Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - April 15, 2011

The final tuneups are all set

Cardinal men, women closing out regular seasons before hosting the NCAAs

With only two weeks remaining in the regular season for the Stanford tennis teams, the countdown is well under way for the NCAA Championships that will be held at the Taube Family Tennis Stadium from May 19-30.

Preparation for nationals will continue on Saturday when the No. 2 Cardinal women close out their regular season against host Cal in an important Pac-10 Conference match.

At 7-0, Stanford has claimed at least a share of the Pac-10 title, while Cal is 6-1 and needs a win to also earn a share.

Despite being the nation's only undefeated team, Stanford (21-0) finds itself behind No. 1 Florida in the latest edition of the national rankings.

Even though Stanford handed Florida its only loss of the year back in February, this marks the second time the Gators have overtaken the Cardinal for the nation's top spot. The ITA attributes this week's computerized poll shakeup to two factors: record against the nation's top -5 (Florida has four wins, Stanford has two) and road wins versus the nation's top-25 (Florida has three, Stanford has two).

Other than the quirky poll movement, Stanford is doing just fine. Following a 5-2 win over Washington on Senior Day last Saturday, Stanford has now won 40 consecutive contests overall dating to its last loss: a 6-1 setback at UCLA in late February of last year.

Meanwhile, Stanford also extended its NCAA-record home winning streak to 178 consecutive matches (146 regular season, 32 NCAA Tournament). The streak spans 12 seasons and is recognized as the longest active home winning streak among all sports in Division I athletics.

The Cardinal has not lost at the Taube Family Tennis Stadium since a 5-4 setback against No. 4 California back on Feb. 27, 1999.

Stanford was expected to improve upon all those streaks while facing St. Mary's on Thursday in a match that was rained out Wednesday.

Five Stanford players appear in the latest national singles rankings: Hilary Barte (3), Nicole Gibbs (15), Mallory Burdette (19), Kristie Ahn (22) and Stacey Tan (55). In doubles, the Cardinal has two teams ranked: Barte/Burdette (2) and Ahn/Gibbs (37).

The No. 8 Stanford men also played Thursday, against visiting Boise State, and was expected to improve upon their 14-5 season mark. The Cardinal took a season-best six-match winning streak into the nonconference test.

Stanford will host USF on Monday at 3:30 p.m., and then host BYU on Tuesday at 1:30 p.m., before closing out the regular season with a home finale on April 23 against Cal.

The Cardinal moved up four spots in the latest edition of the Campbell/ITA National Rankings. This week's top 10 also includes: No. 1 Virginia, No. 2 Ohio State, No. 3 USC, No. 4 Tennessee, No. 5 Georgia, No. 6 Texas A&M, No. 7 Baylor, No. 9 Pepperdine and No. 10 Duke.

Defending NCAA singles champ Bradley Klahn leads Stanford with a team-best 21-9 overall record while Greg Hirshman's 14-3 dual-match mark leads the club. In doubles play, Stanford's top duo of Klahn and Ryan Thacher has won 13 consecutive matches and is 32-4 overall on the year.

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