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Lions Face Three Ranked Teams to Kick-Off Spring Season

Jan. 15, 2008

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Briefly
The Lions kick-off the 2007-08 spring season on the road this week facing three of the nation's top-75 ranked teams. LMU travels across town to compete against No. 8 USC on Wednesday, Jan. 16, followed by a trip to Tulsa, OK to face No. 46 Tulsa Saturday, Jan. 19 and 59th ranked Oklahoma State on Sunday, Jan. 20.

LMU This Season
The Lions will be counting on 2007 WCC Player of the Year, senior Pavla Mesterova, and fifth-year senior Tamara Tanner for leadership this season. They also return four sophomores in Bliss Nixon, Audrey Bulkley, Audra Silman and Maria Garcia-Planas Albert, and two more seniors, Natalie Tejada and Shawnell Russell. In addition, head coach Jamie Sanchez also welcomes three freshmen, Jasmin Heckel, Caroline Nothnagel and Shauna Morgan, along with one transfer student, whose collegiate tennis experience could prove invaluable. Junior Tina Razloznik (University of Arizona) will bring two seasons of Division I experience to the Lions."The biggest plus is that we have a good player at the top of the line-up. Having that top player is an indication of any good Division I team. We also have a good amount of depth, which is the second ingredient of a good team," Sanchez said. "We are tough and strong going after the number one spot. The team feeds off of the tenacity and experience that players like Pavla, Tamara and Tina bring".The Lions will have a tough go of it early on as the first seven matches are against top national programs. The Lions begin by traveling to USC on Jan. 16, followed by matches at Tulsa, at Oklahoma State and at San Diego State, before returning home for their home opener against Cal State Sacramento on February 8. They then hit the road again for matches at UCLA and at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Over the course of the spring 2008 season, the Lions will face a total of 13 teams that appear in the national rankings.

About #8 USC
USC junior Amanda Fink won the singles title at the Freeman Memorial Women's Tennis Championships on Sunday, topping UNC's Katrina Tsang in three sets. The victory topped off a powerful run for Fink at the tournament, hosted by UNLV this past weekend. Fink had pinned up four wins on the way into the final, including three consecutive straight-set wins before entering the title match. One of those was a 6-3, 6-2 upset of Stanford's third-seeded Jessica Nguyen in the quarterfinals. In the championship, Fink and Tsang split the first two sets before Fink took things into her control in the third, posting a 6-2, 2-6, 6-1 victory that earned the junior the crown.Also competing in Las Vegas this past week was freshman Cristala Andrews and sophomore Sarah Fansler. Andrews took on a powerful seventh-seeded Megan Alexander of Florida, and fell 6-1, 6-0 to move into the singles consolation action. Andrews retired from her consolation match against UNLV's Katy Alexander. In the Round of 16, Fansler came up the tournament's No. 4 seed, winning the first in a tiebreaker but falling in the match to fourth-seeded Whitney McCray of Georgia Tech 6-7, 6-4, 6-4. In doubles play, Fink and Andrews teamed up for the first time this season. They opened their run together with an upset of the tournament's No. 4 seed, Alexander/Borsanyi of Florida, with an 8-4 win. In the quarterfinals the next day, however, Fink/Andrews fell 8-1 to Stanford's Nguyen/Deason.Coach Richard Gallien is in this 13th season as the coach of the Trojans.

About #46 University of Tulsa
The 46th ranked University of Tulsa's women's tennis team defeated Arkansas-Little Rock 6-0 and Oral Roberts 4-0 in the opening matches of the 2008 spring season this past weekend. In doubles, Tulsa got wins from the duo of freshman Alexandra Kichoutkin and sophomore Jie Zeng, who defeated Patricia Cortes and Nathalia Garay (8-2) and junior Thalia Diaz-Barriga and sophomore Jenna Webster, who won by default. The pair of junior Carla Zabaleta and sophomore Rebecca Row fell to Laetitia Bourgeon and Marta Gomez-Jordana (8-7(8)). In singles action, freshman Kichoutkin won without dropping a game, defeating Marta Gomez-Jordana (6-0, 6-0), after TU was already up 2-0 with a victory by default by Webster. Diaz-Barriga clinched the match by beating Bourgeon (6-2, 6-1) in the first slot. Zeng made it 5-0 by defeating Garay (6-4, 6-0). Row finished it up for Tulsa with a (6-3, 6-1) victory against Rebecca Van Den Houte.TU defeated cross-town rival Oral Roberts in its second match of the day. As in the first match, the pairs of Kichoutkin and Zeng, beating Tayler Pippen and Hayden Rush (8-1) and Diaz-Barriga and Webster, defeating Corrine Langston and Whitney Johnson (8-0), gave Tulsa the doubles point. The duo of Row and Zabaleta went unfinished against Emily Arkel and Rafaela Souza at (4-3). Kichoutkin beat Pippen (6-0, 6-0) and Webster defeated Johnson (6-0, 6-0). Closing out the match was Zeng by defeating Langston (6-1, 6-0). The matches of Diaz-Barriga vs. Arkel, Zabaleta vs. Rush and Row vs. Souza were all unfinished with Tulsa having won the first set in each.Head coach Dean Orford is in his second season as the head women's tennis coach at Tulsa.

About #59 Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State gets back into action this spring after having an impressive showing at the fall ITA Regionals. Seniors Yawna Allen and Iryna Tkachenko each advanced to the round of 16 before being eliminated from the ITA Central Region Qualifier at Tulsa's Michael D. Case Tennis Center. In the round of 32, Allen defeated Nebraska's Wiveca Swarting (4-6, 7-6, 6-2) to advance to the next round, while Tkachenko garnered a victory over Gleisy Torres of Colorado (7-5, 7-5). In the round of 16, however, the Cowgirl seniors failed to advance to the quarterfinals as they each suffered a loss at the hands of an Arkansas player. Allen fell to Arkansas' Nanar Airpetian (6-1, 6-1), while Arkansas' Aurelija Miseycuite defeated Tkachenko (6-1, 6-0). Also in the round of 32, Cowgirl sophomore Nataliya Shatkovskaya bowed out to Wichita State's Stephani Dalmico (6-3, 6-3). Allen and Tkachenko also suffered losses that eliminated them from competition in doubles action. Allen and Shatkovskaya fell to Oklahoma's Ana-Maria Constaninescu and Chelsea Orr (8-6). Tkachenko and her sister, Maryna Tkachenko, were defeated by Wichita State's duo of Lenore Lazariou and Florentina Hanisch (9-7).Oklahoma State is led by coach Julius Lubicz-Majewski who enters his 19th year at the helm of the Cowgirls.

ITA Poll
It has become an annual expectation for the Loyola Marymount women's tennis program. The Lions have been ranked No. 64 in the first poll of the spring 2008 season by the Fila Collegiate Tennis Rankings administered by the ITA. Since 2000, LMU has held a NCAA National Ranking in seven of the last nine years. The Lions are coming off a third place finish (tied with San Diego) in the 2007 season after rain dominated the WCC Championships and halted the match.

Mesterova Already Makes Her Mark
The Lions roster returns two players who earned All-WCC honors on either the singles or doubles side. Leading the way is senior Pavla Mesterova, who earned the 2007 WCC Player of the Year honor, working her way to a No. 40 preseason ranking entering the 2007-08 season. Last season, she led the Lions with a 27-6 record, going 19-3 in dual matches at No. 1 singles. The 27 wins rank fifth all-time in LMU history for victories in a single season, while her .818 winning percentage is the best in program history. She is currently ranked 14th in the West Region. Mesterova also earned first-team All-WCC honors in doubles with former teammate Robyn Baker.Since the beginning of the 2007-08 women's tennis season, Mesterova has been on a roll, having been selected to compete in the Riviera All-American Tournament followed by the ITA National Indoor Championships. Her play in the ITA Regionals made her eligible for the at-large bid for the Indoor Championships. The ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships is the second of three national tournaments for singles and doubles during the collegiate tennis season. The other two include the ITA All-American Championships in October and the NCAA Championships in May. Playing in the tournament marked a first for Mesterova and for LMU, since it is the first time in her career, and in school history that the Lions have had a representative selected to play in the Indoor National Tournament.

Tanner Is Back
Senior Tamara Tanner returns for her fifth and final year of eligibility for the Lions. After earning honorable mention All-WCC honors in doubles play last year, Tanner's experience and leadership will serve a key role in leading the Lions this season.

Head Coach Jamie Sanchez
Jamie Sanchez is in his 33rd season as head coach of the Loyola Marymount women's tennis program. Sanchez, the program's only coach since its inception, began coaching the team in 1976 and has posted a career record of 418-378. In 2002, Sanchez guided the Lions to their first ever WCC Championship with a 4-2 win over Pepperdine. Sanchez and the Lions advanced to the NCAA playoffs as a team for the first time in program history. He was named the WCC Coach of the Year for the second straight year in 2002, and in 2006, he earned his third honor.