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Women's Tennis Garners No. 8 National Ranking; Hosts LMU on Wednesday

March 21, 2006

Malibu, Calif. -

This Week: The nationally-ranked Pepperdine women's tennis team continues its nine-match home stand this week when it hosts Loyola Marymount in a West Coast Conference match on Wednesday, March 22. Action kicks off at 1:30 p.m.

After posting two victories over No. 59 New Mexico and No. 49 Sacramento State, the Waves moved up the rankings and into the Top 10, checking in at No. 8.

Pepperdine enters the match with a 13-2 record, while LMU stands at 3-7 on the season. The Lions were ranked at No. 75 last week, but dropped out of the rankings after losing their last three matches.

New Mexico Recap: The No. 14 Pepperdine women's tennis team picked up its 12th win after handing No. 49 New Mexico a 6-1 defeat.The Waves (12-2) won the doubles point over the Lobos (9-3) after getting wins from No. 2 and No. 3. No. 17 Eva Dickes and Bianca Dulgheru easily put away Ola Abou-Zekry and Lucy Scot 8-1, while Natalie Braverman and Caroline Raba defeated Nora Quintal and Jen Ryba 8-3.

In singles at the No. 1 position, No. 34 Dulgheru upset No. 27 Maja Kovocek 6-1, 6-2, while Raba defeated Quintal 6-4, 6-3. Braverman picked up her fifth consecutive win when she beat Abou-Zekry 6-1, 6-1 and Dickes recorded her 12th win of the season, defeating Scott 6-3, 6-3. Merve Asimgil won over Mackenzie White in the tiebreaker.

The Lobos only point of the match came at court two where No. 116 Iva Gersic defeated No. 93 Sylvia Kosakowski 3-6, 6-2, 10-8.

Sacramento State Recap: The No. 14 Pepperdine women's tennis crushed No. 49 Sacramento State 7-0 on Sunday afternoon.

The Waves swept the doubles for the second consecutive match to win the point. No. 36 Merve Asimgil and Sylvia Kosakowski defeated Margarita Karnaukhova and Anastassia Lyssenko 8-5 at No.1, while No. 17 Eva Dickes and Bianca Dulgheru beat Joyce Martinez and Luba Schifris 8-5 at court two. Natalie Braverman and Caroline Raba shut out Svetlana Pimenova and Cecilia Helland 8-0.

Pepperdine kept its momentum going in singles as it won all six matches in straight sets. No. 34 Dulgheru defeated Karnaukhova 6-2, 6-1, while No. 93 Kosakowski handed Schifris a 7-6 (5), 6-2 loss. Raba took down Martinez 6-1, 6-3 and No. 125 Braverman defeated Karina Jarlkaganova 6-4, 6-4. Eva Dickes continued her winning ways with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Helland. Asimgil easily beat Pimenova at No. 6, 6-0, 6-3.

About LMU: The Lions, who dropped out of the rankings this week, enter the match at 3-7 after dropping their last three matches to Sacramento State, Eastern Tennessee State and Nebraska. Sophomore Pavla Mesterova leads the Lions with 21 singles victories and could become one of three players in LMU women's tennis history to reach the 30-win milestone in one season. Head Coach Jamie Sanchez is in the midst of his 32nd year with the Lions and needs one more victory to reach the 400 career win milestone.

Series Versus LMU: The Waves have dominated the series against LMU, shutting out the Lions 22 times. Last year, the Waves defeated the Lions 5-2 during the regular season.

Looking Ahead: The Waves play out the remainder of the regular season at home and face No. 1 Stanford on March 29. In April, the Waves face Harvard on the first of the month, Saint Mary's on the second and close out their regular season with a match against Florida International on the 7th.

Waves in the Top 10: For the first time since the 2001 season, the Waves have earned a spot in the Top 10 with a season-high No. 8 national ranking. In 2001, the Waves climbed as high as No. 7 and finished the season at No. 20. In 2000, Pepperdine was ranked as high as No. 2 on March 29 and finished the season at No. 10 with a 21-5 record.

Double Trouble: Pepperdine is one of only seven teams with two doubles teams ranked in the Top 50. Notre Dame, USC, Clemson, Maryland, Georgia Tech, UNC and Pepperdine all boast more than one doubles pairs in the most recent ITA Rankings (March 7). Leading the Waves is the duo of senior Merve Asimgil and sophomore Sylvia Kosakowski check in at No. 22, while sophomore Bianca Dulgheru and junior Eva Dickes who are ranked at No. 25. The two teams have a combined record of 21-7, playing in the first and second positions.

Senior Natalie Braverman and junior Caroline Raba have also made a mark for the Waves going 6-1 at No. 3 and have won their last five matches.

Success From All Around: One of the reasons for Pepperdine's solid succes is its depth in the line-up. Playing at No. 1 is sophomore Bianca Dulgheru who is ranked at No. 27 with a 12-3 record. Sylvia Kosakowski and Caroline Raba are solid competitors at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. Natalie Braverman is having a stellar season going 10-1 at No. 4 and is 12-3 overall. Eva Dickes has only lost two matches and is 13-2 overall at No. 5, while Merve Asimgil has played at positions 4-6 and has a combined record of 9-6.

Head Coach Gualberto Escudero: Solidly established as a national Top 20 program since the late 1980's, Pepperdine head women's tennis coach Gualberto Escudero figures to field yet another strong team during the 2006 collegiate campaign.

Beginning his 29th season at the helm in Malibu, Escudero is the veteran member of the Pepperdine coaching staff, and he has compiled a cumulative career dual match record of 515-257 (.667) dating back to the start of the 1978 campaign. Escudero has directed 22 Pepperdine teams to a national Top 20 ranking, and Pepperdine's 1984, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2006 squads each cracked the Top 10.

Escudero has led Pepperdine to post-season action 22 times in 28 seasons, and the Waves have advanced to the quarterfinal round at the NCAA Championships on four occasions since 1989. Additionally, Pepperdine has won 20 or more dual matches in a season 10 times, plus captured 16 West Coast Conference team championships dating back to 1988.

Escudero's hard work has not gone unnoticed by his peers, as he was tabbed the University's "Coach of the Year" in 1984 and 1989. In 1991, Escudero was selected the ITA's District 8 "Coach of the Year," as Pepperdine compiled a dual match record of 23-5 and was ranked No. 5 in the final ITA poll--the best-ever final national ranking for the program. Escudero was named the West Coast Conference "Coach of the Year" for the first time in 1999, and was tabbed the ITA District 8 "Coach of the Year" for a second time. Escudero was selected the league's "Coach of the Year" again in 2000.

Escudero obtained both his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Pepperdine. Escudero earned a bachelor's degree in science in 1972, and a master's degree in teacher education two years later.

Presently, Escudero teaches tennis courses for the University's physical education department, and his classes are annually among the most popular at the school. Pepperdine has continued to benefit from Escudero's solid recruiting efforts--attracting top-ranked players from the United States and foreign countries--thus allowing the Waves to establish themselves as a top contender for the NCAA team title.

Waves At Home: In the midst of the 2006 season, the Waves boast an 10-0 record when playing at the Ralphs-Straus Tennis Center on Pepperdine's campus. Beginning the season in victorious fashion, Pepperdine defeated Cal Poly, 6-1, in its season opener. The Waves have also edged then-No. 15 UCLA and No. 15 Baylor, 4-3, winning the always-important doubles point in both matches.

Waves On The Road: On the road, Pepperdine is 3-2 on the season. The Waves' only two losses came at the hands of then-No. 10 Miami and then-No. 2 USC. Pepperdine picked up wins at San Diego State, UC Irvine and South Florida.

Sports Information Hotline: For updated information concerning Pepperdine athletics, including results and a schedule of upcoming events, please contact the Pepperdine Sports Information Hotline at 310-506-7373. The hotline will be updated on a regular basis throughout the course of the 2005-06 school year.

On The Web: For updated information concerning Pepperdine athletics, including results and schedules of upcoming events, on the Internet, please bookmark the following web address: http://www.PepperdineSports.com

For More Information: For more information on the men's tennis program or to arrange interviews with coaches and players, please contact Jennifer Landes at the Pepperdine Sports Information office by calling (310) 506-4160.