Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - May 14, 2010

Stanford men, women begin NCAA quests at home with opening two rounds of tourney

by Rick Eymer

Stanford sophomore Bradley Klahn gets most of the media attention and deservedly so. He's been playing at the No. 1 spot for the Cardinal men's tennis team the past two years.

Klahn has won 32 of his 40 matches this year overall and reached the Pac-10 championship match in each the doubles and singles tournament for the second consecutive year.

He'll be playing at the top spot Saturday when Stanford (18-5) hosts Quinnipiac (10-4) at noon Saturday in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

There are other solid players in the lineup who have added their own touches to what could become a championship run for seventh-ranked Stanford.

The eight-ranked Stanford women, with their top player Hilary Barte, are also contenders to the title. Barte will be the fourth seed in the NCAA singles tournament and will be joined by Mallory Burdette.

The Cardinal (20-1) opens its run on Friday at 2 p.m. against visiting Fairfield (19-5) and will be looking to extend its 162-match home winning streak.

Barte and Lindsay Burdette, the reigning national doubles runnerup, again will participate in the doubles competition.

Klahn received a 9-16 seed in the men's singles, and he'll team with fellow sophomore Ryan Thacher in the doubles tournament as the No. 2 seed. Junior Alex Clayton is on the alternate list for singles.

Thacher and junior Greg Hirshman each have quietly put together outstanding singles' seasons. They're tied for the team led with 18 dual-match victories, and both have won more than 20 matches overall.

Thacher (25-8) became entrenched at the No. 3 spot in the order and helped Stanford record a 20-4 mark at the position. The only better position is at No. 6, where Hirshman (24-8) has guided the Cardinal to a 21-1 record.

You won't hear Stanford mentioned among the favorites but coach John Whitlinger put together a competitive schedule that should have the team battle-tested and postseason ready. The Cardinal played just five matches against teams that did not qualify for the NCAA tournament.

Stanford has nearly as many wins (13) against the tournament field than the Bobcats have played. All five losses are to NCAA squads. The Cardinal, co-champs in the Pac-10, lost to USC twice, California, Texas and Baylor.

The Stanford women are even more impressive, having won 13 of 14 matches against the NCAA field. The Cardinal regained the Pac-10 title with an unblemished conference season. Its only loss came at UCLA in a nonconference affair. The Bruins won that match, 6-1.

Stanford beat UCLA, 5-2, at home and edged USC and Washington by identical 4-3 scores. The eighth-seeded Cardinal won't be on very many favorite lists but that's never bothered Stanford.

Coach Lele Forood usually has her team peaking at the end of the season and it showed down the stretch as the Cardinal won its last 13 matches. Lindsay Burdette is the only senior on the squad but Barte and fellow junior Carolyn McVeigh have plenty of postseason experience while sophomore Veronica Li and freshmen Mallory Burdette and Stacey Tan have all won critical matches during the year.

Stanford (109-14 in the NCAA tournament) is making its 29th consecutive appearance in the postseason. Fairfield advanced for the second straight year and third overall. The Stags won the MAAC title.

Pepperdine and SMU will also play their first round match at Stanford on Friday. The winners play Saturday with a berth in the Sweet Sixteen on the line.

On the men's side, Pepperdine and Hawaii meet at Taube Tennis Center Saturday morning with the winners playing Sunday for the right to advance to Georgia for the Round of 16.

The Stanford men, on a seven-match winning streak, have two seniors on the roster in Richard Wire and Paul Morrissey. Wire is another 20-match winner for the Cardinal, giving the team five of them. Junior Alex Clayton has a 21-11 overall mark. Denis Lin could join the club with a win Saturday.

Quinnipiac qualified for the field by winning the Northeast Conference Tournament title. The Bobcats are in their fourth postseason in the past seven years. 

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