Host Cal Wolfs Down New Mexico

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When New Mexico's Ana Friganovic sarcastically yelled "Merry Christmas," after winning a point, Cal women's tennis player Anita Kurimay simply smiled and shrugged her shoulders.

After all, Kurimay knew it was too early for her opponent to celebrate the match. And like the Grinch who stole Christmas, Kurimay surprised her opponent yesterday afternoon, coming from behind to win the set, 7-5, and eventually the match 7-5, 6-0.

"I was able to mix up shots and get her out of rhythm," Kurimay said. "My shots were unexpected and it helped me come up with a win."

Along with her teammates, Kurimay was not about to give any gifts to the Lobos. Showing no mercy, Cal (10-3, 4-3 in the Pac-10) crushed New Mexico, 7-1, yesterday at Hellman Tennis Center.

"I was trying to work on keeping my energy high for this game," Kurimay said.

Cal coach Jan Brogan was also proud of the comebacks that her other players made. Both Christina Fusano and Karoline Borgersen bounced back from huge deficits, which eventually helped the Bears pull out the win.

"I was especially proud of the way Karoline played after she came from down five-love in the second set to win it," Brogan said. "She could have let it go but instead she really closed up her focus."

Also in singles, freshman Morisa Yang dominated the No. 5 court, not allowing Nicoleta Spilca more than two points in the second set and defeating her, 6-1, 6-2.

"I basically stayed confident the whole match taking advantage of shortballs," Yang said.

The only Cal loss in singles came at the No. 4 court, where Lisa Swierniak lost to Dominika Gerwin, 6-3, 6-3. Brogan was not particularly displeased with her junior's performance.

"It wasn't that Lisa played badly," Brogan said. "The other girl just played better."

Since the final outcome had already been decided - the Bears had won five of the six match points in singles - the teams played only two doubles matches instead of the usual three.

Both of Cal's doubles teams fiercely controlled the net and defeated New Mexico. Kurimay and Borgersen defeated the Lobos' Friganovik and Ashley Hedberg, 8-5, and Jenny Lee and Emeka Mayes took care of Caroline Pollock and Gerwin, 8-4.

Combined with their astute offensive strategy and their opponents series of unforced errors, the Bears were able to dominate the Lobos in the doubles matches.

"Doubles is like a jigsaw puzzle - you have to find the right fit," Mayes said. "Once you do you can feed off each other offensively."

The Bears hope to continue their home winning streak when they meet No. 22 Arkansas Sunday at 1:30 p.m.

The Bears have had history on their side, winning the last match against the Razorbacks, 6-0, in 1993. Furthermore, the Razorbacks have been unable to conquer a team with a higher ranking than they possess this season.

Even so, Cal still anticipates the match to be the most grueling of the week. The team is a little wary about facing Arkansas without Claire Curran in the No. 3 spot, especially since the Razorbacks resemble previous opponent Washington, which has strong top singles players.

"I think of Arkansas as similar to Washington," Brogan said. "They have really tough opponents in the first and second courts."

Cal's Kurimay, who is still new to the team's No. 1 spot, will face Chin Bee Khoo, who has complied a 22-9 record this year and is ranked No. 12 in the nation.

In light of the precarious top matchups, the Bears will have to count on their depth in the bottom of the lineup.

"We will almost always be favored, but we can't take anyone for granted because the other teams are especially pumped and juiced to play us," Lee said. "They fight their guts out."


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