No. 7 USC Women Hold Strong, Edge No. 8 Cal 4-3|
April 13, 2007
LOS ANGELES, CALIF. - The No. 7 USC women's tennis team pocketed a big Pac-10 win on Friday afternoon, winning in a marathon match clinched by No. 10 Lindsey Nelson. The junior helped the Trojans avenge an early-season loss to California when she upset the defending NCAA Singles Champion, Susie Babos, to pull out a comeback 4-3 victory for the Women of Troy over the visiting No. 8 Bears. USC improves to 17-2 overall and 6-0 in Pac-10 action with its 12 straight win. USC now turns to face the nation's top-ranked team, Stanford, in a 12 p.m. match on Saturday (April 14) at Marks Stadium.
In a rematch of the 2006 NCAA Singles Championship, Lindsey Nelson was able to upend the nation's No. 2-ranked player after a ferocious comeback by the Trojan junior. Babos had beaten Nelson less than a year ago to claim the NCAA singles crown with a two-set win in the NCAA final. This time, Nelson refused to let Babos put her away. After falling in a tiebreaker in the first set, Nelson got behind 2-5 in the second set - just a single game from a loss for the Trojan. Instead, Nelson turned the tables on Babos by three breaks to win five straight games and steal away the second set, forcing a third. With the match hanging in the balance at 3-3 and all eyes on the No. 1 match, Nelson took control in the third and capped off the day with an ace to lock away a big win for herself and an important victory for the Women of Troy with her 6-7 (4), 7-5, 6-1 victory.
The double point was an all-out battle. After #43 Sarah Fansler / Dianne Matias secured the first win with one last break to notch an 8-3 win for the Trojans, the No. 1 and No. 2 matches raged on. Cal came back to tie 6-6 in both matches. At No. 2, #53 Judy DeVera / Amanda Fink fought back and went up 7-6 with a strong tandem of Fink serving and DeVera at the net, but Cal's Henkel/Kusano fought back and won the next three games to pull even with their 9-7 decision. The No. 1 match between USC's Lindsey Nelson / Julie Smekodub and Cal's #2-ranked Babos/Fodor also stretched long. After USC was broken to bring up a 6-6 tie, the Trojans broke the Bears back to go up 7-6. Again, Cal staged a comeback and went up 8-7. Smekodub held serve as Nelson put away the final point to level the match 8-8 and bring up the tiebreaker, which saw the Trojans work to stay in stride with the Bears. USC took a 6-5 lead, but the see-saw battle continued and Cal squeezed its way ahead and fought off one more tie to win the match with a 9-8 (9-7) decision and secure the doubles point for the Bears.
The momentum built from doubles was squelched by a commanding No. 5 singles win by USC's $97 Dianne Matias, who topped #124 Marion Ravelojaona 6-0, 6-1 to tie up the match. A tug-of-war ensued, as #82 Stephanie Kusano beat USC's Anca Anastasiu 7-5, 6-2 at No. 4 to give Cal a 2-1 edge. But #12 Sarah Fansler would proceed to pound out a 7-5, 7-5 win over the defending Pac-10 singles champion, #13 Zsuzsanna Fodor at No. 2 to lock the match back up 2-2. Meanwhile, USC's Amanda Fink and Judy DeVera were doing battle at the No. 3 and No. 6 positions, respectively. Those matches finished simultaneously, with Fink stuck in a three-set loss to #19 Nina Henkel, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, while DeVera grabbed a 6-4, 7-6 (2) victory over Cristina Visico at No. 6 to keep the match even. That brought up Nelson's comeback heroics at No. 1, which topped off the match and the win for the Women of Troy.
#7 USC 4, #8 California 3