Stanford a team for the ages

Publication Date: Wednesday Apr 8, 1998

MEN'S TENNIS: Stanford a team for the ages

No previous Cardinal squad has ever approached this year's 101-1 singles mark

by Keith Peters

After 32 years of coaching some of the finest tennis players in the world, Stanford men's coach Dick Gould has become a pretty good person to evaluate teams and talent. His 1978 team was a good one. Led by freshman John McEnroe, the Cardinal that year went 24-0 and captured the NCAA team crown.

Even McEnroe, recalled Gould, lost a couple matches and struggled at times. So, too, did the 1995 Stanford team that went 27-0 and captured national honors.

For sure, those undefeated teams were special, as were 13 other Stanford squads that won NCAA titles under Gould. None, however, ever came close to the amazing feat performed by this season's team.

"To this point in this season," said Gould, "I've never had a team accomplish what this team has accomplished. Flat out, no way."

Prior to Tuesday's Pacific-10 Conference match in Berkeley against a dangerous Cal team, Stanford had fashioned a remarkable dual-match singles record of 101-1.

That's correct. One hundred and one wins and just one loss. No wonder the Cardinal began the week ranked No. 1 in the nation with a 7-0 Pac-10 mark, an 18-0 overall record and a streak of 29 straight dual-match victories.

"To this point," remarked Gould, "it's been unbelievable."

Just check it out: sophomore Geoff Abrams is 17-0, junior Ryan Wolters is 16-0, freshman Alex Kim is 15-0, senior Paul Goldstein is 14-0, sophomore Mike Bryan is 11-0, freshman Scotty Scott is 7-0, freshman Ali Ansari is 5-0, senior Charles Hoeveler is 2-0 and sophomore David Hauser is 1-0.

There's only sophomore Bob Bryan to blame for the blemish on the otherwise perfect record. He's 13-1.

Gould, of course, will forgive his young left-hander. After all, Bob teams with brother Mike to form a doubles team that's 11-0 and ranked No. 6 in the nation.

The two also are the team's highest-ranked singles players in the latest Rolex Collegiate Rankings--Mike is No. 10 and Bob is No. 11. Hardly a surprise for twins.

When Stanford's doubles record of 40-4 is factored in, that's a mark of 141-5. Not bad for a team that hasn't reached its peak.

"We're getting there," Gould said. "We're moving in the right direction, but we have a lot of room for improvement."

Gould might get some arguments from the UCLA and USC men's coaches, who watched their teams leave Stanford's Taube Family Tennis Stadium with no points to show for their efforts last weekend.

Stanford struggled at times against UCLA before beating the Bruins, 7-0. Despite a 30-minute rain delay, the singles matches still were completed in under two hours. Goldstein, Wolters, Mike Bryan and Abrams all won in straight sets, with Kim and Bob Bryan stretched to a third.

Against USC on a rainy and cold Saturday afternoon, the Cardinal wrapped things up in singles again, with only Kim and Wolters being forced to a third set during a 6-0 blanking of the Trojans.

"We beat some good players," said of the USC lineup, which included only one American. "I think we competed real well. That's a sign of a good team."

While Stanford has swept UCLA and USC at home before, it's believed that the two shutouts of the LA schools is a first. Gould, for one, couldn't remember it happening.

Despite all the recent success, however, Gould is wary of what's ahead.

"The major part of the season is still to come," he said.

If Stanford was able to get by No. 30 Cal on Tuesday, one big hurdle has been cleared toward finishing the season undefeated. This weekend, Stanford will begin a three-match set that closes out the home schedule. On Friday is No. 25 Arizona State (1:30 p.m.), with No. 41 Arizona on tap Saturday at noon. On April 14, No. 22 Boise State will provide the opposition.

After that, Stanford makes its annual trip to Los Angeles to wrap up the dual-match season at USC (April 17) and UCLA (April 18).

If Stanford is 23-0 at that point, only one other team in the NCAA tournament field should make plans on a lengthy stay.

That's the real goal for the season, of course.

Stanford has won the past three NCAA team crowns. The only team to win more was USC, which captured four from 1966-69. Gould arrived on The Farm in 1967 and won Stanford's first national title in 1973. Since then, no team has dominated the scene like the Cardinal.

And this season may be as good as it gets. 

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