Women's Tennis: Bears Surge Into Season's Final Stretch

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The No. 15 Cal women's tennis team has always prided itself in ending the season strong.

With last week's 4-3 upset of No. 12 USC, the Bears are starting to heat up for the finish.

The surge couldn't have come at a better time.

The Bears' last four matches are against conference rivals and will count toward conference records.

The matches can also potentially help or hinder the Bears' momentum into the Pac-10 and NCAA Championships.

The Bears (11-6, 2-2 in the Pac-10) start the four-match stint by taking on No. 11 Arizona State (12-5, 3-2) today at 1:30 p.m., followed by a meeting with Arizona tomorrow at noon.

Cal will be looking to avenge a loss to ASU earlier this season. When the teams last met, the Sun Devils edged the Bears 4-3 in Tempe, Ariz.

"We definitely started playing better in the last couple weeks," Cal captain Christina Fusano said. "I think everyone has stepped it up a level."

With last week's win over the Trojans, the Bears moved from No. 21 to No. 15 in the latest Intercollegiate Tennis Association's poll.

The Bears will gain much-needed depth with the return of Jieun Jacobs.

Jacobs was scratched from singles play last week against USC and UCLA due to a lung ailment.

Fusano, who played most of last year on court No. 2, was on No. 3 last week against the Trojans. With Jacobs' return, Fusano will likely move down to No. 4.

"It's obviously a different feel from last year, but I don't think the number really matters," Fusano said. "At this point I just want to go out there and win a match."

Raquel-Kops Jones, who has held her own against the country's elite players on court No. 1, will have the pleasure of taking on the Sun Devils' top player, Adria Engel. Engel has compiled an 11-6 record this season and beat Kops-Jones 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 in their last meeting.

ASU's Dora Krstulovic will also be a dangerous opponent. Krstulovic has won her last seven games and will be taking on Catherine Lynch on court No. 2.

Engel and Krstulovic also combine to form Arizona State's top doubles team.

Last week, the Bears got solid production from all their doubles teams to edge the Trojans. The Bears will need the same sort of doubles play if they hope to compete against the Sun Devils.

"The doubles point for us is a real momentum-swinger," Fusano said. "It'll be really important to get that doubles point."

The doubles matches will be a real test for the Bears as they face off against a highly touted Arizona State doubles contingent.

"They have good doubles all the way around," Fusano said.

On Saturday, the Bears will play host to Arizona. In their last meeting, the Bears dominated the Wildcats with a 6-1 performance.

The two matches will be the Bears' final appearances at home this season.


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