May 16, 2002
STANFORD, Calif. - The University of California women's tennis team (14-10) was eliminated from the team portion of the NCAA Championships this afternoon. Despite playing a tough, hard-fought match, the Bears were eventually defeated, 4-1, by No. 3 University of Georgia (25-1). For Cal, it was its 18th-consecutive appearance in the NCAA Round of 16.
While the Bears scored first, taking a 1-0 lead after taking the doubles point, Cal was unable to hold on through the singles matches. When the match concluded, No. 53 junior Christina Fusano was knotted up at two with Mariel Verban in the third set on the second court. Sophomore Nicole Havlicek was ahead 5-3 in a second set tiebreaker, and looked to force a third.
"It was a fun match, although it's never fun to lose like that in such a close match" said Fusano, the team captain. "We had our chances-hopefully we'll learn for next year."
Cal kicked off its match in high-style, dominating the Bulldogs' doubles tandems. On court one, No. 22 Fusano and Raquel Kops-Jones (7-0) remained undefeated, continuing a remarkable run which included winning the Pac-10 doubles championship. The tandem doubled up No. 15 Agata Cioroch and Lori Grey at the top spot, 8-4, and were the first off the court, less than an hour into the match. Jieun Jacobs and Jody Scheldt, playing only their third match together, were only two points away from defeating No. 33 Tina Hojnik and Verban, when court three ended in an 8-5 Cal win. Carla Arguelles and Havlicek clinched the point for the Bears in a tough but well-played victory.
Momentum didn't carry over to the singles courts, however, as Georgia took early leads on four out of the six spots. Fusano fell down 4-1 and 5-2 in her first set before roaring back into the match, ultimately taking the first set from No. 37 Verban, 7-5. No. 65 Jacobs had trouble with No. 49 Anne Nguyen on court three, as their match was quickly concluded, 6-1, 6-1.
While Havlicek was locked in a battle with Alex Smith on the sixth court, with both sets coming down to tiebreakers, Cal began to come back into the match. After Fusano's quick rebound at the second spot, Kops-Jones forced a third set on the first court, besting No. 7 Ciorch in the second set, 7-5. Georgia took their first lead of the match, 2-1, after Grey defeated Scheldt at the fourth court, 6-4, 6-4.
The Bears' hopes were diminished, however, when Kops-Jones went down with an injury. Down 1-2 in her third set, Kops-Jones returned a shot while simultaneously letting out a scream. After returning one more, Kops-Jones sat down on the court, and was eventually carried off with a severe leg cramp, and was forced to retire from the match. With no room left for error, the match was ended when Arguelles was defeated by Hojnik, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.
"I thought we competed really hard," said head coach Jan Brogan. "We played excellent doubles. (Georgia) was in a better position to advance than we were, because we were playing hurt. I'd loved to have played this match with our full lineup."
Georgia moves on to play UCLA in tomorrow's quarterfinal round, with the semifinals set for Saturday, and the finals set for Sunday. Individual play will begin Monday. The Bears' season is concluded with a 14-10 record, and a No. 12 ranking.
FROM THE INFIRMARY: Despite having to retire from her match, Kops-Jones is expected to play in both the singles and doubles individual championships next week. She will join Scheldt on the doubles courts, where the pair own a 10-10 record and a No. 20 ranking this season. The two will be Cal's only representatives in the individual championships, as No. 45 Catherine Lynch was forced to withdraw from the tournament following a stress fracture in her leg.
No. 3 Georgia (25-1) 4, No. 12 California (14-10), 1
No. 7 Agata Cioroch (Georgia) def. No. 22 Raquel Kops-Jones (Cal), 6-2, 5-7, 2-1, retired
No. 52 Christina Fusano (Cal) vs. No. 37 Mariel Verban (Georgia), 5-7, 6-4, 2-2, abandoned
No. 49 Anne Nguyen (Georgia) def. No. 65 Jieun Jacobs (Cal), 6-1, 6-1
Lori Grey (Georgia) def. Jody Scheldt (Cal), 6-4, 6-4
Tina Hojnik (Georgia) def. Carla Arguelles (Cal), 4-6, 6-4, 6-4
Nicole Havlicek (Cal) vs. Alex Smith (Georgia), 7-6, 6-6 (5-3), abandoned
No. 22 Fusano/Kops-Jones (Cal) def. No. 15 Cioroch/Grey (Georgia), 8-4
Jacobs/Scheldt (Cal) vs. No. 33 Hojnik/Verban (Georgia), 7-6, abandoned
Arguelles/Havlicek (Cal) def. Nguyen/Smith (Georgia), 8-5