May 20, 2002
CALIFORNIA AT NATIONALS, TIMES:
Kops-Jones vs. Jecminkova
Monday, 10:00 a.m.
Kops-Jones/Jecminkova vs. Pirsu/Mejia
Tuesday, 10:00 a.m.
Kops-Jones/Scheldt vs. Schlukebir/Tran
Monday, 1:30 p.m.
Tuesday, 2:00 p.m.
INDIVIDUAL COMPETITION BEGINS MONDAY: 64 singles and 32 doubles tandems will begin competition Monday in their quest to win the NCAA Singles and Doubles titles at the NCAA Championship at Stanford University. Representing the University of California in singles will be 22nd-ranked sophomore Raquel Kops-Jones (27-17). Kops-Jones will also join with Jody Scheldt in doubles, where the pair is ranked No. 20 (10-11).
CAL AT THE NCAAS: At least one Golden Bear has qualified for the last 16 consecutive NCAA singles and doubles tournaments. In 1998, '99 and '00 Amy Jensen, now an assistant coach for the Bears, became the only player in NCAA history to capture three consecutive NCAA doubles titles, giving Cal its first national championship.
PREVIEWING THE COMPETITON, SINGLES: Kops-Jones will meet Alena Jecminkova of Kansas State in the first round, which begins Monday at 10:00 a.m. Jecminkova is ranked No. 95 in the nation, boasting a 17-12 singles record, playing exclusively at the top singles spot for KSU. Her biggest win came against No. 37 Mariel Verba of Georgia at the Bulldog Invitational in September, where Jecminkova came away with a 7-6(5), 6-3 victory. Kops-Jones and Jecminkova have had four common opponents in 2002 in Arizona's No. 19 Maja Mlakar (Arizona), Dominique Reynolds (BYU), No. 69 Silvia Tornier (San Diego State) and No. 25 Vladika Uhlirova (Texas). Kops-Jones compiled a 3-1 record against these foes, while Jecminkova only posted a 1-3 mark.
Should Kops-Jones advance, she would meet one of two possible players in the second round Tuesday at 10:00 a.m.: 9/16 seed Alice Pirsu of Pennsylvania or Marlene Mejia of North Carolina. Pirsu is ranked No. 24 in the nation with a 31-10 singles record, playing exclusively at her team's top spot. Pirsu defeated No. 10 Sara Walker (UCLA), 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 at the Omni Hotels National Indoor Championships in October, as well as twice beating Mlakar, 6-4, 6-3 (ITA All-American Championships) and 6-2, 7-5 (William and Mary Invite) in the fall. Mejia is ranked at the No. 36 spot with a 15-10 overall singles record in 2002. Mejia has not won at match since April 7, dropping her last four straight, and leaving her last three unfinished. Her biggest win of the season came over No. 17 Adria Engel of Arizona State, in a 6-0, 6-2 romp.
PREVIEWING THE COMPETITION, DOUBLES: When Kops-Jones and Scheldt take the court Monday at 1:30, they will meet Indiana's combo of Karie Schlukebir and Linda Tran of Indiana, who are ranked No. 36 in the nation with a 34-9 record. The pair played exclusively at the team's top doubles court during the season. The tandem's biggest win of the season came in an 8-4 victory against Arizona's tandem of Debbie Laroque and Mlakar, ranked No. 9. That victory represented the only common opponent between Cal's and Indiana's doubles tandems, as Kops-Jones and Scheldt picked up an 8-5 win over Laroque and Mlakar.
Should Kops-Jones and Scheldt advance to the second round, they would meet either the No. 4 seeded and 8th-ranked team of Carolina Mayorga and Sarah Witten of Kentucky, or Virginia Commonwealth's Martina Nedelkova and Andrea Ondrisova. The 2nd round match begins Tuesday at 2pm. Mayorga and Witten own a 32-10 record on the season. The tandem's biggest win of 2002 came just last week, when they upset No. 1-ranked doubles pairing of Lauren Kalvaria and Gabriella Lastra of Stanford 8-3, helping Kentucky to win the doubles point over the eventual national champion. Nedelkova and Ondrisova, ranked No. 25, boast a 19-5 dual record. The pair were instrumental in unseeded VCU's unprecedented run to the NCAA Quarterfinals last week.