Women's Tennis
    No. 10 USC Women Host No. 14 ASU and Arizona
    Gabriela Niculescu holds a 24-8 singles record and is 27-8 in doubles with Amanda Fink.
    Gabriela Niculescu holds a 24-8 singles record and is 27-8 in doubles with Amanda Fink.

    April 8, 2008

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    THIS WEEK: USC returns home this week to host a pair of Pac-10 teams at Marks Stadium. The No. 10 Women of Troy (15-6, 3-2 Pac-10) first face off against No. 14 Arizona State in a 1:30 p.m. match on Friday (April 11), and then host Arizona at 12 p.m. on Saturday (April 12).

    ITA RANKING UPDATES: USC ranks #10 in the nation in the latest ITA team rankings (released April 8). The latest individual rankings were released on April 2, with six Trojans in the rankings -- #10 Amanda Fink, #50 Lindsey Nelson, #71 Gabriela Niculescu, #108 Leyla Entekhabi, #115 Maria Sanchez and #118 Sarah Fansler. In doubles, Fink/Niculescu are ranked #6 in the nation.

    SCOUTING ASU: The Sun Devils rank No. 14 and are 13-5 overall and 4-2 in Pac-10 play after beating Washington State 5-2 and falling 4-3 to Washington last week. ASU has two players ranked in singles -- #26 Kelcy McKenna and #31 Nadia Abdala -- and #28 Abdala/Abdala and #45 Pilecka/Leitch ranked in doubles. USC is 39-19 all-time against the Sun Devils after posting a 5-2 win over ASU earlier this season at Marks Stadium.

    SCOUTING ARIZONA: The Wildcats are 7-14 overall and 0-5 in Pac-10 play after losing 4-0 to Washington and falling 5-2 to Washington State last week. Arizona has #38 Danielle Steinberg ranked in singles. USC is 44-15 all-time against the Wildcats after posting a 6-1 win over Arizona earlier this season at Marks Stadium.

    RECENT RESULTS: USC got tagged with a pair of Pac-10 losses last week in a road trip to the Bay Area. The Trojans fell 5-2 to No. 5 Stanford. USC was able to grab singles wins at the No. 5 and 6 slots care of freshmen Maria Sanchez and Leyla Entekhabi, but the Cardinal had claimed the doubles point and managed enough singles power to get the win. The next day at No. 6 Cal, USC grabbed the doubles point before the Bears pulled off a singles sweep to secure the Pac-10 win.

    WINNING WAYS: Although her win streak was snapped at a 17-0 run through dual match singles play, Leyla Entekhabi stands out as USC's most successful dual match player, going 17-1 in dual matches and a 26-7 overall mark. She was recently named the Pac-10 Player of the Week after capturing her 14th straight win to clinch victory for the Trojans in Texas. Leading the Women of Troy in total singles wins is Amanda Fink, who holds an overall singles mark of 27-8 and a dual match record of 15-5.

    20-SOMETHING: Four Women of Troy have nailed the 20-win mark to date. Freshman Maria Sanchez captured her 20th singles win in Texas and now holds a 23-10 overall record and 14-6 record in dual matches. Amanda Fink leads the Trojans with 27 wins so far (27-8 overall, 15-5 dual), and Leyla Entekhabi (26-7, 17-1) and Gabriela Niculescu (24-8, 16-5) are next in line in the 20s. So far, every Women of Troy is at .500 or better in dual match singles play.

    SENIOR STAR: Lindsey Nelson -- 2007 Pac-10 singles champion and three-time All-American -- has 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 she brought a 91-27 overall singles record into the dual match season. She opened with four straight wins at the No. 1 singles slot this year, and ranks #52 in the ITA rankings, now holding a 13-12 overall record and 11-9 dual match mark while battling injuries. Nelson's 100th career singles win came in a match against a familiar opponent -- Cal's Suzi Babos, who beat Nelson in the 2006 NCAA Championship but lost to Nelson in the 2007 Pac-10 Championship -- on Feb. 29 in USC's dual match against the Bears.

    BACK FOR MORE: USC has two National Rookies of the Year on the roster for 2008. Now a junior, 2006 Rookie of the Year Amanda Fink is is joined by 2007 Rookie of the Year Sarah Fansler. 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. Now ranked No. 10 in the nation, Fink leads the Trojans with 27 singles wins, going 15-5 in dual match singles play and 27-8 overall. No. 97 Fansler holds a 9-9 dual record and 11-13 singles mark so far this season in limited action due to injuries.

    DOUBLE TROUBLE: Gabriela Niculescu sat out her first year at Troy but is good to go for 2008. She and Amanda Fink have already teamed up in fall doubles action, claiming the ITA West Regional doubles championship. The pair ranks #6 in the nation and is 27-8 overall and 16-4 in dual match play. Niculescu is also proving herself a singles powerhouse as well. Appearing in every dual match this year, she's 16-5 in dual match play and is 24-8 overall, now ranked #71 in ITA rankings.

    FIRST THINGS FIRST: USC has added four freshmen to the 2008 roster, and all four have already jumped into the win column. Cristala Andrews, Leyla Entekhabi, Lyndsay Kinstler and Maria Sanchez have all proven themselves as winners, tacking up victories in dual match play and in individual tournaments this season. The freshman foursome is a combined 39-8 in singles dual match play so far this season.

    LAST SEASON: USC made its ninth straight appearance at the NCAA Championships after making its fourth consecutive second-place finish in Pac-10 action. USC posted a 19-5 overall record and reached the NCAA Championships Round of 16, where the Trojans fell 4-3 to its 2007 NCAA Semifinals opponent Miami.

    WHAT'S TO COME: In order to stretch USC's 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.