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post #17 of (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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