Despite owning victories over each of the top two seeds, the Stanford women's tennis team finds itself seeded 15th for the NCAA tournament, which opens May 13 at 16 campus sites across the nation, including Stanford's Taube Family Tennis Center. The seeding is warranted.
Stanford takes on Texas A&M Corpus Christi (24-0) in the first round. Denver (21-2) and Texas A&M (16-10) also meet at Stanford. The winners face each other in the second round with a trip to Tulsa for the national championship at stake.
Call it the case of the different lineups, as the Cardinal (14-5) makes its 35th consecutive postseason appearance. Stanford has yet to lose in the first round.
Junior Carol Zhao played, as an amateur, on the pro circuit through March, available for one match during that time: a victory over second-seeded Florida.
With Zhao in the lineup, Stanford won four of five matches, including a split with top-ranked and overall No. 1 seed California.
Overall, the Cardinal is 5-5 against the field, with early-season losses to Mississippi and Vanderbilt.
It usually doesn't matter where the Cardinal is seeded. When its on top of its game, opponents find it hard to slow down Stanford.
The Cardinal has, incredibly, won 10 of its last 12 NCAA tournament matches when seeded lower than its opponent.
The most storied program in college tennis with 18 national championships (17 NCAA, 1 AIAW), Stanford captured its 25th conference crown and first since 2012 after defeating USC to secure this year's Pac-12 title.
It was yet another impressive late-season run, considering the Cardinal ranked fifth in the conference standings and was in danger of dropping outside the top 20 in late March.
Stanford owns a 136-18 all-time record in the postseason since the NCAA Tournament went to its present format in 1982.
Stanford must be considered a national championship contender regardless of seed. Three years ago, the 12th-seeded Cardinal became the lowest-seeded team to win an NCAA title, knocking off No. 5 USC, No. 4 Georgia and No. 1 Florida before knocking off No. 3 Texas A&M in the final.
That championship also extended Stanford's record streak of 37 years in a row with at least one NCAA title and paved the way for a 19th consecutive Directors' Cup. Three years earlier, Stanford captured the 2010 NCAA championship as a No. 8 seed.
All first and second round matches are played at campus sites. The final 16 teams compete in Tulsa, beginning Thursday, May 19. The national championship matches are set for Tuesday, May 24.
No. 27 Stanford (14-10) will be making its 37th NCAA tournament appearance when first round competition gets underway at campus sites next weekend.
The Cardinal will square off against No. 37 Notre Dame (15-13) on May 13 in Chicago. The next edition of the rankings, which will be used throughout the postseason, will be released on Thursday.
Northwestern, ranked No. 13 in the country, but the tournament's No. 14 overall seed, will host first and second round competition on May 13-14. The Wildcats open against Valparaiso in the opening round.
Stanford will open NCAA play on the road for the fourth consecutive season. Last season, the Cardinal advanced to the second round after topping No. 41 Tennessee 4-2 before falling 4-1 to 10th-ranked Duke.
The Cardinal was on the wrong of three 4-3 decisions to top 20 programs before going on a five match winning streak.
Stanford advanced to the Pac-12 semifinal match for the second straight year. All ten of Stanford's losses have come against teams ranked among the top-30.
Tom Fawcett has led the way for the Cardinal this season, amassing a 20-7 overall record and 14-5 dual record. Fawcett has been ranked as high as No. 3 this season with 13 wins over ranked opponents.
Stanford owns a 104-21 all-time record in the postseason. The Cardinal has won 17 NCAA championships, including 15 since the NCAA Tournament went to its present format in 1977. The most recent crown came back in 2000, when Stanford blanked VCU 4-0.