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No. 13 Women's Tennis Hosts Wichita State in First Round of NCAA's on Friday

May 10, 2006

Malibu, Calif. - This Week: The nationally-ranked Pepperdine women's tennis team kicks off the 2006 NCAA Championships as it plays host to San Diego State, Wichita State, and UCLA at the Ralphs-Straus Tennis Center in Malibu, Calif.

In the first round, No. 13 Pepperdine will face Wichita State on Friday, May 12 at noon, while San Diego State takes on UCLA at 3 p.m. that day. The winners of each match will meet on Saturday, May 13 in a 3 p.m. second-round match.

The Waves, who are ranked 13th in the nation, hold a 20-3 record and captured their fourth consecutive West Coast Conference title. Wichita State owns a 17-7 record and earned an automatic bid into the tournament after winning the Missouri Valley Conference.

The Aztecs of San Diego State, who dropped a 4-3 decision to the Waves earlier this season, are 16-8 overall, while the Bruins hold a 13-6 record.

Live Stats are available for all matches at www.pepperdinesports.com.

About Wichita State: The Shockers, who enter the match with a 17-7 record, appear in their first-ever NCAA Championships after earning an automatic bid by winning the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) title. Leading the team is Madina Rakhim, who compiled a 21-3 record at the No. 1 singles. Rakhim pairs up with Wendi Webster as the duo posted a 20-plus win season at the No. 1doubles. Head Coach Chris Young is in his second season with WSU and was named the MVC Coach of the Year.

Series Versus Wichita State: Friday's match will mark the first meeting for both tennis programs.

About San Diego State: The 34th-ranked Aztecs enter the first-round match with a 16-8 record and make their 19th all-time NCAA tournament appearance. Senior Dita Hauerlandova leads SDS at the No. 1 position and checks in at No. 69 in the rankings. In doubles, Hauerlandova pairs up with Sisse Nielsen for a 32nd rank in doubles. Head Coach Peter Mattera is in his 13th season with the Aztecs.

Series Versus San Diego State: Pepperdine leads the all-times series 21-18 over the Aztecs. On February 23, the Waves defeated SDS 4-3 at home.

About UCLA: The No. 19-ranked Bruins head into the tournament with a 13-6 record. UCLA boasts five players in the singles rankings with Laura Gordon topping the list at No. 21. Tracy Lin follows with a No. 46 ranking, Riza Zalameda checks in at No. 55, Alex McGoodwin is right behind at No. 57 and Ashley Joelson rounds out the Top 100 with a 96th ranking. In doubles, Gordon and Zalameda pair up for the No. 9 national ranking, while McGoodwin pairs up with Elizabeth Lumpkin and check in at No. 47. Stella Sampras Webster is in her 10th season as the head coach of the Bruins.

Series Versus UCLA: UCLA leads the all-time series 35-13 against the Waves. Earlier this season, then-No. 25 Waves upset then-No. 15 UCLA 4-3, handing the Bruins their first loss of the season. Pepperdine had not defeated UCLA since 2001.

Waves in NCAA Individual Championships: Sophomore Bianca Dulgheru recieved an automatic bid into the NCAA Singles tournament, while Pepperdine's top two doubles teams earned bids into the NCAA Doubles Championship. No. 24 Dulgheru appears in her second straight individual championship and will team up with Eva Dickes as the duo compete in its first doubles tournament. Leading the Waves in doubles is Sylvia Kosakowski and Merve Asimgil, who are ranked 17th in the nation.

Pepperdine & the NCAA's: Since 1982, Pepperdine has advanced to the NCAA Championships on 19 occasions and reached the quarterfinal round four times. Last year, the Waves defeated Mississippi State, 4-1, in the first round but was defeated by Georgia Tech 4-0 to end Pepperdine's 2005 season.

Double Trouble: Pepperdine boasts two doubles teams that are ranked in the Top 35 in the most recent ITA Rankings (May 1). Leading the Waves is the duo of senior Merve Asimgil and sophomore Sylvia Kosakowski, who moved up to a season-high rank of No. 20, while sophomore Bianca Dulgheru and junior Eva Dickes are ranked at No. 33. The two teams have a combined record of 29-11, playing in the first and second positions.

Senior Natalie Braverman and junior Caroline Raba have also made a mark for the Waves going 12-1 at No. 3 and 13-1 overall, winning their last 12 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 West Coast Conference Player of the Year Bianca Dulgheru who is ranked at No. 24 with a 18-3 record. Sylvia Kosakowski compiled a 13-7 record at the No. 2 position. Her regular season is highlighted by a win over No. 5 Alice Barnes of Stanford. Natalie Braverman is having a stellar season going 12-3 at No. 4 and is 17-5 overall. The senior received All-WCC first team honors for the third straight year. Eva Dickes has only lost three matches during the regular season and is 19-3 overall at No. 5, while Merve Asimgil has played at positions 4-6 and has a combined record of 12-8.

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: The Waves boast a 14-1 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, but closed it regular season play with a 5-2 win over No. 45 Florida International.

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. The Waves picked up three wins and their fourth straight West Coast Conference title at this year's conference championships at Santa Clara.

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.