Stanford tennis teams continue preparations for hosting 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 Thursday when the No. 2 Cardinal women take on St. Mary's while the No. 8 Stanford men play host to Boise State. The men get under way at 1 p.m. while the women, rained out Wednesday, will begin on the back courts at 3 p.m.

Riding a season-best six-match winning streak, the Stanford men (14-5, 4-1 Pac-10) will play their final four matches of the regular season at home. Three of those are against nonconference opponents, with the regular-season finale against California set for April 23.

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.

Stanford is coming off a road sweep of the Pacific Northwest schools over the weekend, defeating Washington, 4-3, and Oregon, 6-1. The Cardinal has not lost a match since a 5-2 setback at Baylor back on March 22.

The win over Oregon was especially impressive because Stanford missed its flight in Washington and didn't settle in upon arriving in Eugene until 6 a.m. The Oregon match began at 11 a.m.

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.

Klahn is ranked No. 10 in this week's singles rankings, joined by Thacher (42) and Alex Clayton (71). Klahn and Thacher are ranked No. 4 in doubles while Clayton and Ted Kelly are No. 69.

Despite being the nation's only undefeated team, No. 2 Stanford (21-0, 7-0 Pac-10) 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.

After facing St. Mary's, Stanford closes out the regular season Saturday at California in a key match with Pac-10 title implications. At 7-0, Stanford has claimed at least a share of the title, while California is 6-1 in league play.

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 Pac-10 Championships are scheduled for April 28-May 1 in Ojai.

-- Palo Alto Online Sports/Brian Risso of Stanford Sports Information

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