Every now and then I run across some good articles so I decided to create a thread for them. We begin with USC's 2008 Outlook.
2008 USC Women's Tennis Outlook
No. 8 Women of Troy open dual match season today against LMU at 1:30 p.m.
Jan. 16, 2008
In a dozen years at USC, head coach Richard Gallien has seen his share of talent pass through the courts of Troy.
A consistent flow of winners has propelled the Women of Troy to nine straight appearances at the NCAA Championships and four straight second-place finishes in Pac-10 action. Last season, the USC women's tennis team posted a 19-5 overall record and reached the NCAA Championships Round of 16. This year, the Trojans are ranked No. 8 nationally in the ITA preseason rankings.
Headlining the recent successes of the Women of Troy has been Lindsey Nelson. The 2007 Pac-10 singles champion 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 yet, lack of experience is the farthest thing from Gallien's mind.
Not when you have two ITA National Rookies of the Year playing just behind your three-time All-American.
Now a junior, 2006 Rookie of the Year Amanda Fink is back for more. And fresh off claiming the 2007 Rookie of the Year award, Sarah Fansler returns for her sophomore season.
"Lindsey firing on all cylinders puts a lot of pressure on other teams," Gallien said of his decorated No. 1 singles star. "I feel that Lindsey is extremely committed to making this last season of hers a big one not just for herself but more for her team.
That's crucial for us. And I know that Sarah and Amanda would say the same thing."
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.
"Sarah is very gritty and has a great deal of heart and very good skills," Gallien said of Fansler. "And Amanda is poised to have a marvelous year. Mentally, she's one of our toughest kids in singles and doubles."
Granted, the Trojans did lose a strong set of seniors to graduation in 2007. Anca Anastasiu, Judy DeVera and Dianne Matias served crucial roles on the USC ladder during their Trojan careers. Their reliability on singles and doubles will be missed, but Gallien remains excited about the incoming talent he has lined up for the 2008 campaign.
"Change is inevtiable in coaching college," Gallien said. "You're sad to see kids go, but you're super excited to see new kids come in. I think the fact that we have five new players and we're preseason eighth in the country really shows what those new players are thought of."
Due to NCAA rules, Gabriela Niculescu sat out her first year at Troy. She's good to go for 2008, however, and stands to be a powerful addition to the USC singles and doubles games. Niculescu and Fink already teamed up in doubles action, claiming the ITA West Regional doubles championship in the fall. And Niculescu wields an impressive singles game as well. Adding further depth to the USC roster is Amber Harper, who enters her third season with the Women of Troy.
"Gaby is a great competitor," Gallien said of Niculescu. "She is totally built for the college game, with her enthusiasm and flair and the fact that she's a very gifted player."
The newest Trojans to hit the courts are a group of four fresh faces. Coming in as freshmen at Troy are Cristala Andrews, Leyla Entekhabi, Lyndsay Kinstler and Maria Sanchez.
"They've all had a great deal of success as juniors," Gallien said of his freshmen. "Maria is a stud, Cristie is tough, and Lyndsay and Leyla are both really, really good. The team will definitely benefit from the amount of depth and a great deal of competition."
In order to stretch USC'sc 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.
"We have a lot of firepower, more firepower than we've ever had before," Gallien said. "We're the type of team that if we can get to NCAA healthy and hot and confident, we have enough juice to get the job done."
Jan 17th, 2008, 07:58 PM
A Stanford Outlook article.
Card going for title
No. 2 women ready to begin dual match play
January 16, 2008
By Anthony Nguyen
Ten players. Four months. One national title to reclaim.
The Stanford women’s tennis team is set to begin its season of dual match play next week. The Card will compete in both singles and doubles games in the upcoming matches and is looking to reclaim the NCAA title after it was upset last year.
With the individual season under its belt, the No. 2 Stanford women’s tennis team will soon begin dual match play, “the most exciting time of year for us,” according to junior Megan Doheny.
But what exactly is dual match play?
Most of us are familiar with the fall season, filled with individual tournaments and a lot of personal victories — much like the pros.
But this is college tennis, and a lot more intense.
Forget individual accolades and titles. At this point, the players have fully shaken their off-season rust and are now playing at their top levels with their team’s record on the line.
Perhaps head coach Lele Forood most accurately described dual match play.
“The dual season obviously is the most important part of what we do even though we do both during the year,” Forood said. “The intensity picks up clearly in the dual season. Everyone gets themselves ready and is more prepared for the dual season.”
The dual match system pits entire teams against each other, testing the depth and talent of each.
“You need a lot of players, you really do,” Forood said. “Depth is very important because we play a lot of matches and we play in this weather in the low 50’s here and we’ve got a lot of matches starting in late January. Because of injuries and schedule, you need a lot of players ready to play.”
There are six singles matches that play best of three sets. Each singles victory earns one point for the team.
Leading the way for the Cardinal women are junior Jessica Nguyen (No. 21 in the nation), sophomore Lindsay Burdette (No. 39) and freshman Carolyn McVeigh (No. 58).
Absent from the rankings this year is senior Celia Durkin, who, just a year ago, received All-American and All-Pac-10 Second Team honors.
Durkin, who battled injuries throughout the fall season, has since recovered and is primed to regain her form just in time.
She is joined by fellow seniors Lejla Hodzic and Whitney Deason, who captured doubles and singles titles at last weekend’s Freeman Championships.
The great equalizer of the dual match system is the doubles game. Three doubles teams each play a superset, and the team with two doubles wins gets the final team point.
First team to four points wins — it’s that simple.
Though no Stanford duo cracked the top 50 in the January rankings, doubles appears to be the Cardinal’s strong point.
At the Freeman Championships, Deason and Nguyen took home the flight one title, while Hodzic and freshman Jennifer Yen took the flight two crown.
Looking at the season, here are some notable dates and match-ups on Stanford’s schedule:
— 1/25/08: UC-Davis. The Cardinal women begin their season at home against the Aggies. “Obviously in the early part of the season, Davis is a nice little warm-up match,” Forood said.
— 1/31/08: Fresno State. The No. 14 Bulldogs will be the Card’s first real test in the early season at home. “Fresno state is a really tough match and we have them second,” Forood said. “That’s a huge match in the early part of the season.”
— 2/07/08: National Team Indoors. In a month’s time, the best teams in the nation will convene in Madison, Wisc., to duke it out for the top spot in the rankings. Last year, Stanford’s 89-game win streak was broken by eventual national champion, Georgia Tech, at the Indoors. “All the top teams are going to be at the Indoors except for No. 4 Florida, so it’s clearly just a brutal draw,” Forood said. “It’s four days of intense and tough matches. We’ll probably get to play a lot of teams that we won’t get to see on our schedule.”
— 2/20/08: California. Stanford opens up Pacific-10 Conference play at No. 6 California. Leading the Golden Bears is former NCAA Champion Susie Babos. “She’s finally a senior, a very, very tough player who has really played well against us,” Forood said of Babos. “It’s going to be a big match. It’s tough up there, especially during the winter. It could be cold, windy, but it’s up to us to be ready to play up there.”
— 2/29/08 and 3/01/08: UCLA and USC. These two late February games are lumped together in a “very important road trip” as Forood put it. With the Bruins ranked No. 3 behind Stanford and USC at No. 8, the weekend trip to L.A. will probably define the Cardinal’s season. “Well basically, UCLA is the same team plus they’ve added another player to last year’s runner up team,” Forood said. “They’re very talented and they’re extremely good in doubles. They’re going to be a great test. USC is no easy team either. Their No. 3 or No. 4 player from last year, Fink, won last week’s tournament at Las Vegas. That just shows how much depth they have on their squad.”
At the end of April, the Card will host Cal, UCLA and USC in a final tune-up before Pac-10 Championships and NCAAs. “It’s a long drawn out affair, and we’ll know a little more about ourselves after the Indoors,” Forood said. “We’ll get into conference play and, by April, you’ve seen everybody and you’re playing the same teams.”
— 5/9/08: NCAA Tournament. The Cardinal will set out to win its fourth title in five years. Last year, the Card fell in the semifinal game to UCLA.
When asked what date she has marked on her calendar, Durkin replied, “the date of the finals of NCAAs.”
That’s how much Stanford wants to reclaim the title.
Fortunately, the Cardinal women have learned from last year’s dual match losses.
“I think that there’s something a little bit unreal going years and years without taking a dual loss,” Forood said. “Quite frankly, you don’t know how painful it is until you lose. I think we have that perspective, and we understand that we don’t like losing too much.”
With experience on their side and a desire for vengeance, the Stanford women’s tennis team is a force to be reckoned with.
“It’s a long season and we don’t like to lose, let’s put it that way,” Forood quipped.
Jan 17th, 2008, 08:02 PM
One more from UCLA.
After a miss, this team’s on the upswing
Bruins return from last year’s championship loss with new talent and team-driven motivation
Ajaybir Behniwal, Bruin Sports senior staff (Contact)
Published: Thursday, January 17, 2008
At first glance, it would seem that not much has changed from last January for the UCLA women’s tennis team, with the exception of a new addition to the roster. But after watching even a few minutes of practice, a new sense of confidence and ambition gleams from the courts of the Los Angeles Tennis Center.
It comes as no surprise though, considering that the Bruins are coming off one of their most impressive seasons in the last few years, during which they reached the NCAA Championships before narrowly losing to Georgia Tech.
“A lot of times people dream about being in those situations,” UCLA coach Stella Sampras Webster said. “Having that experience, everyone’s motivated because they know that we’re good and that this team has potential to do it again and hopefully win it this time.”
The talent of the team from last season has the additional boost of freshman Andrea Remynse, who was regarded as one of the best recruits of her class and has had a wealth of experience at the junior level.
For Remynse, the adjustment to the college atmosphere and dual-match format with a focus on the team concept rather than individual results has been facilitated with assistance from her peers.
“Sometimes it takes me a little while to notice something that might be more obvious to them, but I’m definitely learning a lot,” she said.
Moreover, the Bruins return Alex McGoodwin. McGoodwin was expected to graduate at the end of last year, but a change in NCAA rules allowed her to petition for a medical redshirt in her freshman season.
“Having Alex on our team helps us so much with doubles and with singles,” Sampras Webster said. “It’s huge for the leadership of our team.”
Now, rather than having just three seniors – Tracy Lin, Elizabeth Lumpkin, and Riza Zalameda – the Bruins will have also have a fourth leader, which Sampras Webster says adds a new dimension to practice.
Sampras Webster expects her older players to push both themselves and their teammates to reach this season’s ultimate goal of a national championship.
“A lot of times you worry about seniors getting senioritis and being over it, but these seniors aren’t,” the 12th-year coach said. “These seniors want to finish out their career with a bang and win a national championship.”
It’s not just the seniors who desire the title, however. Last year’s shortcoming has fueled a fire for every member of the team.
Sophomore Yasmin Schnack, who is coming off a breakout freshman season in which she went undefeated in singles play at the No. 3 singles position looks to repeat the success of her first year in Westwood, regardless of where she winds up in the lineup.
Fellow sophomore Stephanie Wetmore feels that the runner-up finish of 2007 has very little meaning and effect on this year, as the Bruins will have to work just as hard as last season to reach the top of the women’s college tennis world.
“This year we’re going to have to start from scratch again,” Wetmore said. “I don’t think last year is any indication of what’s going to happen this year. We’re going to have to work even harder because this year is going to be just as hard if not harder.”
And the Bruins have begun to do just that, creating an intense atmosphere in practices, and pushing one another to the limits.
The cut-throat practices have had an impact on Remynse, who says she has never been around a group of girls who are as motivated and fiery.
“They’re so hungry, and it’s great because practice is so intense everyday, and everyone on this team is just so competitive and it’s awesome to have that kind of drive and hunger,” Remynse said.
Not only will practices be intense for the Bruins, but so will conference play in the Pac-10.
Last season, the Pac-10 sent three teams to the semifinals of the NCAA Championships – California, Stanford, and UCLA – and the conference will be just as strong, if not stronger, this year.
But Sampras Webster has stressed to her players that they are capable of winning every match. That is her expectation of even Pac-10 matches, and her players reflect that confidence.
“There are a lot of new players in the Pac-10, but I still feel like we’ll be the best team in the Pac-10,” junior Ashley Joelson said.
For now, the Bruins are looking forward to taking the courts on Monday – when they face off against Cal Poly in the first dual-match of the season – and using every match from that point on as a building block, and as preparation for the NCAA Championships.
“We want to go into the season from the first match on, and expect to win every match to help prepare us to be our very best in May,” Sampras Webster said.
Jan 19th, 2008, 09:30 AM
great read...thx for posting!
Jan 19th, 2008, 05:51 PM
Loved reading all of those! Thanks for posting!
Jan 22nd, 2008, 07:54 PM
Is Burdette a bitch? She makes a dig at Lindsey Nelson and then goes after Riza Zalameda. I don't understand what Burdette is referring to in Riza only winning one singles match at NCAA's. Does she mean in team play last year? Also, Riza reached the NCAA quarterfinals of the singles draw in 2006 and the semifinals in 2005. So I don't get it? What do you think is Burdette a bitch or just misinformed/jealous? I mean she did get beaten in the doubles final by Riza too. When I read this article, I got the bitchy feeling.
Women finish preseason at NCTC
Freshman McVeigh leads Cardinal effort
January 22, 2008
By Anthony Nguyen
The No. 2 Stanford women’s tennis team would have notched another tournament sweep this weekend, had it not been for UCLA’s Riza Zalameda.
The Stanford women played in their last preseason tournament last week and are set to start dual match play with Davis this weekend.
At the National Collegiate Tennis Classic (NCTC) in Indian Wells, Calif., freshman Carolyn McVeigh repeatedly upset some of the nation’s top players in her Cinderella run to the finals.
Sophomore Lindsay Burdette, who also competed at the NCTC, lauded her teammate’s effort.
“I watched basically every single one of her matches and they were unbelievable,” Burdette said.
In the opening day of play, McVeigh easily dispatched two Los Angeles opponents: UCLA’s Elizabeth Lumpkin and Sarah Fansler of Southern California.
The next day, McVeigh came out strong against two top opponents. She upset the tournament’s first seed, Maya Johansson of Georgia Tech 6-4, 6-2, and then defeated USC’s No. 1 player, Lindsay Nelson 6-2, 6-2.
“She didn’t know what to do,” Burdette said of Nelson. “Nelson called out trainers and was pressuring Carolyn’s calls, but Carolyn just took it to her.”
On the final day, McVeigh fell in the championship match 6-2, 6-3 to UCLA’s Zalameda.
“The last day, after playing two matches on Saturday, Carolyn was a tiny bit tired,” Burdette said. “But Zalameda played unbelievabl[y]. Carolyn had an awesome tournament.”
Zalameda, a seasoned junior and UCLA’s No. 1 singles player, is ranked 25th in the latest ITA polls. McVeigh, in her first collegiate season, is ranked 58th.
“Zalameda is a very talented and experienced player,” Burdette said. “She’s played pro tournaments since she was really young, but when it comes to pressure situations, she doesn’t quite do as well. In NCAAs she only won one singles match, but she’s still a very good player.”
Zalameda defeated Burdette 7-5, 6-2 in the quarterfinals en route to the championship. Despite her early exit, Burdette is pleased with her game so far.
“I definitely didn’t go as far as I would have liked,” she said. “But I got some awesome matches and I feel like my strokes and ball striking are right where I want [them] to be at this point before we begin the season. With more matches, the rest of it will come.”
McVeigh and Burdette also teamed up in doubles, and advanced to the semifinals.
They were again met by Zalameda, playing with Tracy Lin of UCLA. The Bruins prevailed in an 8-6 decision.
“The match that we did play ended up being a really good match,” Burdette said. “We had a ton of chances and we definitely could have won. I felt it was the first match [where] Carolyn and I really meshed, figuring out which balls go to whom. We worked really well together.”
Zalameda and Lin would eventually win the doubles championships along with Zalameda’s singles title.
Overall, the NCTC proved to be another learning experience for the Cardinal squad.
“The tournament was really positive, especially for the team, because we proved that even our youngest members on the team can compete with the best,” Burdette said.
This Friday, Stanford will open up dual match play against UC Davis at home. After a long fall season, the Cardinal women are geared up for the challenge.
“We’re all raring and ready to go,” Burdette said. “We’re so ready to get out there and work, starting with Davis. There’s nothing like dual matches in tennis.”
Jan 23rd, 2008, 12:28 AM
Gosh, I like Lindsay, but she's taking some low blows. Lindsey Nelson hasn't played much singles at all recently because of injuries and Zalameda, while admittedly not in her best form at NCAA's last year, has accomplished a hell of a lot more than Burdette so far. She needs to watch what she says, or she'll make a lot of enemies.
What a result for McVeigh, though. She could be a real talent for Stanford.
Jan 24th, 2008, 09:15 PM
Gosh, I like Lindsay, but she's taking some low blows. Lindsey Nelson hasn't played much singles at all recently because of injuries and Zalameda, while admittedly not in her best form at NCAA's last year, has accomplished a hell of a lot more than Burdette so far. She needs to watch what she says, or she'll make a lot of enemies.
What a result for McVeigh, though. She could be a real talent for Stanford.
I'm just surprised that she even gave these types of comments. Usually most athletes are very complimentary or at least politically correct. Too bad we won't have any face-offs between Zalameda and Burdette in the dual season.
Feb 12th, 2008, 10:35 AM
After Burdette's comments, it's kind of justice to see her lose the final match for Stanford against Georgia Tech. Oh yeah and she went 0-3 at the No. 1 spot during the Indoors.
Tennis out in ITA semis
Cardinal women lose 4-3 decision to tournament champion Georgia Tech
February 12, 2008
By Anthony Nguyen
Frustration and disappointment.
Those two words could sum up the No. 1 Stanford women’s tennis team’s exit in the semifinals of the 2008 National Team Indoors, as the team team ended its tourney bid with a 4-3 loss to No. 4 Georgia Tech.
The Cardinal entered the Indoors in Madison, Wisc., as the top team in the nation and the first seed in the draw. Stanford lived up to its ranking in strong wins against No. 11 Baylor and No. 9 University of Miami (Fla.) in the early rounds.
“We played the No. 11 team in the country in the first round, which was probably the toughest first round we’ve ever had to deal with there,” head coach Lele Forood said. “We had a nice win over Baylor who has three players in the top-25. Then we had Miami, which was a good test.”
Then came the Yellow Jackets, the defending NCAA champions.
In last year’s Championships, the Cardinal had its 89-game win streak — spanning three national titles — broken by Georgia Tech in the semifinal round.
“Last year, they shocked us,” Forood said. “We didn’t really think about Georgia Tech last year. They certainly weren’t on our radar so it was more of a stunning loss.”
Intent on not letting history repeat itself, the Cardinal jumped to an early lead in Saturday’s dual match against the Yellow Jackets.
In doubles, sophomore Lindsay Burdette and freshman Hilary Barte defeated Kristi Miller and Kirsten Flower, 8-5. Senior Whitney Deason and junior Jessica Nguyen also prevailed 8-5, over Whitney McCray and Amanda McDowell, to capture the doubles point.
As a positive note on the weekend, Stanford won the doubles point in all three of its matches at the Indoors.
“We were very unsure about what we were doing with the doubles a couple weeks ago,” Forood said. “But we finally found these teams playing at the Indoors, and we decided, ‘Wow, we like what we see now.’ For the moment, we’re going with the teams we have, and I’m pretty happy with winning these doubles points.”
With a 1-0 lead in the match, Barte quickly dispatched McCray 6-1, 7-5 at the No. 3 spot, earning the Cardinal another point. Senior Celia Durkin quickly followed with a 7-5, 6-1 victory over Christy Striplin for a commanding 3-0 Stanford lead.
One more point — that’s all that was needed to send the Cardinal into the final round, and to vanquish any demons left from last year’s forgettable tournament.
Unfortunately, vengeance will have to wait.
With their backs against the wall, the Yellow Jackets mounted an inspired comeback to upset top-seeded Stanford.
The Cardinal collapse began with freshman Carolyn McVeigh’s 6-2, 6-3 loss to Noelle Hickey at the No. 6 spot.
McDowell followed with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 victory over Nguyen, pulling the Yellow Jackets even closer, although the Card still held the lead.
When Flower defeated Deason 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 at No. 5, Stanford had lost its edge on the match. The teams were now tied.
With the match on the line, Miller clinched the match with a 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-3 victory over Burdette at the No. 1 spot.
Game. Set. Match.
“We did what we wanted to do coming out,” Forood said. “We won the doubles point and got two quick wins, and then we got unlucky with an injury to Jessica [Nguyen]. We just couldn’t get the third set out of three different matches.”
Georgia Tech would go on to defeat No. 3 Northwestern in the finals, avenging a dual-match loss less than a week ago.
“The fact is that they won the match, and you have to argue that they were better than us,” Forood said. “But we’re certainly right on the doorstep with them.”
If the defeat seemed all too familiar, perhaps it was.
Last year, Georgia Tech upset Stanford 4-3, also in the semifinals of the National Team Indoors. The Yellow Jackets would eventually go on to capture the NCAA title.
Georgia Tech is one of only two teams to defeat Stanford in the last five years. It is also the only team to have done so twice during that span.
“This year, we certainly knew they were good, and we knew what was coming,” Forood said. “The fact that we were awfully close does make it quite upsetting.”
Despite its long weekend, the Cardinal knows its season is far from over.
“Our team was frustrated that we couldn’t win one more set and come away with the win,” Forood said. “That’s not necessarily a bad thing this time of year. We have to work hard with tough matches later this month at L.A., Washington and Cal.
“We have plenty of chances to prove ourselves.”
Feb 13th, 2008, 01:35 AM
This was a great idea for a forum!
Feb 21st, 2008, 02:52 AM
Pre-cursor of the upset.
Team of Seniors Plays Its Final Card at Home
BY JIMMY TRAN
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
The energy is at a season high for the No. 9 Cal women's tennis team, especially for the five seniors, because at 1:30 p.m. today, they will take on No. 3 Stanford at Hellman Tennis Center for the last time.
For one senior, though, this match is for viewing purposes only. Marion Ravelojaona, a key member of the team her first three years here, has been sidelined since the fall with a knee injury and will not be able to compete in this Pac-10 play opener.
"It's frustrating, but I will be cheering for the girls," Ravelojaona said. "I think for this match the energy will be there just because it's Stanford and half of the team are seniors and this will be the last time (at home)."
The coaching staff, not wanting to rush the senior's return, has not set a timetable for her recovery.
"It can be disappointing if we do that, because what if I'm not healthy by that date?" Ravelojaona said. "We're doing objectives for each week and setting shorter goals."
Three of the other four seniors will be in action, though, as Susie Babos and Stephanie Kusano will be competing in both singles and doubles, while Cristina Visico will be in the singles lineup. Daron Moore, the final senior, has not broken into the lineup yet this season.
All five of these players know that the Bears have not defeated the Cardinal since they started playing for the team and believe that last year's effort-a narrow 4-3 loss-shows that they are fully capable of winning today.
"Last time we played them, it was really close," Babos said. "Having so many returning seniors this year from last year's match and knowing this will be a last shot at them on our courts, it gives us a lot of extra motivation."
First-year Cal coach Amanda Augustus recalls last year's duel but is more concerned with this year's rosters for both teams. She also pointed out that Stanford did not have a dominating performance two weekends ago at the ITA National Women's Team Indoor Championships. The Cardinal were knocked out by eventual champion Georgia Tech in the semifinals.
Still, the Bears are more concerned with their own play and are happy to be coming off a 7-0 win over UC Davis this past Saturday. The match featured the team's first doubles-point win this season and it could not have come at a better time, as Augustus believes that doubles play will be a key to victory.
"To win four singles is accomplishable but more of a challenge," Augustus said. "I think this team knows they're right there with Stanford. Even though they're ahead in the rankings, they don't feel there's that a big of a gap."
Several players agreed with their coach on the importance of taking the doubles point and have pushed themselves during doubles drills at practice.
"They're pretty sound from one to six and I'm not saying that we aren't capable of wining each single match, but it takes a little pressure off of each person," Visico said.
As of today, the three doubles teams will consist of Babos and Kusano on court No. 1, freshman Marina Cossou and Claire Ilcinkas on the second court, and finally Bojana Bobusic and Rachael Dillon on the third court.
All three teams captured a victory in last weekend's match after struggling at the Indoor Championships a couple weeks ago.
Ilcinkas believes it is the renewed aggressiveness of the team that ignited the solid play.
"We were coming into the net and were able to control the match," she said.
Feb 21st, 2008, 10:36 AM
I wish Lindsay would have trash talked some more. Let's see what she says post-match.
Tennis begins road trip with rival Cal
February 20, 2008
By Anthony Nguyen
With heavy thunderstorms moving into the Bay Area, it appears as though everything is in place for the 66th match-up between the No. 2 Stanford women’s tennis team and its archrival, No. 9 California.
Last April, Stanford prevailed in a 4-3 decision over Cal to take the Pac-10 title despite multiple rain delays and a change of venue.
As history has shown, playing at Cal is always a difficult task, according to head coach Lele Forood.
“It can be a little tough with the rain, wind, moisture and cool air,” Forood said. “When you’re outside in February, you have to prepare for anything. Most of us are veterans so we know to layer up with clothing and prepare for all kinds of weather conditions.”
From the all-time records, there doesn’t appear to be any rivalry with Cal though — Stanford is 58-7 overall against its Pac-10 rivals and winners of the last 12 outings.
But if there’s one thing driving the Cardinal to victory this year, it’s that Forood doesn’t like losing to Cal.
“There’s definitely a rivalry between us,” sophomore Lindsay Burdette said. “The main source comes from Lele, who loves beating up on Cal. It comes out in her a little bit more because she likes to coach physically for this team and for the individual players.”
When asked about the rivalry, however, Forood downplayed the match-up.
“I don’t want to take it over the top or anything,” Forood said. “It’s a fun rivalry. Generally, we’ve gotten along pretty well, but of course we want to win.”
The match signifies the start to Pac-10 play in a difficult stretch of three matches in four days, and five straight road matches which includes trips to Washington and Los Angeles.
“It’s a really tough stretch, probably the roughest one of our schedule,” Forood said. “It’s a critical part of our season no doubt about it. It’s really tough that we have to go on the road for five straight matches of tough competition.
“That’s the way it is and we’ve just got to do the best we can do and hopefully come out 5-0,” she added.
Stanford’s road trip starts with Cal, which is certainly no easy opponent.
“Cal is a scrappy team, very talented and tough,” Burdette said. “They’re a mixed crowd with foreign and American players so it’s a very interesting crew. Each person plays very differently, so we’ve been preparing for individual players a lot this last week.
“We’re gearing up for this almost like it is [the National Team] Indoors,” she said.
Stanford is currently 4-1 on the season, its only loss coming to No. 1 Georgia Tech at last week’s ITA National Team Indoors. The Cardinal is coming off a 6-1 victory against St. Mary’s at home, the team’s 98th consecutive home win.
Cal is 3-2 on the season, suffering shutout losses at the Indoors to Northwestern and Miami. The Golden Bears are led by 2005 NCAA Singles Champion Susie Babos.
The Cardinal will counter with junior Jessica Nguyen who leads the team with 13 singles victories.
Stanford’s doubles teams have been impeccable as well. They have yet to drop the doubles point this season, highlighted by the team of Nguyen and senior Whitney Deason who are 9-0 overall and 5-0 in dual match play.
So it may be just another Stanford-Cal matchup, but the implications are so much more for the Cardinal’s long season.
“Basically we look forward to playing a good Cal team tomorrow,” Forood said. “It’ll be a challenge no matter what and they’re obviously a talented team so we hope for the best tomorrow.”
Feb 22nd, 2008, 04:21 AM
I guess Lindsay wasn't available for comment. I don't expect Cal to beat Stanford 6-1 when they meet again at Stanford. It'll be interesting to see what Stanford does with their line-up because clearly Lindsay is not their No. 1 player.
Bears upset No. 3 Cardinal
February 21, 2008
By Anthony Nguyen
The No. 3 Stanford women’s tennis team wanted to send a message to the tennis world on Wednesday. Unfortunately, it was lost in translation along the way.
Looking for an auspicious start to Pacific-10 Conference play and to a tough five-game road trip, the Cardinal faltered in a big way after suffering a surprising 6-1 loss to archrival No. 11 California. Stanford had led the all-time series 58-7 and won the last 12 consecutive meetings with Cal coming into yesterday’s match-up.
Though the score itself says a lot, the match wasn’t as clear-cut as it may seem.
“We had our chances clearly,” Stanford coach Lele Forood said. “We started well in a bunch of those matches and they climbed their way back.”
Despite losing two matches at the Indoors last weekend, Cal refused to give up against Stanford.
“Their players play very consistent, long points and that’s not used in the Indoors,” Forood said. “They took their losses at indoors, but they’re certainly more comfortable outside, especially on their home court today.
“That made for a very different experience for them.”
On the day, Stanford lost three matches in three sets, including sophomore Lindsay Burdette at the number one spot. Serving for the match at 5-4 in the third set against 2005 NCAA singles champion Susie Babos, Burdette would soon fall 7-5 in the final frame.
At number four, senior Celia Durkin fell 6-3 in the third set. Freshman Carolyn McVeigh lost 6-7, 6-2, 6-2.
“We know who their players are for sure,” Forood said. “We knew that we were in for a tough match. I certainly don’t think we expected to lose to them 6-1, that’s for sure.”
In the match, Stanford definitely showed its youth and inexperience at times.
“We’re a young team,” Forood said. “We’re finding out that we have to finish matches a little better.”
Though downplayed by Forood, the Cardinal women also entered the match at a disadvantage with injuries.
“I don’t want to dwell on excuses, but we’ve had a lot of people injured and sick in the last couple weeks,” Forood said. “I don’t want to take the win from them, but it was definitely a factor and our preparation wasn’t what it could’ve been.
“We have to move on and play better,” she added.
Stanford will have its first chances to redeem itself on Friday against No. 43 Washington and Saturday against No. 44 Washington State.
Next weekend, the Cardinal will head down to Los Angeles for another tough stretch in its schedule.
“Going forward, we don’t have that luxury of time, playing in Washington this weekend and Los Angeles next weekend,” Forood said. “We have to find our form in a hurry. That’s what happens sometimes and we have to regroup in a big way and just be tougher.”
The Huskies are led by freshman Venice Chan, who was recently named Pac-10 Player of the Week. Washington is currently 8-1 on the season.
“They’ve got a good group and they’re always a tough match on their home court,” Forood said. “It’s going to be a very challenging next match. We have to be ready to go and play with a lot more intensity than today.”
With the season currently in full swing, the Cardinal has to find its form as soon as possible. If anything, the team must try to resend the message it had tried to send today.
“It was a very important day in our season today,” Forood said. “We have to show how we’re going to respond to it this weekend.”
Feb 22nd, 2008, 04:24 AM
Bears Convincing in Upset of Cardinal
No. 3 Stanford Poses No Match for No. 9 Cal in The Bay Area Rivals' Final Meeting of the Season
BY JIMMY TRAN
Thursday, February 21, 2008
With one doubles victory already in the books, seniors Susie Babos and Stephanie Kusano knew it was up to them to seal the doubles point and garner some momentum for the team heading into singles play.
Up 7-6 on Stanford's Hilary Barte and Lindsay Burdette with match point in the Bears' favor, Kusano traded volleys with Barte before powering one down to gave the team a 1-0 lead.
No. 9 Cal never looked back and lost only one singles match to earn a 6-1 upset over the No. 3 Cardinal.
Junior Bojana Bobusic, with the team up 3-1, clinched the win for the Bears with her 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 victory over Celia Durkin.
Bobusic had several match points that she let get away before finally ripping a shot down the line for the win.
"I kind of knew that we would win if I finished her off, but didn't really want to think about it," Bobusic said. "I was like 'Thank you' when I hit that winner down the line."
The shot for the win marked only the eighth time in 66 tries that the Bears have topped Stanford. It's the first victory since 2003.
"It's extremely exciting," Babos said. "I feel the second we came through the door for warm-ups you could just see the fire in everyone's eyes."
Other than the sheer motivation created by the rivalry, the fact that this was the last opportunity to play the Cardinal on their home court fueled the three competing seniors even more.
Babos, Kusano, and Cristina Visico were all winners in singles, while the pair of Babos and Kusano finally came through with a big victory after falling short against top ranked doubles teams recently.
"I think they really prepared for this match and allowed themselves to just compete," Cal coach Amanda Augustus said. "It could have been easy to put a lot of pressure on themselves being the last home match against Stanford, but they did a great job playing point by point and focusing on what they needed to do on their own court."
All Bears in competition took it match by match as the focus in each player was resonating throughout the Hellman Tennis Center.
It started with Claire Ilcinkas as she got the first singles victory with a 6-2, 6-2 sweep over Whitney Deason.
"Normally I would be aggressive and come in to the net, but that would have been exactly what she wanted, so I sliced my backhands, used drop shots, and eventually came to the net," Ilcinkas said.
After a setback with freshman Marina Cossou's loss to Jessica Nguyen, Cal got back on track and swept the remaining matches.
Three of the other four went three sets, and it was apparent that some of the players were a bit fatigued from the long day.
Visico, who matched up almost evenly with 5'5" Barte, struggled to finish off her match.
"I was just so tired, to be honest, I was expecting to finish the match," Visico said. "I was hanging on the back fence and felt like I was all over the place, but I knew if I just got these two points, I wouldn't be tired anymore."
The team has no room for rest as they head to Washington today for this weekend's tilts against both Washingston and Washington State.
"I think it sends a big notice to the rest of the teams that we're shooting to be in the top five," Augustus said. "It's week by week and this was the first test outdoors, so I'm happy to see them show a lot of heart and a lot of fight."
Feb 26th, 2008, 12:14 PM
Am I the only one that finds the bolded statement a bit unsettling? I've always had my suspicions about Stanford. Based on what Nguyen said, this doesn't sound like placing players in singles according to strength, which is determined by a team's ladder. The best player according to the team's ladder is suppose to be at the top, not who does best (usually they're the same but sometimes not) at the No. 1 spot. This is a different form of stacking where a weak player is put at the top (and presumably loses) so that everyone can play down a level. But it is stacking because players are not placed in their correct spot according to the ladder.
Stanford Bounces Back
February 26, 2008
By Anthony Nguyen
“It was the first day of our new season,” said junior Jessica Nguyen.
After a shocking loss to rival California, the No. 3 Stanford women’s tennis team had little time to recuperate amidst a four-day span of three road matches.
But, just after its stunning loss to Cal last week, Stanford showed the resilience of a veteran team as it swept the Washington schools this past weekend.
“After Cal, we had a tough day with a few injuries and sicknesses,” Nguyen said. “I think it’s really important to know that we came back on the road and performed well. Everyone played well, and we worked together as a team, just recovering from that loss and moving forward.”
In Seattle, the Cardinal earned its first shutout of the year against the No. 43 Huskies on Friday.
The next day, Stanford defeated No. 44 Washington State, 5-1, in Pullman, Wash. The team is currently 2-1 on its five-game road trip.
“We shuffled around the lineup a little bit,” Nguyen said. “I think we’re playing to the best of our ability in this transition we have. We’re adjusting and feeling who plays best at what position.”
Over the weekend, freshman Hilary Barte played and thrived at the number one spot, picking up wins against Pac-10 Player of the Week Venise Chan and Washington State’s lone ranked player, Ekaterina Burduli.
“As a freshman, it’s always difficult going from playing at an individual basis to having five other teammates on the court next to you,” Nguyen said. “She’s doing a really great job of adjusting, and she’ll only get better because she’s extremely talented. As a freshman, she’s doing very well.”
In doubles, Nguyen and senior Whitney Deason continued their tear at the number two spot. They are currently 14-5 on the year after picking up two more wins over the weekend.
“We’re just a solid team at the number two position,” Nguyen said. “We are steady performers, and if one person’s off a little bit, the other person will balance it out. We have a good balance and stability on the court as far as our games go.”
In singles, Nguyen also picked up two more wins for a team-leading 16 on the season. Nguyen played at the number three spot due to a lingering wrist injury suffered at the National Indoors.
“I’m feeling great on the court,” Nguyen said. “I played last weekend, with no left arm and just hitting backhand slices the entire time. It was a good confidence booster for me to know that I can play at the number two position with half of my game, basically.”
“I’m looking forward to this weekend with my wrist healed and being able to get back to my game, which I feel is really strong at this point,” Nguyen added.
Fortunately for the Cardinal, the road victories came just in time, with a road trip to Los Angeles looming on the horizon.
Next weekend, Stanford will head down to Southern California to face No. 7 UCLA and No. 12 USC.
“It’s great for us to be winning on the road, and it’s important for us right now coming off the few losses we’ve had,” Nguyen said. “It’ll only help us next weekend when we’re on the road. We’re always really excited to play them and beat up on them.”
For further incentive to win, the Los Angeles road trip will be a homecoming of sorts for many of the Cardinal women.
Barte, Nguyen, junior Megan Doheny and senior Celia Durkin are all originally from the area.
“We’re always excited to go down there and play people we know,” Nguyen said. “We always look forward to playing our huge L.A. rivals. It’ll be exciting for all of us and a great experience for our freshmen.”
Stanford plays at UCLA at 1:30 p.m. on Friday and at USC at noon on Saturday.
Feb 29th, 2008, 01:31 PM
Here's a short video interview with Leyla Entekhabi from USC, that I thought people might like.
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
BY JIMMY TRAN
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."
Mar 4th, 2008, 01:07 PM
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?
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.
Mar 31st, 2008, 12:41 PM
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
By JIMMY TRAN
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."