Toreros Travel to the Bay for Two Key WCC Matches

USDTOREROSDOTCOM Anna Depenau and the Toreros head North for WCC matches against USF and Santa Clara
Anna Depenau and the Toreros head North for WCC matches against USF and Santa Clara

April 3, 2013


-- No. 53 San Diego (8-8, 3-1) vs. No. 67 San Francisco (11-6, 2-3)

Friday, April 5, 2013, 1:00 p.m.

Golden Gate Park

-- No. 53 San Diego (8-8, 3-1) vs. Santa Clara (7-7, 3-1)

Saturday, April 6, 11:00 a.m.

Deghri Tennis Center

LAST TIME OUT: The Toreros split their last two matches, knocking off conference foe BYU 4-3 and losing to cross-town rival San Diego State 4-3. The Toreros, who were battling illness and injury, were able to take the doubles point against BYU after winning all three matches. Laura Claus, Stephanie Hoffpauir, and Anna Depenau would then earn victories at the top three spots to secure the third conference win of the season.

On Monday, while still battling injuries, the Toreros lost a hard fought battle to No. 56 San Diego State. The Toreros were able to win the doubles point for the fourth time in their last five matches, but ran into trouble in singles play, where the Aztecs won the first four singles matches to clinch the victory. Laura Claus and Marta Stojanovic picked up wins at the No. 1 and 4 spots to bring the final score to 4-3 

SCOUTING THE DONS: San Francisco entered the rankings for the first time of the season this week at No. 67... The Dons have an 11-6 record and have won five of their last six matches... USF is 2-3 in the WCC with wins over BYU and LMU and losses to Santa Clara, Saint Mary's, and Pepperdine... The Dons have one ranked singles player in Andrea Ka, who is ranked No. 78 in the latest ITA poll... USF Head Coach Hilary Somers is in her 13th year with the Dons and was named WCC Coach of the Year in 2003 and 2008... The Toreros are 13-1 all-time against the Dons and won 7-0 last year at home. 



SCOUTING THE BRONCOS: Santa Clara currently holds the same WCC record (3-1) as the Toreros and are 7-7 overall... The Broncos lone conference loss came to preseason favorite Pepperdine 6-1 last week at Malibu... Katie Le is the Broncos only ranked player at No. 28. However, she has lost her last three matches and is 0-3 on the season against ranked opponents...Santa Clara Head Coach Ben Cabell is in his sixth year with the program... The Toreros have never lost to Santa Clara, holding a 12-0 record. They defeated the Broncos 7-0 last year at home.

IN THE MIX: The Toreros dropped two spots in the latest ITA team rankings to No. 53. The Toreros have been in the rankings for the entire season, except for one week. Their highest ranking was No. 40 on February 12... Laura Claus remains at No. 108 in singles... Claus is also ranked in doubles, where her and freshman Shani Blecher sit at No. 58 

NO MORE DOUBLE TROUBLE: The Toreros have had struggles in doubles play for the majority of the season. However, the Toreros have been getting the job done in the last few weeks. USD has won the doubles point in four of their last five matches, despite being forced to mix-up their pairings due to injuries.

TORERO SPOTLIGHT: Freshman Shani Blecher, who is currently ranked No. 58 in doubles (w/ Laur Claus), has caught the eyes of not only the ITA but of as well. Student reporter Michelle Human sat down with Shani and wrote a wonderful piece on her, talking about the transformation from life in Israel to collegiate tennis in San Diego. To read the story, click here.

GOING AGAINST THE BEST: Eleven of the Toreros sixteen matches have come against ranked opponents, with four of them coming against teams ranked in the top ten. The Toreros are 3-8 in those matches, most recently knocking off No. 6 Nebraska who had won ten matches in a row. The win gives the Toreros a huge boost of confidence just in time for conference play "More than anything, this proves to the girls what we kind of knew, that we are just as good as most of the teams in the nation. We've been tested several times this year by some top teams, but we haven't quite broken through," Stephens said after win over Nebraska. "I think the girls

WCC WATCH: The WCC now has four teams ranked by the ITA. Saint Mary's (10-7, 5-0), who was picked the finish second in the preseason poll, holds the highest ranking at No. 40. USD (8-8, 3-1) sits behind them at No. 53. San Francisco (11-6, 2-3) entered the rankings for the first time this season at 67, and LMU (7-7, 0-2) re-entered the poll at No. 73 after a week outside of the rankings. Pepperdine (5-10, 2-0), who is not currently in the rankings, always is a threat in the WCC. The Waves struggled early on in the season but are heating up at the right time. After starting out the season 0-9, the Waves have won five of their last six matches.

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. 64 USD came in behind conference favorite Pepperdine (who is now 0-8) and Saint Mary's (7-6, 3-0). 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.