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Young Squad Heads to CSULA Tourney

Jan. 31, 2007

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The Loyola Marymount women's tennis team will make its annual trek to the Cal Staet L.A. Invitational Tournament to start the spring portion of thier season. The tournament will run from Friday, Feb. 2 through Sunday, Feb. 4. The Lions will send eight players to the tournament, with seven of the eight being underclassmen and/or in their first year with the Lions. First matches featuring the Lions will begin at 9 a.m.

CSULA Tourney
The Lions have been entered in the Cal State LA Tennis Tournament on February 2, 3, and 4th. The tournament is flighted: Flight #1 (#1 and #2 singles), Flight #2 (#3 and #4 singles) and Flight #3 (#5, #6, #7 and #8 players). Doubles will consist of individual draws of all #1's, #2's and #3's/#4's. Playing for the Lions will be 1. Bliss Nixon; 2. Maria Garcia Planas; 3. Elrien de Villiers; 4. Audrey Bulkley; 5. Vanessa Lunardi; 6. Shawnell Russell; 7. Audra Silman; 8. Natalie Tejada. The doubles will be 1. Nixon - De Villiers; 2. Garcia Planas - Bulkley; 3. Russell - Silman and 4. Lunardi - Tejada.

Chance at Experience
LMU added the tournament to the schedule to give its youthful roster some important experience heading into the dual portion of the schedule. "We have always been very successful at this tournament," said Head Coach Jamie Sanches. "We will be entering half of our team. I want these players to get a little more experience and match play before we open the season on February 8th against Cal State Fullerton. In last year's tournament we were in each of the singles finals and in 2 out of the 3 doubles finals. We hope to fare as well in this year's tournament."

ITA Poll
It has become an annual expectation for the Loyola Marymount women's tennis program. The Lions have been ranked No. 68 in the first poll of the spring 2007 season by the Fila Collegiate Tennis Rankings administered by the ITA. Since 2000, LMU has held an NCAA National Ranking in six of the last eight years.

Another Title
Loyola Marymount junior Pavla Mesterova won the Women's A Singles draw at the 2006 Saint Mary's College Invitational on Sunday, defeating Stanford's Lindsay Burdette in three sets. The Lions had a strong showing overall in the tournament that concluded on Sunday, Oct. 15 in Moraga. Mesterova earned a 6-3 win in the first set but fell 6-4 in the second to set-up the final set. Mesterova ran away with it, 6-1. It is Mesterova's fist tournament win as a Lion as the 51st ranked player in the nation is 4-0 on the season. Mesterova run to the finals started with a bye in the Round of 32 and then a 6-4, 6-2 win over San Francisco's Camile Pamart in the Round of 16. In the Quarterfinals she defeated Nevada's Caroline Baily, the No. 5 seed in the tournament, 7-6 (5), 6-2. In the semifinals Mesterova earned one of the more thrilling matches of the weekend, defeating Nevada's Maria Mizyuk, the No. 3 seed in the tournament. After falling 6-2 in he first, Mesterova came back to send the match to a third set with a 6-3 win in the second. She then battled to a tiebreaker win in the third, 7-6 (3).

The Head Coach
Jamie Sanchez is in his 32nd 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 406-363 in 31 seasons. Sanchez ranks 12th all-time nationally among active coaches with 394 victories. In 2002, Sanchez guided the Lions to their first ever West Coast Conference Championship with a 4-2 win over Pepperdine. With the win, Sanchez and the Lions advanced to the NCAA playoffs as a team for the first time in program history. He was named the West Coast Conference Coach of the Year for the second straight year in 2002 and in 2006 he earned his third WCC Coach of the Year honor. In his 31 years at the helm of the Lions' program, Sanchez's teams have never finished lower than fourth in the WCC. The Lions finished 12-14 and in second place after reaching the WCC Championship in 2006. In November of 2004, Sanchez was honored with the US Tennis Association/Intercollegiate Tennis Association Campus Recreation Award as the sectional winner for all of Southern California. In its second year, the award honors an ITA coach who has done an outstanding job implementing recreational tennis programs on campus in an effort to grow tennis participation. Sanchez, who developed and supervised the original LMU fitness center and club sports program, also worked with the current Campus Recreation department to direct LMU Tennis 101, where a recreational class open to all members of LMU's Burns Recreation Center is offered twice a week to promote fitness and interest in the sport of tennis. As the Southern California sectional winner, Sanchez advanced to the national finalist pool of nine.