This Week for the Wildcats: No. 47 Arizona (5-2) travels to face No. 12 Southern California (3-0) and No. 11 UCLA (5-2). The Wildcats will face the Woman of Troy at 1:30 p.m. (PST) Friday, Feb. 18, before taking on the Bruins at noon (PST) on Saturday, Feb. 19.
Last Time Out: The Wildcats hit the road for the first time this year, facing No. 48 South Alabama and No. 15 Tulane. Arizona lost both matches, winning the Nos. 1 and 2 singles positions, while losing Nos. 3-6 in both matches. The lone difference in the two matches was that the Wildcats won the doubles point over South Alabama, but lost it for the first time this year when facing Tulane.
Against Southern California: The last time the two teams faced off, the Wildcats saw their 2004 season come to an end. Then-No. 6 USC defeated Arizona 4-0 in the Round of 32 of the NCAA Tournament. Earlier in 2004, the Trojans defeated the Cats in Tucson, 5-2, while the match scheduled to be played in Los Angeles was cancelled. The last time Arizona defeated USC was in 1998, while the Wildcats last victory in Los Angeles came the year prior.
Scouting the Trojans: USC opens the week undefeated, but has mid-week match against San Diego, which Arizona defeated 7-0. Last season’s Pac-10 Conference runner-up features the No. 6-ranked singles player, Nicole Leimbach, along with four other players ranked in the top 80. No. 36 Carine Vermuelen and Lindsey Nelson lead the Trojans’ doubles attack. Although Vermuelen and Nelson did lose once thus far in dual match play, Southern California has not lost any other doubles matches this year.
Against UCLA: Arizona faced the Bruins once last year, losing 6-1. Arizona last defeated UCLA in 2000, while the Arizona’s last road win against the Bruins came in 1997. Only last year’s national champion Stanford has been a tougher opponent on the Wildcats, as the Bruins hold a 34-7 all-time edge over Arizona.
Scouting the Bruins: UCLA returns just six of its 11 rostered players from last year’s national runner-up squad. Despite losing so many of its athletes, four of the six singles players from last year’s team return. The Bruins currently hold an identical record as Arizona at 5-2. The Bruins have faced only two teams not currently in the top 40, losing to No. 16 Clemson and No. 10 Miami (Fla.) by a score of 4-3 in both matches.
UCLA has four nationally-ranked singles players beginning with No. 9 Riza Zalameda and No. 20 Daniela Bercek. Zalameda and Bercek combine to be the fifth-ranked doubles pair.
The Doubles Point: Arizona has won the doubles point in all but one of its matches. Tulane has been the only team able to take the point from the Cats.
Senior Leaders: Seniors Dianne Hollands and Maja Mlakar were the only Wildcats to win a singles match in last week’s matches. The pair is a combined 13-1 in dual match play this year. As a doubles pair, Hollands and Mlakar are 7-0.
Wildcats in the Rankings: Dianne Hollands began the season ranked No. 23, while Maja Mlakar opened at No. 63. In doubles, Hollands and Mlakar rank No. 17. Of the top 40 singles players, 10 hail from Pac-10 schools. In addition, eight of the top 60 doubles pairs represent the Pac-10.
Hollands ranks No. 3 in the Western Region, while Mlakar is ranked No. 9. Stephanie Balzert is tied for the No. 30 spot in the regional rankings.
Individual rankings are next scheduled to be released Feb. 22.
Fall Action: After finishing the 2004 season ranked No. 39 as a team, Arizona entered the fall with high expectations. Dianne Hollands was ranked No. 7 nationally, and the pair of Hollands and Maja Mlakar earned the billing of No. 1. Hollands finshed the fall with a singles record of 7-7, while Mlakar went 6-3. Stephanie Balzert led the team with 10 wins. Camelia Todorova wrapped up her first taste of college tennis with a 8-7 record. In doubles play, Hollands and Mlakar went 6-5.
Next Week: Arizona will return to Tucson to host Oregon at the Robson Tennis Center Friday, Feb. 25 at 1:30 p.m.