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Thursday March 8, 2001

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Wildcats to face top-ranked Stanford, No. 10 Cal in weekend series

By Dan Komyati

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Call it mission impossible. The UA women's tennis team faces a barrier this weekend that would make even Tom Cruise nervous.

The Wildcats travel to Palo Alto, Calif., tomorrow to take on the nation's top team, the undefeated Stanford Cardinal.

On Saturday, Arizona will meet No. 10 California, the lowest-ranked opponent UA will meet in their next five matches.

To call the Wildcats an underdog at Stanford is an understatement.

The Cardinal have won 35 of 36 all-time meetings against UA. The only time the Wildcats defeated the Cardinal was in 1987, when most of this year's Wildcat team was in grade school.

UA head coach Brad Dancer said he - and the Wildcats - are anxious to see how this year's team stacks up against the top squad in the country.

"We've had good days of practice, we're all healthy, and we'll see what we can come up with," Dancer said. "It's an exciting time for us. To come out of this five-match stretch with a winning record would be fabulous."

The Wildcats' challenge will be compounded by the fact that Stanford is in the midst of a 13-match winning streak. They boast the nation's top singles player, Laura Granville, while two other singles players are in the top-30 nationally.

The Cardinal also feature the nation's top doubles pairing, Lauren Kalvaria and Lauren Barnikow.

Despite the task that looms ahead for Arizona, senior Joanna Buczkowska said this year's group is a confident one.

"We are all just really excited and really motivated," Buczkowska said. "We are optimistic for the stretch, we think we'll be able to come out on top in some matches."

On Saturday, the Wildcats will face a Cal team that has also had its way with Arizona recently. They hold a six-match winning streak against the Wildcats, with 22 of 30 matches since 1985.

However, Dancer has an inkling that this Bears squad may have some susceptible areas.

"We've been winning at the top of our lineup, and Cal is pretty strong up top as well, but I think they are a little more vulnerable down low," Dancer explained. "I think we're going to need to have some great play from some spots that we haven't had yet this year in order to be successful."