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Nittany Lions Ready to Close Out Non-Conference Schedule Against South Florida and SMU

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Katia Blik earned her second win of the season at No. 1 singles last Sunday against West Virginia.

March 8, 2014

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions conclude their non-conference schedule against South Florida and Southern Methodist University over spring break in Tampa, Fla. They will face the host USF Bulls at 11 a.m. Monday, March 10 at the USF Varsity Tennis Complex and the SMU Mustangs at noon the following day.

The Nittany Lions ended their seven-game losing skid by knocking off West Virginia at home, 6-1. With the victory the Nittany Lions improved to 21-1 all-time against the Mountaineers. After falling down 1-0 early after conceding the doubles point, the Nittany Lions won every set and match in singles to capture the victory. 

Katia Blik (Moscow, Russia) earned her first win since the opening weekend knocking off Kaja Mrgole in No. 1 singles, 6-1, 6-2, while Taylor Shukow ended her six-game skid with a dominating 6-1, 6-2 win over Sophie Allen-Fisher. Katherine Whiteaway (Sawbrigeworth, England) controlled her match at No. 5 singles, topping Irinka Toidze 6-1, 6-1. Dasha Sapogova (Minsk, Belarus), Marie-Frederique Bedard (Montreal, Canada) and Carmen Sandor (Toronto, Canada) also compiled victories for Penn State in the match. 


  • With her 6-4, 6-2 victory against Vivian Tsui of West Virginia on Sunday Bedard became the first Nittany Lion to eclipse 10 wins this season
  • All seven of the Nittany Lions losses have come to teams currently ranked in the ITA Team Poll. Five of those seven were ranked when the match took place.
  • Sandor sits at #13 in Penn State's record books for career singles victories with 47. She needs one more to tie Judy Wang (1999-2003) for 12th all-time in school history.
  • Bedard is currently ranked 17th all-time in Penn State history with 42 career singles victories tied with Sarah Spence (2001-2005).
  • Chelsea Utting (Peachtree City, Ga.) currently ranks 15th all-time with 44 doubles wins as a Nittany Lion, three away from tying Tricia Lehman (1992-1996) for 14th in program history.
  • Bedard ranks 26th in team history tied with Teresa Whiteside with 31 career doubles victories. She needs one more win to move into the 24th spot with Leigh Ann Merryman (2002-2004) and Robyn Reagan (1992-1996).
  • Sandor is 17th all-time in Penn State history tied with Lisa Thomas (1986-1990) with 41 doubles victories. She needs one win to move into the 16th spot in Nittany Lions history tying Dorothy Dohanics (2005-2009).
  • Sapogova leads the Nittany Lions with eight singles victories on the spring and only trails Bedard by one win on the entire season despite not being on campus in the fall. The last Nittany Lion freshman to lead the team in singles wins was Jenny Shular in 2004-2005. 



In the ITA Poll released on March 4, the Nittany Lions did not find themselves back into the team rankings despite knocking off West Virginia last weekend. Both upcoming opponents have been ranked sometime during this season, but South Florida is the one currently ranked with SMU having fallen out during their eight-game losing streak. No new singles or doubles rankings were released this week.

The Nittany Lions' schedule includes nine opponents ranked in the current ITA Top 75, six of which are Big Ten opponents. When Penn State heads south to Tampa, Fla. next week they will face their sixth ranked opponent of the season in South Florida. Two of the Nittany Lions losses came to teams currently in the ITA Team Poll but were not ranked at the time of the match. Northwestern leads the way for the Big Ten, coming in at No. 7 in the nation this week.

The Bulls will enter Monday's match with Penn State having played two matches in three days. On Friday they shutout St. John's, 7-0, and they will square off against Old Dominion at 11 a.m. on Sunday. South Florida is ranked No. 62 in the most recent ITA Poll bringing in a 9-3 record with all three losses coming on the road against ranked opponents. After starting the season 3-3 the Bulls are currently in the midst of a six-game win streak.

South Florida features five players already with double-digit win totals in singles having participated in their 12 dual matches as well as the Michigan Invitational in Ann Arbor, Mich. Vera Bessonova, Olga Martinez and Loreta Alonso-Martinez are all tied for the team-lead with 13 singles victories. The Bulls sport a 77-43 (.642) record in singles and 19-16 (.543) doubles record heading into the weekend. 

The Nittany Lions have only met South Florida once before, dropping the 2009 meeting, 7-0. In the match, Lauren McCarthy (Danbury, Conn.) and Denise Zobeideh (Weston, Fla.) won their match at No. 3 doubles but the Bulls were able to take the point and sweep the Nittany Lions in singles for a 7-0 win.

The Southern Methodist Mustangs bring a 4-8 record with them into their matchup with the Nittany Lions in Tampa. Five of their eight losses have come at the hands of ranked teams, two of which were away from Dallas. The Mustangs are in the middle of their first season as a member of the American Athletic Conference and are coming off of their first conference win of the season, a 7-0 drubbing of Temple.

Sophomore Vaszilisza Bulgakova leads a young Mustangs team that features only one junior and no seniors into Florida with a 4-4 record playing at the No. 1 spot against tough competition early in the season. Teammate Hristina Dishkova leads the team in singles wins during the fall and spring seasons with 15 including a team-high seven in the spring while playing at No. 1, 2 and 4. Freshman Dasha Sharapova brings in a half dozen wins on the spring in singles play having played at No. 2 and No. 3 singles while freshman Anna Kate Anderson enters with a four-game win streak, the longest current streak on the team.

The Nittany Lions and Mustangs have only met once prior with SMU coming away with a 7-0 shutout victory in 2010. SMU won all three doubles matches to earn the match's first point. Petra Januskova (Ottawa, Canada), ranked No. 66 at the time, took No. 59 Marta Lesniak to a super tiebreaker after splitting the first two sets, but Lesniak was able to win taking it 10-5. SMU was able to win the other five matches in straight sets.

The Nittany Lions will return north and head to East Lansing, Mich. to face the Michigan State Spartans on Friday, March 21 at 2 p.m. in their first road conference match of the season. They will return home to face the Michigan Wolverines on Sunday ay 11 a.m.


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