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Dual Competiton Starts with Big West Foes

Feb. 7, 2007

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The 67th-ranked Loyola Marymount women's tennis team will begin dual competition this week as they travel to a pair of Big West foes. The trip begins with Cal State Fullerton on Thursday at 2 p.m. Two days later, Feb. 10, the Lions travel to No. 73 UC Santa Barbara for a 11 a.m. match. Despite a roster dominate by youth, the Lions will feature an experienced line-up with the start of dual play.

In The Polls
In the latest FILA Collegiate Tennis Rankings administered by ITA, the Lions are ranked 67th in the top-75 poll. Saturday's opponent, UC Santa Barbara is ranked 73rd.

Senior Leadership
Four seniors comprise most of the singles and doubles playing positions heading into the first matches of the season. Seniors Tamara Tanner, Serena Fermin, Robyn Baker and Erin Ivey all return with experience ranging from No. 2 though No. 4 in the singles lineup and at the No. 1 and No. 2 doubles position during their careers at LMU. Together with junior Pavla Mesterova at the No. 1 singles and the No. 1 doubles position, the Lions feature a veteran team.

Youth is Served
Tanner, Fermin, Baker, Ivey and Mesterova will have plenty of chances to be mentors this season as seven new players join the roster this season. The Cal Sate LA Tournament last week was their preseason to the start of the dual match competition that is to start this Thursday, according to Head Coach Jamie Sanchez. "Each match that they played got them a little closer to being match ready for the Intercollegiate season starting this week," he said. "The fact that we reached the Semifinals in two of the three flighted singles draw was a positive step in their preparation. We also reached the Final in the #1 Doubles flight, the Semi final in the #2 Doubles Flight and the Quarterfinals in the #3 Doubles Flight. That was positive for us early and a great stepping stone toward the Division I competition they will face on a regular basis. With the returning players already positioned for the top 5 spots in the singles lineup; I was looking for who would step up to play at No. 6 and with the No. 1 and No. 2 doubles teams established, I was looking for a No. 3 doubles combination. These matches established the depth factor for this team. The players results from this tournament will help to fill those two open positions."

This Week
The series between Fullerton and LMU has developed into a competitive rivalry over the years. UC Santa Barabara was selected as one of the 75 ranked teams in the nation at Division I and they again will be one of the top teams that make Southern California and the West Region one of the most competitive areas in Division I Women's tennis.

Last Time Out
Loyola Marymount doubles team Elrien de Villiers and Bliss Nixon, seeing their first action with the Lions last weekend, advanced to the Flight 1 Doubles final of the 2007 Cal State L.A. Invitational Tournament on Saturday. Nixon and de Villiers defeated Renee Paguillo and Tsai of Cal Poly Pomona in the semifinals by a score of 8-2. They fell in the finals to Canna Furuta and Kanykee Koichumanova of Cal State Northridge. It was the second time in the tournament Nixon faced Koichumanova, who defeated Nixon in the semifinals of the Singles 1&2 Flight, 6-2, 6-4. Nixon advanced to the semifinals with a win over Paguillo in the quarterfinals, 6-3, 6-4. Also, Audrey Bulkley won her match in the Quarterfinals against Mallory Brady of Cal Poly Pomona 6-0, 6-0 and advanced too the Semifinals. She fell to Canna Furuta of Cal State Northridge 6-3, 6-1. Also in the quarterfinals, de Villiers fell in her match against Kasia Krasinka of Cal State Northridge 6-2, 7-5. In other doubles action, Audrey Bulkley and Maria Garcia Planas in the Flight 2 Doubles fell in the Semifinals against Avila and Jackson of Cal State LA 8-4. Vanessa Lunardi and Natalie Tejada in the Flight 3 Doubles lost in the Quarterfinals against Lin and Wang of Cal Poly Pomona 8-4. Shawnell Russell and Audra Silman in the Flight 3 Doubles lost in the Quarterfinals against Maduz and Manasseh of Cal State LA 9-8. For the tournament, the Lions were knocked out in every match by player/duo that advanced to the finals of every flight.

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. 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.