No. 49 Toreros Host No. 11 USC on Friday USD looks to win third match in a row against a tough Trojans team
Cara Brown and the Toreros look to take down No. 11 USC on Friday
Feb. 27, 2013
No. 49 San Diego (3-2) vs. No. 11 USC (8-2)
Friday, March 1, 2013 1:30 p.m.
Skip and Cindy Hogan Tennis Center
LAST TIME OUT: The Toreros knocked off No. 65 Hawaii 5-1 last Tuesday. The match was postponed due to wet courts, but once it got underway the Toreros cruised winning five of their six singles matches in cold and windy weather. Doubles were not played due to expected rainfall. Freshman Marta Stojanovic got the Toreros off on the right foot, sweeping her match 6-0, 6-0 at the No. 5 spot. Senior captains Laura Claus and Cara Brown followed suit, winning their matches 6-1, 6-2 at the No. 2 and No. 6 spots respectively. The Toreros' lone loss came at the No. 1 where senior Stephanie Hoffpauir fell 6-3, 6-1 to Hawaii's Katarina Poljakova. The last two singles matches resulted in Torero victories. Freshman Shani Blecher won 6-4, 6-1 at the No. 3 spot and Anna Depenau battled back after losing the first set to win 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 at the No. 4.
SCOUTING THE TROJANS: USC enters the week with an 8-2 record and No. 11 ITA team rankings. They are 4-2 against ranked teams, with both their losses coming to top ten teams (No. 1 North Carolina and No. 9 California)... The Trojans feature five ranked singles players, including two in the top ten: No. 3 Sabrina Santamaria, No. 7 Danielle Lao, No. 26 Zoe Scandalis, No. 84 Gabriella DeSimone, and No. 99 Giuliana Olmos. Both Santamaria and Scandalis missed their last match against Cal with injuries, while their other three ranked players fell in singles...The Trojans also boast a very strong doubles lineup that includes the nation's top ranked duo in Kaitlyn Christian and Santamaria. Also ranked are DeSimone/Scandalis at No.25 and Lao/Valeria Pulido at No. 32... USC Coach Richard Gallien has taken the Trojans to the NCAA Tournament in every one of his 17 years with the school and holds a record of 301-130... The Trojans hold a 21-3 all-time series advantage over the Toreros, and are 6-1 at USD... The Trojans knocked off the Toreros last season 6-1 in Los Angeles.
BRINGING UP THE REAR: Freshman Marta Stojanovic and senior Cara Brown are both on a roll in singles play. Stojanovic, playing primarily at the No. 5, is 4-1 in singles play in 2013, winning all of her wins coming in two sets. Brown is 3-1 at the No. 6 and has also won her last three matches.
IN THE MIX: The Toreros are ranked No. 49 in the latest ITA team rankings, which came out Tuesday. USD dropped from nine spots from No. 40 despite knocking off a No. 65 Hawaii team.
GOING AGAINST THE BEST: Four of the Toreros' first five matches have been against ranked opponents, with two of them coming against teams ranked in the top five. The Toreros are 2-2 in those matches, but they have held their own in every one of them keeping opposing coaches on their toes. After the loss to No. 5 Stanford, Head Coach Sherri Stephens said, "We played the No. 5 team in the country for four hours and it was darn close. The coach from Stanford came up to me afterwards and said `I don't want to play you guys again.' It gives us confidence to be able to go out and play against anyone." The schedule doesn't get any easier for the Toreros as their next four matches are against top-30 teams (No. 11 USC, No. 13 Michigan, No. 19 Texas Tech, and No. 29 Texas).
CONFERENCE UPDATE: The Toreros are one of two WCC teams ranked by the ITA. Saint Mary's (5-4, 2-0), who was picked to finish second in the preseason poll, currently sits at No. 44 and the Toreros are at No. 49. Pepperdine, who was the preseason pick to win the WCC, has struggled out of the gate and fell out of the rankings after starting 2013 1-6.
PLUGGING THE PROGRAM: The Toreros 2013 promotional video has been released. The video highlights the program's proud history, the new court surfaces at the Hogan Tennis Center, and the current Toreros tennis players. The video was shot and edited by senior captain Cara Brown. The video can be seen below.
PRESEASON PRAISE: The Toreros were picked to finish third in the 2013 WCC preseason poll and junior Anna Depenau was one of six WCC players named to the preseason WCC all-conference team. The Toreros, who won their first WCC Championship in school history last season, received 54 points overall. No. 49 USD came in behind conference favorite Pepperdine (who is now 1-6) and Saint Mary's (5-4, 2-0). The Waves, who had three players named to the preseason all conference team, received six first place votes and 61 points overall, while the Gaels received three first place votes and 56 points overall.
2011-12 IN REVIEW: The 2011-12 season was one of the best seasons in USD women's tennis history. The Toreros went 13-9 and 9-2 in WCC play on their way to winning their first WCC Championship in school history. The Toreros finished the season ranked No. 50 and qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive year, where they fell to No. 28 Vanderbilt 4-1. Head Coach Sherri Stephens received WCC Coach of the Year for the third time in her career and for the second straight year after helping the team earn seven All-WCC selections. Highlighting the honors were senior Juliette Coupez and sophomore Anna Depenau, who both earned first-team All-WCC recognition in singles. Junior Laura Claus earned honorable mention honors as well. In doubles, Depenau and senior Maja Sujica took home first-team accolades, while Coupez and Claus were named to the second team.
MEET HEAD COACH Sherri Stephens: Coach Stephens is entering her 29th season with the Toreros and has a career record of 334-299 (.528). Stephens arrived at USD in the fall of 1984 and immediately began to reshape the women's tennis fortunes. During her time coaching the Toreros, she has advanced her team to the NCAA Tournament 11 times (1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2011 and 2021). The Toreros have finished among the nation's top-25 in eight seasons, with a high of #14 in 1989, (18-8 overall record), which was USD's first team to advance to the NCAA's. Stephens has also had five Toreros receive a total of twelve NCAA All-American honors: Tonya Fuller (1991), Laura Richards (1992, 1993), Julie McKeon (1992, 1993, 1994), most recently Zuzana Lesenarova (1997, 1998, 1999, 2000), and Katarina Valkyova (1999, 2000).
Stephens wrapped up her 28th season (2011-12) at USD by leading the Toreros to their first ever WCC championship with a 4-2 win over Pepperdine and garnering her second consecutive WCC Coach of the Year honor. Stephens' squad made their 11th overall trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2011-12 and second in a row. In 2010-11, Stephens helped lead the Toreros to a 19-6 record, the highest win total in her tenure at the University of San Diego, and winning her second-career West Coast Conference Coach of the Year honor. Stephens guided the Toreros to their first NCAA appearance since 1999, defeating UNLV in the first round by a score of 4-2 before falling to host UCLA 4-0 in the second round. The second round finish matched the best NCAA finish in USD history and the fifth time Stephens has led the Toreros to the second round.
Under Stephens' guidance the Toreros came in second in the WCC Championships behind Pepperdine in 2011 and placed all six regulars on the All-WCC singles and doubles teams. The Toreros also posted their best team winning percentage in 2011 with a .760 mark under Stephens, while also setting a new team record with a 14-1 record at Hogan Tennis Center and tying the team record with nine dual match shutouts on the year. Stephens helped guide USD to a team-record 11-consecutive dual match victories and their highest ranking (23rd) since the 1994 season. The Toreros also spent five straight weeks in the Campbell/ITA Top-25 after opening the season with a No. 67 ranking.
In 2010, Stephens notched her 300th career win en route to a 13-12 dual record, a final ITA ranking of #65, and a third place finish at the WCC Championships. Also in 2010, former Torero great, Zuzana Lesenarova, the 1999 NCAA Division I Singles Champion and four-time ITA All-American, was inducted into the WCC Hall of Honor.
With Coach Stephen's leadership, the Toreros have gained respect as a national contender and she has turned the women's tennis program into one of the most respected programs in the nation. Coach Stephens has had two memorable seasons (1998-1999, 1999-2000) with the Toreros. During the 1999-2000 season, USD women's tennis team, which finished with a national ranking of 75 had two individuals appear in the NCAA Division I Women's Tennis Tournament held in Malibu, CA. Zuzana Lesenarova advanced to the third round of the singles tournament, eventually losing to Stanford's Laura Granville in three sets (6-0, 4-6, 6-3). Katarina Valkyova lost in the first round to Cincinnati's Kara Molony in three sets (6-0, 3-6, 6-3). The Lesenarova/ Valkyova duo entered the NCAA doubles tournament ranked No. 1 in the nation, but had to withdraw due to injury. Both Lesenarova and Valkyova earned NCAA All-American honors in 2000.
In the 1998-1999 season, her squad finished 14-11 overall, advancing to the 2nd round of the NCAA's and finishing with a national ranking of 28. Zuzana Lesenarova won the 1999 NCAA Singles Championship, holding her No. 1 ranking all spring and winning three of four ITA Grand Slam events. Kataring Valkyova was a third alternate at the NCAA's and she advanced to the quarters where Lesenarova dealt her a three-set loss. The duo teamed up in doubles play to advance to the NCAA semifinal round. Lesenarova and Valkyova were named 1999 NCAA All-Americans.
Well-respected among her peers in the coaching profession, Stephens has been a featured speaker at several ITA Coaches' Conventions. Twice she has had the privilege of coaching at the Olympic Sports Festival (1993/South, 1995/West), with her 1995 squad winning the gold medal. She was named the 1994 Female Coach of the Year by the USTA, Southern California Section/San Diego District. Sherri has been involved with numerous administrative positions within collegiate tennis such as: the NCAA Ranking Committee, the NCAA Rules Committee, and as Tournament Chairman for the All-American National Championships the past five years. She also runs summer camps every year.
Stephens is a native of Phoenix, Arizona, and was a nationally ranked player on the junior circuit before enrolling at the University of Arizona. After completing her collegiate playing career in 1979, she began her coaching career as an assistant for the Arizona Wildcats.