The Stanford women's tennis team will start the season ranked No. 1 in the nation, but coach Lele Forood knows it's more important to finish in that position.
The Cardinal did just that last season following a 4-3 victory over No. 2 Florida in the championship match of the 2010 NCAA Women's Team Tournament.
The NCAA title was Stanford's 16th and the first since a dominant three-year title run ended in 2006. That effort earned the Cardinal a near unanimous vote and the No. 1 spot in the Campbell/ITA College Tennis Rankings on Tuesday.
Stanford, the most storied program in women's tennis history, will also be hosting the NCAA Championships later this spring with a chance to add title No. 17 to its impressive collection.
There is little doubt that the Cardinal will return as the favorites this season.
However, the consensus in the men's poll indicates a year-long battle for the coveted top spot as Virginia jumped two spots from its No. 3 finish in the final spring 2010 rankings, barely outnumbering the two-time defending USC Trojans for the first No. 1 ranking of 2011.
The Virginia players had a very momentous fall during ITA National Championship play. For only the third time in the 32-year history and first time in two decades of the D'Novo/ITA Men's All-American Championships, one team advanced three different players into the singles quarterfinals, while also capturing the D'Novo/ITA Men's All-American Doubles title.
The Cavs also had five players selected to participate in the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships, which was more than any other men's or women's participating squad. They will be challenged by a USC team looking to capture its third straight NCAA team title and record 18th of all-time.
Stanford, which features defending NCAA singles champ Bradley Klahn, opens 2011 ranked No. 8. USC is No. 2 and UCLA is No. 6. On the women's side, Stanford is followed by Florida, Baylor, Notre Dame, UCLA, North Carolina, Duke, Michigan, Northwestern and California.
Five different conferences placed at least one team in the top 10, with the Big 12 and Pac-10 leading the way with three teams each featured in the top men's 10 spots. For the women, five different conferences also placed at least one team in the top 10, with the Pac-10 leading the way with three California teams included.
An incredible 16 schools have both their men's and women's programs ranked inside this week's top 25. This total exceeds all of the weeks recorded in last year's weekly Campbell/ITA Division I Team Rankings.
Only four schools have both their men's and women's teams ranked among the top 10 -- Stanford, Florida, Baylor and UCLA.