This Week for the Wildcats: No. 41 Arizona (5-0) will travel to the Southeast to face No. 48 South Alabama (3-0) and No. 15 Tulane (2-3). The Wildcats will face the Jaguars at 11 a.m. (CST) Friday, Feb. 11, before taking on the Green Wave at noon (CST) on Saturday, Feb. 12.
Last Time Out: The No. 39 Wildcats won a pair of matches against teams from the West Coast Conference to improve to 5-0 on the season. Last Friday, Arizona squeaked by with a 4-3 victory over unranked-Loyola Marymount. Arizona followed up with a convincing 7-0 win over No. 51 San Diego the next day. Arizona’s 5-0 start is the team’s best since 1997. The Wildcats have started their season 7-0 three times in 1985, 1995 and 1997.
Against South Alabama: Friday’s match will be the first match between the two teams since Arizona defeated the Jaguars 9-0 in the 1987 season opener.
Scouting the Jaguars: Last season’s Sun Belt Conference runner-up has opened their 2005 campaign 3-0, without having played a ranked team. Head Coach Jaco Keyser returns all 12 of his players following a 12-12 record last year. No Arizona or South Alabama players have competed against each other this year.
Against Tulane: Arizona faced the Green Wave at home last season, dropping the match 4-3. The Wildcats split the singles matches with Tulane, but lost the doubles point. Of Arizona’s winning singles players that day, each has been in the lineup this season, while none of the three losing players have played a singles match in team competition this season. In addition, Arizona has not lost a doubles point this year.
Prior to last season’s match, the two programs faced each other only once, when Arizona won 5-2 in 2001.
Scouting the Green Wave: Tulane, which started the year ranked ninth, won each of its first two matches of the year, both against ranked teams, before losing to No. 13 North Carolina and No. 14 Texas. Tulane was scheduled to face No. 7 Clemson this past week, but forfeited the match to “deal with team issues,” according to Tulane Director of Athletics Rick Dickson.
Tulane’s lineup features five ranked singles players and two ranked doubles pairs. Despite their depth in singles, no player from the Green Wave is ranked better than No. 50.
The Doubles Point: In each of its five matches this year, Arizona has won the doubles point. The point, which is won when a team has won two of the three doubles matches, ended up being the difference in 4-3 wins against Sacramento State and Loyola Marymount.
Even at the Top: Senior Dianne Hollands and junior Stephanie Balzert are tied for the team lead with 15 singles victories each, while freshman Camelia Todorova is not far behind with 13 wins. Of the six players with more than seven singles matches played each boasts a winning percentage between .565 and .666.
Wildcats in the Rankings: Dianne Hollands began the season ranked No. 23, while senior 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 stay on the road to face familiar foes Southern California and UCLA, Feb. 18 and 19, respectively.