Palo Alto Weekly

Cover Story - May 17, 2006

Stanford tennis history rich with NCAA moments

First-ever combined NCAA men's and women's tournaments will add to the tradition and memories

by Rick Eymer and Keith Peters

Dick Gould set about building a national championship-caliber program from the moment he took over the Stanford men's tennis program from Robert Renker, the winningest coach in the program's history at the time, in 1967.

Years later, as the Director of Tennis in charge of bringing an unprecedented NCAA tournament to Taube Tennis Center, he has accumulated a rich treasure trove of memories.

He's also aware both the men's and women's team members are just beginning to accumulate their own memories.

"I don't think they know how special it is yet," said Gould, who has been working more than a year in bringing the combined men's and women's tournament together at Stanford.

Stanford has hosted four NCAA women's tournaments, and this will be its first men's tournament. Stanford becomes the first school to ever host both at once. The women's team tournament kicks off the action beginning Thursday.

"Let's put it this way," Gould explains, "I don't have any bad memories. I'm proud of the longevity of our success. It could slip away so easily."

Gould continues to accumulate firsts in his career. He was the first tennis coach at Foothill College, winning the school's first two state titles.

At Stanford, Gould memories begin with coaxing the USTA to bring its Junior Davis Cup training camp to Stanford for the first time in 1967. Top junior players had to attend the camp to be chosen for various youth teams.

Tennis legend Barry McKay helped run the camp. Gould, a relative unknown at the time, oversaw operations.

"Every top player was here," Gould said. "I was in the perfect position. I got to know all of them. It was a gold mine for recruiting."

Roscoe Tanner, who attended that first camp, eventually came to Stanford and helped the program win its first NCAA title in 1973.

"He was our first name recruit," Gould said. "He was a program turner. We also had a kid, Rick Fisher, who went to Cubberley High. He had an unbelievable faith in himself. Those two changed my thinking. When we won in 1973 — a team which also counted Sandy Mayer as a member — I could have died and gone to heaven. I wouldn't have cared if we ever won another title. When we played schools like USC or UCLA, I used to tell those guys it would be nice to win a match or two. Rick would say, 'one or two? Coach, we're going to kick their butts. They taught me not to underestimate anybody."

Stanford's first NCAA title was won under a different format in that any team in the country could enter its top four players. It also meant several players had to stay home.

The next year, Mayer was the No. 1 one player and Pat Dupre played No. 2. John Whitlinger, Stanford's current coach, played No. 3.

On the eve of the Pac-10 championships that season, Mayer quit the team over a personal matter and Dupre injured his wrist.

Stanford went into the NCAA tournament with Whitlinger as its top player and Chico Hagey and Jim Delaney suddenly finding themselves playing against the top collegians in the nation. The Cardinal still won the team title as Whitlinger won the singles and teamed with Delaney to capture the doubles.

"That was a remarkable year. We were deep enough to win it," Gould said.

In 1978, Gould had two top players retuning in Bill Maze and Matt Mitchell, each of whom could have played at the top of the ladder. There also happened to be an incoming freshman who had reached the semifinals of Wimbledon the previous summer.

"In comes John McEnroe and I'm wondering how I can keep him out of the top spot," Gould said. "They ended up having to play each other to determine the order. That was a good and a very deep team. We could have self-destructed. It turned out that John was a great team player."

That team became the first of three Gould teams to go undefeated (24-0) and the first at Stanford since the 1943 wartime team won all six of its matches.

Twenty years later, Gould put together another team which was filled with No. 1 players and would finish the finish with a program-best 28-0 record. Team members included Paul Goldstein, Mike Bryan, Bob Bryan, Ryan Wolters and Alex Kim, all of whom eventually won or was in an NCAA singles and/or doubles championship. The team lost two singles points and one doubles point all season, crushing its opponents and sweeping through the NCAA tournament without dropping a point. Geoff Abrams recorded a school-best 26-0 mark that season as the No. 5 singles player.

"That was an entirely different team," Gould said. "They could all play No. 1 but nobody wanted to play each other because they liked each other so much. I've never had a team that together. It was a great team to work with."

Kim, who won the 2000 singles title, played No. 6 singles on that team as a walk-on.

"I remember the titles," Gould said. "But I also remember the ones we should have won. I think we could have won five more titles. I also remember the failures. Tanner spending time in prison, 1981 player Mike Falberg committing suicide; those are the kinds of things which really hurt. They were great people who couldn't get it quite right."

Over the years Stanford has gotten it right far more often than not. The current players and coaches are making their own memories. Here are some of their stories:

Comments

Posted by dan bleckinger, a resident of another community
on Aug 14, 2012 at 7:50 am

i knew roscoe well..& thought it was funny that he outsmarted some for awhile...not smart enuff to really get away, & we played in Quarters of NCAA's at U. of Utah in '70 & could not break serve, he won in 2 tie breaks, not funny 4 me...i studied criminal law & taught Sally Ride, thinking..hey, is this my claim to fame...oh, one more thing...legalize pot!!!!!


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