NORTHRIDGE, Calif. ---
The Cal State Northridge women's tennis team enters the 2013 Big West Tournament in Indian Wells, Calif., this weekend as the sixth seed in the 10 team field that will compete for a berth in the NCAA Tournament. The Matadors will open play Friday at 8 a.m. in a quarterfinal contest against No. 3 UC Santa Barbara, a Gaucho squad that took a 6-1 victory over CSUN in early February.
At 10-10 overall and 4-5 in the Big West, the Matadors are a much different team now than the one that lost earlier to UCSB. Since then, CSUN has picked up important league wins against Pacific, UC Davis and at Cal Poly. That fact is not lost on the Matadors' head coach, Gary Victor.
"I feel we have a really good chance of pulling an upset over UC Santa Barbara," Victor said. "Overall, we have played pretty well and we feel loose. I think the pressure will be on UCSB. They beat us at our place, winning the doubles point and taking a couple of close three-set decisions. But I feel we are a much better team now. As long as we're healthy, I feel we have a great shot at winning on Friday."
Victor figures the doubles point will be an important factor for the Matadors. CSUN's No. 1 team of seniors Anna Yang and Sabrina Man-Son-Hing finished the season at 13-6 overall, but on a six-match losing streak after facing some stiff competition.
"Doubles is always a big point for us. Our close matches, whether against Cal State Fullerton, UC Davis, Cal Poly or Pacific, all hinged on that doubles point," Victor said. "I feel like our one team has got it back together and they're a little healthier now. They went through a rough stretch against some very talented teams, but I feel their confidence is back. They are still one of the top five doubles teams in the league."
The No. 2 doubles team has been Lorraine Cheung and Maria Pistalu for the majority of the season. The duo enters Friday at 12-8. At No. 3, the Matadors have used several combinations, but Alexis Marquez and Jessica Warren won an important 8-3 decision at Cal Poly and may see the court as Northridge's third unit.
In singles, seniors Pistalu and Yang each had solid seasons. Pistalu went 8-10 overall, but 5-4 against league competition at the No. 1 draw. In the second draw, Yang went a team-best 11-8 on the season and posted a 4-4 mark against Big West opponents.
Victor will also have reliable veterans Man-Son-Hing (6-12 overall record) and Cheung (9-8 overall) to round out the top four singles matches. The fifth and sixth draw should prove to be important to CSUN's chances on Friday.
Freshman Jessica Warren went 8-8 on the season and 4-4 in Big West play. She picked up impressive wins over Pacific, UC Davis and Cal Poly and figures to play at No. 5.
"Jessica has been one our major difference makers," Victor said. "She has played well against several impressive juniors this year and when she's right, she could beat just about anyone in our conference in the fifth draw."
The winner of the UCSB-CSUN contest will advance to face the winner of Long Beach State-UC Davis/UC Riverside. That contest will take place on Saturday, April 27.
Below is a feature story on the Matadors' top two doubles team, produced and provided here courtesey of The CSUN Daily Sundial.