By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online Sports
The Streak is once again on the line and Stanford has no intention of letting it go down without a fight. After all, it's been almost 12 years since The Streak began and the Cardinal women's tennis team has survived plenty of close calls over the years.
Top-ranked Stanford (3-0) hosts No. 5 UCLA (4-0) at noon Saturday. For a nonconference match, this is about as big as it gets.
The Bruins handed Stanford its only loss last year and it came in the first meeting of the season by a 6-1 score on the road. The Cardinal came back to beat UCLA later in the year en route
to the national title.
Stanford won its first three matches, the last two in the ITA Kickoff Weekend, by a 17-1 margin. Oklahoma earned the doubles point, the first time the Cardinal lost the doubles point at home in nearly two years.
The Bruins, who play Friday at California, won their first four matches by a 20-2 margin as both teams qualified for the final four rounds of the ITA National Team Indoor Championships that begins Feb. 18 in Charlottesville, Va. The draw will be held Feb. 15, using the latest rankings for seeding purposes.
Stanford sophomore Mallory Burdette is expected to play against UCLA after missing two matches as a precautionary measure with a shoulder problem.
If Burdette plays at the No. 2 spot, that would set up a match between two of the top freshmen in the country in Stanford's Kristie Ahn and UCLA's Courtney Dolehide at No. 3 singles.
Stanford senior Hilary Barte likely will meet UCLA junior McCall Jones in the top singles match.
"We're definitely not at our best, but everyone is in the same boat," UCLA coach Stella Sampras Webster said. "It's a great opportunity for us. We're just going to go up there and hope to do our best. Hopefully we will have a chance to beat both teams."
Burdette's return would give Cardinal coach Lele Forood the kind of problem every coach would like to have: what to do at the bottom of the singles ladder, where senior Carolyn McVeigh and junior Veronica Li are two of the team's most experienced players.
Freshman Nicole Gibbs has been playing in the No. 3 slot with Burdette out and sophomore Stacey Tan was at No. 4.
Stanford has not lost at the Taube Tennis Center since Feb. 27, 1999, before the current scoring structure was put in place. California ended what was then a school record 42-match home winning streak.
The current streak is up to 167 matches, the longest running streak of any sport in NCAA Division I athletics.
Women's water polo
Top-ranked Stanford opened the season with four victories at the Michigan Invitational two weeks ago. The Cardinal hopes to continue that success this weekend in the Stanford Invitational.
Stanford opens play Saturday with an 8:30 a.m. contest against Arizona State and then meets California at 4 p.m. The tournament continues Sunday with an 8 a.m. match against San Jose State and concludes with the placement games in the afternoon. The title match is scheduled for 3 p.m.
The Cardinal outscored its first four opponents by 57-11 margin, with junior Pallavi Menon, a Sacred Heart Prep grad, leading the way with nine goals. Junior Melissa Seidemann, a member of the U.S. senior team, has seven goals.
Amber Oland, Kate Baldoni and Kim Hall shared goalkeeping duties in Michigan, combining for a 2.75 goals against average and a 7.50 saves average.
The tournament will bring together a lot of familiar faces from the local prep ranks. In addition to Stanford's Menon, Kim Krueger (Menlo School) and Vee Dunlevie (Sacred Heart Prep), UCLA has Megan Burmeister (Menlo), KK Clark (SHP) and Rebecca Dorst (Menlo-Atherton); Cal has Lindsay Dorst (SHP); San Jose State has Adriana Vogt (SHP); USC has Constance Hiller (Priory); and Arizona State includes Morgan Leech (M-A).
Third-ranked Stanford hosts its final two meets of the season this weekend, meeting Cal State Bakersfield at 2 p.m. Friday and swimming against Pac-10 opponent USC at 1 p.m. Saturday.
The Cardinal (4-0) swept a pair of meets at Arizona State and Arizona last weekend and heads into this weekend with an eye toward the Pac-10 championships in Long Beach coming up next month.
Austin Staab's return has bolstered Stanford's chances to compete for a national title. The school recordholder in the 100 fly, he was also the NCAA champion in the event two years ago.
Staab took a leave of absence for personal reasons last year.
Other seniors participating in their final home meet are Jake Allen, Josh Charmin-Aker, Alex Coville, John Criste, Brent Eichenseer and David Mosko.
Redshirt senior Allyse Ishino, fresh off a top performance in Stanford's win at Utah last week, leads the second-ranked Cardinal (8-0) into Saturday's 4 p.m. performance against visiting San Jose State.
Ishino was named Pac-10 Gymnast of the Week after recording a career-best all-around score and winning three events.
In its first competitive action since November, Stanford travels to the Arizona Wildcat Invitational for a three-day tournament that begins Monday at the Arizona National Golf Club in Tucson.
The Cardinal finished in a tie for sixth at the Pac-10-SEC Challenge in November at Stanford Golf Course.