By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online Sports
Stanford juniors Ryan Thacher and Bradley Klahn will be taking divergent paths this summer, with a possible reunion sometime in September. Some of their plans remain in a state of flux.
Wherever they may venture, tennis will always be a part of their journeys. The tandem has played 114 matches while representing Stanford over the past three years, winning 94 of them.
They've also appeared at several pro events, including the SAP Open in San Jose this past February, where they won in the first round.
Their latest achievement came Monday, when the pair took on Texas A&M's third-seeded duo of Jeff Dadamo and Austin Krajicek in the finals of the NCAA doubles tournament at Taube Family Tennis Center.
The Aggies captured the crown, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3, beating the Cardinal combo for the third time this year. And while there was some disappointment for the Stanford duo, both players realized it was simply one more step further along their tennis path.
"We ended on a great note," Klahn said of his team. "We ripped off 13 straight and pushed an undefeated Virginia team to the brink. It was certainly a tough loss but also serves as a reminder that we're right there and we can carry that momentum over to next year."
Thacher, who turned commentator for a day during the team tournament, thought reaching the team quarterfinals was a step in the right direction.
"It was bittersweet but we finally got the hump and got past the Round of 16," he said. "Over the last month or so guys started playing their best tennis. They are a lot of good things ahead."
While Klahn will hit the road with a traveling college team and participate in pro circuit events, Thacher will be concentrating on summer classes at Stanford.
Klahn heads to the USTA Summer Collegiate Team training camp in Florida beginning next Thursday. The program is designed to provide players with exposure to the professional circuit in a team-oriented environment.
The top six American players from the season-ending ITA national singles rankings are eligible for automatic selection to the camp. The remaining players are selected by USTA Player Development staff in conjunction with USTA and college coaches.
"It's very similar to last year," said Klahn, who won the NCAA singles crown as a sophomore. "Just start playing and gaining experience."
The men's team will be coached by Alabama assistant Bo Hodge and Notre Dame assistant Ryan Sachire.
Last year, Klahn traveled with Krajicek, USC's Steve Johnson and Tennessee's Rhyne Williams among others.
Thacher figures to keep track of his partner's progress while staying on campus. He also plans to enter a few local open tournaments on weekends. He could also get together and play a few tournaments with Klahn in September, but that has yet to be decided.
The experience of playing in front of a large crowd at HP Pavilion helped the pair prepare for the NCAA tournament, and playing in front of a raucous home base.
"It does help to have played on this stage, and at HP, in terms of environment and playing in front of lots of people," Thacher said.
Klahn and Thacher, who reached the semifinals in last year's NCAA tournament, completed the season with a 43-8 record, 19-3 in dual matches. They won a pair of tournament championships: Pacific Coast Doubles and the Sherwood Cup.
"We were excited to come out and play this match," Thacher said. "We know Jeff and Austin well and we knew we needed to execute our game plan. We had a good start and went up a break but unfortunately went to the tiebreak, where anything can happen. Give them credit, they played their best match."
Klahn and Thacher were 16-7 against nationally ranked opponents. It's a record that's bound to get only better in the coming year.