The 2008 Season "Featured" Articles - Page 2 -
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post #16 of 19 (permalink) Old Feb 29th, 2008, 12:31 PM Thread Starter
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Re: The 2008 Season "Featured" Articles

Here's a short video interview with Leyla Entekhabi from USC, that I thought people might like.

And a short clip of Fink and Niculescu from USC playing doubles. Fink is in white and Gabby in red.
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post #17 of 19 (permalink) Old Mar 3rd, 2008, 09:57 AM Thread Starter
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Re: The 2008 Season "Featured" Articles

A few great insights about Cal's mental struggle with realizing it's not fourth fiddle as in the past (like I mentioned in the other thread).

Visico Pulls Away to Clinch Bears' Victory Over UCLA
Contributing Writer
Monday, March 3, 2008

Senior Cristina Visico tried not to stare at the scoreboard that hung right above her. But out of the corner of her eye she saw that teammate Susie Babos had just lost her singles match, and Visico realized that the match was now up to her.

On the road-in a stadium where the No. 8 Cal women's tennis team hadn't won since 2003-Visico tried her best to eliminate the pressure and just take care of business on the court.

With the score tied at 6-6 in the third set, the match against No. 27 Andrea Remynse went to a tiebreaker, where Visico took control and won 7-2, sealing the Bears' 4-3 win over No. 11 UCLA.

"I noticed Susie lost and I was like 'Oh shit,' but I've been in that position so many times, so I felt ready and prepared," Visico said.

It helped to have her teammates cheering on from the sidelines, fully confident in their teammate's ability to clinch the match.

"Cristina is such a great competitor," Cal coach Amanda Augustus said. "All her teammates have so much trust and respect in her as a competitor, so they knew they she was going to pull that match out."

The Bears lost the doubles point to begin the match, but came out energized in singles and got victories from Visico, Marina Cossou, Claire Ilcinkas, and Stephanie Kusano. The win took away the bitter sting from the 6-1 defeat that they had suffered just 24 hours before at the hands of No. 11 USC.

Although a few of the matches against the Trojans went three sets, many players felt a total lack of energy Friday and felt like a completely different team the second day.

"It was like there was a complete 180," Babos said. "We were playing for each other, because the day before we promised each other we would make each other proud and do all we possibly could to get a win."

On Friday, Cal came out strong against USC, taking two of the three doubles courts to win the point. But that would be the only point that the Bears would earn in the match as the Trojans rattled off six straight wins in singles play.

"Maybe it was the road, maybe we relaxed a bit after winning doubles, but we didn't start quick enough and USC, being the good team it is, rebounded really quickly," Augustus said. "It just wasn't a great start for anybody, and there were just a lot of unforced errors."

Augustus, who had been unaware of the team's previous struggles on the road until after the match, told her players Friday night to realize they were ranked higher than the two teams and that the past shouldn't have an effect on the present.

Afterwards, the team itself gathered for a few hours and talked about the adjustments that needed to be made for the next day.

"We talked about having heart and really wanting it," Visico said. "You can say it, but you have to really get out there and dig deep and take the risk of failing and play for the team."

Despite going 1-1 on the weekend, Cal felt confident on the plane ride back and may have broken through a mental roadblock.

"It's a crucial win on Saturday and will keep us on the right track," Augustus said. "I think we've established in the mind of the team and the competitors that we'll be one of the teams to beat come NCAA time."
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post #18 of 19 (permalink) Old Mar 4th, 2008, 12:07 PM Thread Starter
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Re: The 2008 Season "Featured" Articles

I know I've harped on the whole Stanford line-up thing a lot. But this new article really brings it out into the open. Examine the bolded part. If Burdette was playing good but losing close matches at No. 1 why would you boot her all the way to No. 3 behind an injured No. 2 Nguyen? Logically you would move Nguyen to No. 3 and Burdette to No. 2. Moving Burdette to No. 3, according to strength, means an injured Nguyen is better than a healthy Burdette. So then why in the world was she playing No. 1 to begin with? It's not just me is it?

Even without the whole Burdette switch, if you wanted Nguyen to play while injured wouldn't you want to place her at No. 3 instead of the more competitive No. 2?

Pac-ed In
Stanord, Cal, UCLA, USC stand atop Pac-10
March 4, 2008
By Anthony Nguyen

Who’s on top in the Pac-10?

After the No. 6 Stanford women’s tennis team, No. 8 California and Nos. 11 UCLA and Southern California all convened in Los Angeles over the weekend, we still haven’t a clue, and probably won’t until the final weeks of the season.

Each team finished the weekend with a 1-1 record. On the weekend, Stanford beat USC, USC beat Cal, Cal beat UCLA, and UCLA beat the Cardinal.

So, as that merry-go-round of results indicates, there is no clear leader in the Pac-10.

“I have no idea [who is the best] because, technically, those were our non-counters,” head coach Lele Forood said. “But right now it’s all over the place. It’s pretty crazy.”

The weekend proved to be a bittersweet homecoming for the Cardinal squad, which features four players from the area — freshman Hilary Barte, junior Megan Doheny, senior Celia Durkin and junior Jessica Nguyen.

On the bright side, Stanford finished a grueling five-game stretch away from the Farm which had the team traveling up and down the coast. Seven of their final 11 games will be at home, including rematches against Cal, UCLA and USC.

With the 4-3 loss to UCLA on Friday, the Cardinal lost its third game of the season; the team had not lost three games in a season since 1995 when it finished 23-3.

And Stanford has yet to reach the midpoint of its season.

“I’m not happy, and our team’s not happy,” Forood said of the losses. “We’re trying to find the formula a bit this year and get to a point where we can produce a little more consistently on each court, and that’s something we haven’t found yet.”

The Cardinal was able to salvage the weekend with a 4-3 victory over USC on Saturday, finishing 3-2 on the road trip.

“It was a tough-fought win at USC,” Forood said. “They had just drilled Cal the day before, and they were waiting for us. We needed a correction match, and while it wasn’t the way we wanted — we had match point at number five, as well, so it could have easily been 5-2 — we need to start getting it done on all courts.”

On the season, Stanford is 2-2 in matches decided by one-point, with wins against the University of Miami and USC and losses to Georgia Tech and UCLA.

Against the Bruins, Barte shined in an impressive 7-5, 6-1 upset of No. 10 Riza Zalameda for Stanford’s first point of the day.

However, with Stanford trailing 3-1, Nguyen fell 6-4, 6-3 to Tracy Lin to clinch the match for the Bruins.

Nguyen, who leads the team with 17 victories, is coming off a wrist injury at the Indoors, which prevented her from hitting a two-handed backhand last weekend in Washington.

“She’s hitting her two-hander, but she’s not at 100 percent yet,” Forood said of Nguyen. “I think when you’re not healthy, it could either hurt or be a distraction because you feel something every time you swing. An injury is always tough because you’re constantly aware of it.”

With the victory, UCLA has won two of its last three meetings against Stanford, including a 4-2 upset at last year’s NCAA semifinals.

The next day, Stanford took on the Trojans, looking to preserve a win streak spanning two decades — the team’s last loss to USC came on April 4, 1986.

Barte continued her dominance at the No. 1 spot with a 6-2, 7-6 (2) upset over Lindsey Nelson, who was the 2007 Pac-10 Singles Champion and Pac-10 Player of the Year.

With the doubles point and singles victories in the top three spots, Stanford took the match from USC.

Barte is now 12-5 on the season. She is currently on a four-game win streak, all at the team’s number one spot. The streak includes impressive victories against Washington’s Venise Chan and Washington State’s Ekaterina Burduli, as well as this weekend’s defeats of Zalameda and Nelson.

“She’s really stepped up,” Forood said. “We needed to change the lineup around a little bit because Lindsay [Burdette] was doing a good job, but she was just losing some close matches at one. [Barte] was next up because she was our most healthy player, and she did a great job.

She’s going to stay right there for a while, maybe all season.”

On the weekend, Durkin and freshman Carolyn McVeigh also shined in doubles with two victories at the No. 3 spot. They are currently on a four-match win streak and are now 7-2 on the season.

Though easier said than done, Forood knows what the Cardinal needs to improve.

“Well we have to win the doubles point, that’s the first thing,” Forood said. “That’s where part of our effort is right now — to start winning the doubles point again consistently. The second thing is finding the formula particularly for our lower lineup spots.”

The Cardinal is looking forward to being able to make those corrections in the friendly confines of Taube Tennis Center, rather than on the road.

The team will get a chance to do just that when it hosts William & Mary at 1:30 p.m. this afternoon in its first home match since Feb. 14.
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post #19 of 19 (permalink) Old Mar 31st, 2008, 11:41 AM Thread Starter
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Re: The 2008 Season "Featured" Articles

I think they forgot the quotes around clay courts, haha. But definitely good insight on the slowness of the ASU courts which could have contributed to Stanford's loss.

Cal Repeats Wins Over Arizona and Arizona State
Monday, March 31, 2008

Different location, different environment and different courts, but no matter because it was the same result for the No. 7 Cal women's tennis team this past weekend.

Having just defeated both Arizona and No. 15 Arizona State at home three weeks ago, the Bears (13-3, 4-0 in the Pac-10) traveled to the Southwest and came out with a 6-1 win over the Wildcats followed by a tough 5-2 victory over the Sun Devils. The scores were identical to the ones when Cal previously faced these two Pac-10 rivals.

"It was an important weekend for us and today especially was really a big stepping stone for us," coach Amanda Augustus said. "It's going to give us a huge confidence boost because ASU fought really hard. Every court was contested and everything was a battle."

The Bears knew going in about the severity of the contrast in the conditions of the venues, and adjusted its play for the matches.

"The courts are slower so it's more of an advantage for them, whereas at home we can hit it off the court easier and be more aggressive," Augustus said about ASU's clay courts. "It came down to more patience. Ordinarily you win a point in five or six balls at home and there it's more of an average of nine to 10."

In addition to the different surfaces and an extremely opposing crowd in the stands, Cal had to deal with 85 degree weather that has been rare to find in the Bay Area as of late.

"The heat is something we're not used to, and I was pleased to see our fitness level was where it needed to be, because there was no question whether we could stay out there long enough to get the wins," Augustus said.

On Friday against Arizona, the Bears came out strong and only dropped three sets the whole match. Two of them came in the team's only loss of the day-No. 16 Marina Cossou's 6-4, 0-6, 6-3 defeat to No. 55 Danielle Steinberg. The freshman rebounded the next day, though, and clinched the match for Cal with her 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 victory over Nadia Abdala.

The clash against the Sun Devils was more tightly contested and many matches were decided with tiebreakers or in the third set.

"These teams are tough and fought hard," senior Stephanie Kusano said. "It gives us confidence to know we can play in their element and beat them and shows how tough we are. We can put that in our reserves and when things get tough in the future we can draw on it and persevere through those hard times."

Saturday's win over the Sun Devils was the seventh victory in a row for the Bears and its 11th of the past 12 matches. The streak's momentum has translated into a sense of confidence that may bolster the team's chances at this year's NCAA championships.

"At the beginning we set the goal to win NCAAs, and we weren't sure if it was attainable, but we've worked really hard and at this point we're really solid," senior Cristina Visico said. "I definitely believe it. Our lineup is strong from one down to six and I feel like it is very attainable if we just believe in it."
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