court position while Ilcinkas took fourth-court honors. The two each went 3-0 in singles matches at the annual team tournament and picked up two wins each with their doubles partners as the Bears advanced to the semifinal match for the first time since 2004. The pair was joined by four other singles players and three doubles teams on the all-tournament team. Representing the top court was Chelsey Gullickson of Georgia, who was also named the tournament's most outstanding player. Court two honors belonged to Duke's Ellah Nze. On court five, Georgia had Naoko Ueshima while Shannon Matthews of Notre Dame rounded out the singles players on court six. All three doubles teams came from Northwestern: Georgia Rose and Lauren Lui on the top court, Maria Mosolova and Keri Robison on court two and Samantha Murray and Elena Chernyakova on court three. Ilcinkas and Andersson became the first two Bears to receive all-tournament honors at the Indoor Championships.

CAL AT THE ITA INDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS: The Bears made their fourth consecutive appearance at the indoor championship and advanced to the semifinal for the first time since 2004. Cal has now won its opening match in seven of its last nine visits to Madison, Wis. for the annual tournament. The Bears rank sixth among all teams for most wins at the championship with 24 and are only one of 11 teams that can claim they have made it to the final of the championship, earning runner-up status in 2000. In the second year of its existence, senior Claire Ilcinkas and sophomore Mari Andersson earned honors on the Indoor Championship All-Tournament Team; Ilcinkas on the fourth singles court and Andersson on the third.

FALL 2008 REVIEW: The Bears were highly successful in fall individual tournaments in 2008. Senior Bojana Bobusic advanced to the Wilson/ITA Northwest Regional Singles Championship match and earned an automatic berth to the ITA National Indoor Championships along with All-Americans sophomore Marina Cossou and senior Claire Ilcinkas. Freshman Jana Juricova put her name on the map as she posted a team-best 17-2 overall singles record. She won the Saint Mary's Invitational singles title and the ASU Thunderbird Invitational singles title and joined forces with Rachael Dillon to win the doubles championship at the Saint Mary's Invitational as well. Senior Marion Ravelojaona returned from a leg injury a year ago to claim the Cal Nike Invitational Blue Flight singles championship in the early fall.

JENSEN RETURNS TO BERKELEY: A four-time All-American selection and two-time All-Conference selection while at Cal, Denver head coach Amy Jensen returned to face her alma mater as a head coach for the first time when the Denver Pioneers invaded Hellman Tennis Complex on March 19. The Bears emerged with a 5-2 victory. Jensen won the 1998 and 1999 NCAA doubles championship with Cal head coach Amanda Augustus and retained the title one more year as she won the 2000 crown with Claire Curran. Jensen served as Cal's assistant and associate head coach from 2001-2006 under the guidance of Jan Brogan. In her second season as head coach of the Pioneers, Jensen guided Denver to its finest season in school history with a 23-3 record, Sun Belt Conference championship and NCAA Tournament appearance. In 2007, Jensen led the Pioneers to a 14-9 record and third place finish at the Sun Belt Conference championship. While at Cal, she posted a career record of 105-52 in singles and a remarkable 94-29 record in doubles. She had a career high singles ranking of No. 9 and finished with a national doubles ranking of No. 2 for three consecutive years. Jensen graduated from Cal in May 2002 with a pre-med degree in integrative biology.

HEAD COACH Amanda Augustus: In just her first season at the helm for the Golden Bears, head coach Amanda Augustus led Cal to a program-best finish as the NCAA championship runner up in 2008. Augustus recorded a 21-6 overall record and helped Cal to a third place finish in the Pac-10 with a 6-2 conference mark. The Bears completed the season with the No. 3 ranking, which was also the highest finish in Cal history. In just two seasons as a collegiate head coach, Augustus has solidified a 50-18 (.735) overall record and proven that her squads will be ones to be reckoned with, producing four ITA All-American selections in her first season at Cal and pushing the Bears to heights not reached before. As a player, Augustus earned All-American honors six times (twice for doubles, four times for singles) and All-Pac-10 honors in each of her four years. She teamed with Amy Jensen to capture the NCAA title in both 1998 and 1999 and became the first tandem to win back-to-back doubles championships.

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