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No. 8 Women's Tennis Hosts No. 19 Harvard and Saint Mary's This Weekend

March 31, 2006

Malibu, Calif. -

This Week: The nationally-ranked Pepperdine women's tennis team continues its nine-match home stand this week when it hosts nationally-ranked Harvard on Saturday at 11 a.m. and Saint Mary's in a West Coast Conference (WCC) match on Sunday, April 2 at 1 p.m.

The Waves are ranked at No. 8 for the second week in a row, while Harvard remains in the Top 20 with a No. 19 ranking.

Pepperdine enters the match with a 14-3 record, while the Crimson stands at 10-5 on the season. The Gaels are 7-5 on the season.

The Waves closed out March with a 6-3 record.

Stanford Recap: No. 1 Stanford survived a scare by the No. 8 Pepperdine women's tennis team as it defeated the Waves, 4-3, on Wednesday afternoon at the Ralphs-Straus Tennis Center in Malibu, Calif. With the win, the Cardinal remained undefeated at 17-0, while the Waves fell to 14-3 on the season.

Stanford earned the doubles point after getting wins on courts one and two. The No. 1 duo of Alice Barnes and Anne Yelsey defeated No. 22 Sylvia Kosakowski and Merve Asimgil 8-5, while Celia Durkin and Amber Liu beat No. 25 Bianca Dulgheru and Eva Dickes. The Wave duo of Caroline Raba and Natalie Braverman defeated Lejla Hodzic and Jessica Nguyen 8-6 on court three.

The Cardinal went up 3-0 after picking up wins at No. 6 and No. 3, but the Waves fought back with two upsets on courts one and five. At No. 1, 27-ranked Dulgheru upset No. 15 Liu 6-3, 7-5 and Dickes handed No. 41 Whitney Deason a 6-2, 6-0 defeat to keep Pepperdine in the match 3-2. Kosakowski evened the score after a huge upset on court two, defeating No. 5 Barnes 7-6, 6-3. All eyes turned to No. 3 where Braverman and No. 13 Yelsey were battling in the third set. Braverman came from behind to tie the set at 4 games each, but Yelsey won in the third set 6-4 to clinch the match for Stanford.

About Harvard: The Crimson is coming off of a 4-3 victory over San Diego State, picking up their 10th win. Leading Harvard is Melissa Anderson who is nationally-ranked at No. 70, while Elsa O'Riain follows with an 85th ranking. The duo team up for a No. 4 national ranking in doubles. Gordon Graham is in his 16th season at the helm of the Harvard women's tennis program.

Series Versus Harvard: The Waves lead the all-time series 14-3, but lost in 2005, 4-3 to the Crimson.

About Saint Mary's: The Gaels picked up two wins over the weekend defeating Portland and Gonzaga to move to 7-5 on the season. Junior Aude Lambert leads the Gaels in the No. 1 position with a 9-3 record and a 124th national ranking. Head Coach Lisa Alipaz is in the midst of her seventh season with Saint Mary's and was named the WCC's Coach of the Year in 2005.

Series Versus Saint Mary's: Pepperdine leads the all-time series 3-0. In 2005, the Waves defeated the Gaels 4-0 in the semifinals of the WCC Championships.

Looking Ahead: After this weekend, the Waves close out the regular season with a match against Florida International on Friday, April 7 and then travel to Santa Clara for the WCC Championships from April 21-23.

Waves in the Top 10: For the first time since the 2001 season, the Waves earned a spot in the Top 10 with a season-high No. 8 national ranking on March 21 and hold the ranking for the second week in a row. 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 21). 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 23-9, playing in the first and second positions.

Senior Natalie Braverman and junior Caroline Raba have also made a mark for the Waves going 8-1 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 14-3 record. Sylvia Kosakowski and Caroline Raba are solid competitors at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. Natalie Braverman is having a stellar season going 10-2 at No. 4 and is 13-4 overall. Eva Dickes has only lost two matches and is 15-2 overall at No. 5, while Merve Asimgil has played at positions 4-6 and has a combined record of 10-7.

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 11-1 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. Pepperdine lost its first match at home when No. 1 Stanford edged the Waves 4-3 on March 29.

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 women'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.