Feb. 18, 2013
No. 40 San Diego (2-2) vs. No. 65 Hawaii (2-7)
February 19, 2013 1:30 p.m.
Skip and Cindy Hogan Tennis Center
LAST TIME OUT: The Toreros split a pair of home matches against ranked opponents last week. First the Toreros lost a hard fought battle to No. 5 Stanford 5-2 last Thursday. The final score doesn't indicate how close this match was, which lasted over four hours. The Toreros got singles victories from Marta Stojanovic at the No. 5 and from Cara Brown at the No. 6, and Laura Claus narrowly missed at the No. 2. Claus took Krista Hardebeck, who was ranked as the No. 2 singles player in the nation, to a third set but fell just short at 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (10-8).
The Toreros bounced back to take down No. 28 Arizona 4-2 in another lengthy match last Saturday. Freshman Shani Blecher sealed the victory for USD with an amazing 4-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 comeback at the No. 3 spot. The Toreros faced an uphill battle after losing the doubles point, but were able to take a 3-2 lead after Laura Claus, Marta Stojanovic, and Cara Brown won their singles matches at the No. 2, 5, and 6 spots respectively. The Toreros would need a victory out of either Blecher or Anna Depenau. Blecher wound up coming through with a dramatic come-from-behind victory to seal the victory over Head Coach Sherri Stephens' alma mater.
SCOUTING THE RAINBOW WAHINE: The `Bows were ranked No. 65 in the ITA rankings that came out on February 12... They are in the midst of a four match road swing through California, and their match with USD will be their final one before heading back to Hawaii. They have lost all three of their matches on their current road trip by the score of 4-3 (Fullerton, Riverside, Long Beach State)... Eighth-year man Jun Hernandez coaches Hawaii. Last year Hernandez guided the team to a number of program firsts including its first NCAA Tournament appearance, first WAC championship, and their first ITA team ranking... New athletic director Ben Jay announced this month that effective in June 2013 all Hawaii women's athletic teams will go by Rainbow Wahine, while the men's team will continue to be called the Warriors...The Toreros hold a 9-1 advantage in the all-time series. The two schools played every year from 2007-2010, with the Toreros winning all four matches.
IN THE MIX: The Toreros were ranked as the No. 40 team in the ITA rankings that came out on Feb. 12. The Toreros jumped nine spots from their previous No. 49 ranking after defeating No. 28 Arizona. The Toreros are now the highest ranked WCC team. Pepperdine, who was the tabbed as the preseason conference favorite, has struggled against a difficult schedule and fell to No. 46 after going 1-5 in their first six matches. Saint Mary's (5-3) is ranked one spot ahead of the Waves at No. 45.
GOING AGAINST THE BEST: Three of the Toreros' first four matches have been against top-30 ranked opponents, with two of them coming against teams ranked in the top five. The Toreros are 1-2 in those matches, but they have held their own in every one of them keeping opposing coaches on their toes. After the loss to No. 5 Stanford, Head Coach Sherri Stephens said, "We played the No. 5 team in the country for four hours and it was darn close. The coach from Stanford came up to me afterwards and said `I don't want to play you guys again.' It gives us confidence to be able to go out and play against anyone."
PLUGGING THE PROGRAM: The Toreros 2013 promotional video has been released. The video highlights the program's proud history, the new court surfaces at the Hogan Tennis Center, and the current Toreros tennis players. The video was shot and edited by senior captain Cara Brown. The video can be seen below.
PRESEASON PRAISE: The Toreros were picked to finish third in the 2013 WCC preseason poll and junior Anna Depenau was one of six WCC players named to the preseason WCC all-conference team. The Toreros, who won their first WCC Championship in school history last season, received 54 points overall. No. 49 USD came in behind conference favorite No. 33 Pepperdine and No. 40 Saint Mary's. The Waves, who had three players named to the preseason all conference team, received six first place votes and 61 points overall, while the Gaels received three first place votes and 56 points overall.
2011-12 IN REVIEW: The 2011-12 season was one of the best seasons in USD women's tennis history. The Toreros went 13-9 and 9-2 in WCC play on their way to winning their first WCC Championship in school history. The Toreros finished the season ranked No. 50 and qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive year, where they fell to No. 28 Vanderbilt 4-1. Head Coach Sherri Stephens received WCC Coach of the Year for the third time in her career and for the second straight year after helping the team earn seven All-WCC selections. Highlighting the honors were senior Juliette Coupez and sophomore Anna Depenau, who both earned first-team All-WCC recognition in singles. Junior Laura Claus earned honorable mention honors as well. In doubles, Depenau and senior Maja Sujica took home first-team accolades, while Coupez and Claus were named to the second team.
MEET HEAD COACH Sherri Stephens: Coach Stephens is entering her 29th season with the Toreros and has a career record of 334-299 (.528). Stephens arrived at USD in the fall of 1984 and immediately began to reshape the women's tennis fortunes. During her time coaching the Toreros, she has advanced her team to the NCAA Tournament 11 times (1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2011 and 2021). The Toreros have finished among the nation's top-25 in eight seasons, with a high of #14 in 1989, (18-8 overall record), which was USD's first team to advance to the NCAA's. Stephens has also had five Toreros receive a total of twelve NCAA All-American honors: Tonya Fuller (1991), Laura Richards (1992, 1993), Julie McKeon (1992, 1993, 1994), most recently Zuzana Lesenarova (1997, 1998, 1999, 2000), and Katarina Valkyova (1999, 2000).
Stephens wrapped up her 28th season (2011-12) at USD by leading the Toreros to their first ever WCC championship with a 4-2 win over Pepperdine and garnering her second consecutive WCC Coach of the Year honor. Stephens' squad made their 11th overall trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2011-12 and second in a row. In 2010-11, Stephens helped lead the Toreros to a 19-6 record, the highest win total in her tenure at the University of San Diego, and winning her second-career West Coast Conference Coach of the Year honor. Stephens guided the Toreros to their first NCAA appearance since 1999, defeating UNLV in the first round by a score of 4-2 before falling to host UCLA 4-0 in the second round. The second round finish matched the best NCAA finish in USD history and the fifth time Stephens has led the Toreros to the second round.
Under Stephens' guidance the Toreros came in second in the WCC Championships behind Pepperdine in 2011 and placed all six regulars on the All-WCC singles and doubles teams. The Toreros also posted their best team winning percentage in 2011 with a .760 mark under Stephens, while also setting a new team record with a 14-1 record at Hogan Tennis Center and tying the team record with nine dual match shutouts on the year. Stephens helped guide USD to a team-record 11-consecutive dual match victories and their highest ranking (23rd) since the 1994 season. The Toreros also spent five straight weeks in the Campbell/ITA Top-25 after opening the season with a No. 67 ranking.
In 2010, Stephens notched her 300th career win en route to a 13-12 dual record, a final ITA ranking of #65, and a third place finish at the WCC Championships. Also in 2010, former Torero great, Zuzana Lesenarova, the 1999 NCAA Division I Singles Champion and four-time ITA All-American, was inducted into the WCC Hall of Honor.
With Coach Stephen's leadership, the Toreros have gained respect as a national contender and she has turned the women's tennis program into one of the most respected programs in the nation. Coach Stephens has had two memorable seasons (1998-1999, 1999-2000) with the Toreros. During the 1999-2000 season, USD women's tennis team, which finished with a national ranking of 75 had two individuals appear in the NCAA Division I Women's Tennis Tournament held in Malibu, CA. Zuzana Lesenarova advanced to the third round of the singles tournament, eventually losing to Stanford's Laura Granville in three sets (6-0, 4-6, 6-3). Katarina Valkyova lost in the first round to Cincinnati's Kara Molony in three sets (6-0, 3-6, 6-3). The Lesenarova/ Valkyova duo entered the NCAA doubles tournament ranked No. 1 in the nation, but had to withdraw due to injury. Both Lesenarova and Valkyova earned NCAA All-American honors in 2000.
In the 1998-1999 season, her squad finished 14-11 overall, advancing to the 2nd round of the NCAA's and finishing with a national ranking of 28. Zuzana Lesenarova won the 1999 NCAA Singles Championship, holding her No. 1 ranking all spring and winning three of four ITA Grand Slam events. Kataring Valkyova was a third alternate at the NCAA's and she advanced to the quarters where Lesenarova dealt her a three-set loss. The duo teamed up in doubles play to advance to the NCAA semifinal round. Lesenarova and Valkyova were named 1999 NCAA All-Americans.
Well-respected among her peers in the coaching profession, Stephens has been a featured speaker at several ITA Coaches' Conventions. Twice she has had the privilege of coaching at the Olympic Sports Festival (1993/South, 1995/West), with her 1995 squad winning the gold medal. She was named the 1994 Female Coach of the Year by the USTA, Southern California Section/San Diego District. Sherri has been involved with numerous administrative positions within collegiate tennis such as: the NCAA Ranking Committee, the NCAA Rules Committee, and as Tournament Chairman for the All-American National Championships the past five years. She also runs summer camps every year.
Stephens is a native of Phoenix, Arizona, and was a nationally ranked player on the junior circuit before enrolling at the University of Arizona. After completing her collegiate playing career in 1979, she began her coaching career as an assistant for the Arizona Wildcats.
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