The No. 16 Stanford men's tennis team will face a new foe Thursday as the Cardinal prepares to take on top-seeded Wake Forest for the first time in program history in the NCAA round of 16. Match time is set for 4 p.m. in Athens, Georgia at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex.
While the Cardinal tennis program has been competing since 1926 and Wake Forest since 1954, strangely the two programs have never met. The Deacons are no joke though as they've compiled a 19-match win streak this season: a program record.
Since the NCAA changed to its present format the Cardinal has reached the round of 16 on 29 occasions. Should it reach the quarterfinals, it would be Stanford's 25th appearance.
Junior David Wilczynski has amassed a phenomenal campaign this season, he's posted singles win streaks of six and seven to compile a 16-3 record in dual meets.
In doubles action, he's teamed up with Brandon Sutter to roll to a 17-4 duals record while putting up two five-match streaks and holding a current four-match streak.
On the year Wilczynski has been honored twice by the Pac-12 as Player of the Week.
Stanford's bid to repeat as national champions for the first time since 2004-06 continues this weekend in Athens, GA at the NCAA Championships.
Seeded No. 7 in the postseason draw but ranked No. 6 in the country, Stanford (23-2) will square off against 10th-seeded Michigan (23-5) in the round of 16 on Friday at 6 a.m.
It's a rematch of last year's NCAA quarterfinal, which Stanford rallied to win 4-3 thanks to Caroline Doyle's three-set clincher in which she overcame a 6-5 third-set deficit.
The winningest program in collegiate history with 19 national championships (18 NCAA, 1 AIAW), Stanford must be considered a national title contender regardless of seed. Despite being seeded higher than No. 5 only once (at No. 1 in 2011) over the last nine years, the Cardinal has produced three NCAA crowns (2010, 2013, 2016).
Equally comfortable playing the role of underdog, Stanford has incredibly won 14 of its last 16 NCAA Tournament matches when seeded lower than its opponent, a battle-tested stretch that dates back to 2010.
In 2016, Stanford became the lowest-seeded team to win an NCAA title at No. 15, defeating Oklahoma State in a 4-3 thriller.
Four years ago, Stanford won it all as a No. 12 seed – at the time the lowest-seeded team to accomplish the feat. In 2010, the Cardinal took home the crown as a No. 8 seed.
Meanwhile, Stanford and UCLA have both won 113 NCAA team championships overall, so there is added incentive to claim the distinction as the winningest program in collegiate athletics.
The Bruins have been eliminated on the women's side but their men's program remains in contention.
Stanford has experienced very little drop-off following last year's NCAA title campaign, maintaining a spot among the nation's top-15 for the majority of the season while suffering only two losses (at Florida, at Pepperdine).
Stanford, which is 144-18 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, blanked Idaho 4-0 in the first round before surviving pesky TCU 4-2 in the second round last week at Taube Family Tennis Stadium.
The Cardinal once again possesses all the ingredients to make another deep postseason run.
Seniors Caroline Doyle (18-11 overall, 9-8 duals) and Taylor Davidson (12-10 overall, 10-7 duals) boast experience and a combined 15-7 record in NCAA team play.
Sophomores Melissa Lord (25-5 overall, 16-4 duals) and Caroline Lampl (25-5 overall, 18-3 duals) have continued their development and provided pivotal wins over TCU.
Meanwhile, freshmen Emily Arbuthnott (25-4 overall, 19-2 duals) and Emma Higuchi (31-3 overall, 20-0 duals) have essentially been automatic at the lower two spots.
The Cardinal has been solid in doubles, but even if it loses the point, there is no panic. Stanford has won nine of its last 13 matches overall when falling behind 1-0, with seven of those victories coming last season.