Toreros Aim For Another WCC Championship

USDTOREROSDOTCOM Stephanie Hoffpauir is one of three Torero seniors
USDTOREROSDOTCOM
Stephanie Hoffpauir is one of three Torero seniors
USDTOREROSDOTCOM

April 22, 2013

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First Round of the 2013 WCC Tournament

No. 4 San Diego (10-10, 5-3) vs. No. 9 Gonzaga (9-12, 0-8)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013, 9:30 a.m.

If USD advances, they will face the winner of No. 5 San Francisco (13-8, 4-4) vs. No. 8 Portland (8-13, 1-7) on Thursday at 9:30 a.m.

All matches will take place at 9:30 a.m. at the Barnes Tennis Center (4490 W Point Loma Blvd, San Diego, CA 92107)

LAST TIME OUT: The Toreros, who had last week off, split their last two home matches with LMU and Pepperdine. The Toreros outlasted LMU 4-3 on April 12 when senior Laura Claus came through in the clutch with a 7-6 (7-0), 6-7 (4-7), 6-1 win at the No. 1. In the match, Anna Depenau snapped the Lions’ Kristine Kouyoumijan’s 12 match win streak with a 6-4, 6-2 victory at the No. 4. Mikayla Morkel-Brink also picked up a singles win in the match, and the Toreros earned the doubles point after winning at the No. 2 and 3 spots.

The following day, which was the last home match for Laura Claus, Stephanie Hoffpauir, and Cara Brown, the Toreros lost a hard fought battle to Pepperdine 4-3. After losing the doubles point and the first two singles matches, the Toreros found themselves in a 3-0 hole. However, the Toreros would rally to tie it up after Laura Claus, Anna Depenau, and Marta Stojanovic won their singles matches. The match came down to the third set at the No. 6 spot, where Pepperdine’s Danielle Feneridis outlasted Cara Brown 6-3, 6-7 (3-7), 6-1 to secure the win for the Waves.

SCOUTING THE BULLDOGS: The Zags went 9-4 in the non-conference portion of their schedule, but struggled mightily in WCC play and went 0-8 to bring their final regular season record to 9-12… The Toreros 6-1 road win over the Zags started their current eight-match losing streak. In that match, the Toreros won the doubles point after winning at the No. 1 (Claus/Blecher) and No. 3 (Brown/Stojanovic) spots, and then went on to win five of the six singles matches… The Zags are led by Franziska Koehler and Samantha Poyles in singles play. Kohler is 10-4 overall and 8-1 at the No. 6 spot, while Poyles is 13-6 overall and 10-4 at the No. 4… The Bulldogs are 27-27 in doubles matches… The Zags are 0-5 against ranked opponents… Gonzaga coach D.J. Gurule is in his sixth season as the Zags head coach. Last year he had a program-best four players earn All-WCC Honors… The Toreros are 5-0 all-time against Gonzaga.

CLOSING TIME: This week’s WCC Tournament could mark the last matches in the career of three Torero seniors. Laura Claus, Stephanie Hoffpauir, and Cara Brown are all hoping to extend their careers by either winning the WCC Tournament or by qualifying for the NCAA Tournament. No matter how or when the season ends, these three Toreros have already left their mark on the program through their individual success and by helping the team win their ever WCC Championship last season.

Claus, a Wiesbaden, Germany native, holds a 73-37 (.664) career record in singles and a 58-41 (.586) mark in doubles. Her 73 singles wins are good for eighth all-time while her 58 double wins put her in ninth all-time in school history. Claus put together an incredible 2010-11 season where she went 24-6 in singles (20-4 in dual matches), which included an outstanding 18-2 mark at the No. 3 spot. Claus has been an All-WCC honoree every year thus far and figures to be again this season.

Hoffpauir (Escondido, Calif.) transferred from UCLA after going 25-9 in singles during her freshman season. She currently holds a 57-53 career singles record and is exactly .500 in doubles play at 43-43. Hoffpauir was named All-WCC First Team in doubles (w/ Juliette Coupez) and Second Team in singles in 2011. She also earned broke into the ITA rankings in 2011, with her highest mark coming at No. 66 in singles (Feb. 14, 2011) and No. 57 in doubles (April 12, 2011).

Brown also transferred to USD after a freshman season in the PAC-10. Brown, who is from South Bend, Ind., was at Washington State before coming to San Diego. She is currently enjoying her best season of her career (13-9 in singles) and has a career record of 28-22 in singles and 26-24 in doubles.

IN THE MIX: The Toreros dropped two spots to No. 56 in the latest ITA rankings The Toreros have been in the rankings for the entire season, except for one week. Their highest ranking was No. 40 on February 12… Senior Laura Claus remains in the singles rankings at No. 79… Claus is also ranked in doubles, where her and freshman Shani Blecher sit at No. 68. 

SERBIN’ IT UP: Freshman Marta Stojanovic (Belgrade, Serbia) holds the team’s highest singles winning percentage with her 12-5 record. After starting the season as the Toreros No. 5, Stojanovic was moved to the No. 4 after posting a 6-2 record at the No. 5. Stojanovic would then go 4-1 at the No. 4, which earned her four appearances at the No. 3, where she went 2-2.

THREE’S A CROWD: Pepperdine, Saint Mary’s, and Santa Clara all tied for first with a 7-1 WCC record. All three teams are considered co-champions, but St. Mary’s will received the No. 1 seed and the double-bye since they are the highest ranked team 

MAGICAL RIDE:  Last season the Toreros entered the WCC Tournament with a 10-9 record. USD got hot at the right time and won three matches in three days on their way to winning their first WCC Championship in school history. This year’s team is trying to duplicate last year’s postseason success. The Toreros have nearly an identical regular season record at 10-10, but this year they would have to win four matches in four days to repeat as Tournament champions. As always Pepperdine, who has won the league 22 times in the past 25 years, stands in the Toreros way.

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.