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Cal, Davis Cup And Trick Shots
Courtesy: Brian Risso  
Release: 02/20/2014

STANFORD, Calif.- Due to a pair of cancellations and a built-in break for doubles tournament competition, No. 39 Stanford is currently in the midst of a stretch that features one scheduled dual match over a span of 37 days.

That lone contest is an important one and it takes place this weekend, as the Cardinal (3-1) hosts No. 9 California on Saturday, Feb. 22, at 1 p.m. at Taube Family Tennis Stadium.

Ranked in the top-10 for the first time in two years, the Golden Bears (6-2) are the second top-10 club that Stanford has faced this year, after falling 4-1 at No. 3 Georgia last month.

While Saturday’s match does not count toward the Pac-12 standings, it represents a golden opportunity for Stanford to pick up a quality win that will look good on its postseason resume in May. The Cardinal already owns a 4-2 neutral-site victory over No. 36 Washington.

Junior John Morrissey, who plays No. 1 singles and doubles, understands the significance of this weekend’s match against rival California (keep reading and you’ll find out just how far he will go in order to promote the match). A native of Dublin, Ireland, Morrissey is also excited to be back in the lineup after missing two matches while representing his country in Davis Cup action.

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Stanford has won three of its first four matches to open the season. The Cardinal’s biggest win to date was a 4-2 victory over No. 36 Washington on Jan. 25 in the opening round of ITA Kick-Off Weekend. The two highly-anticipated home matchups against the SoCal schools were rained out, but you guys will get a crack at those schools on the road in early April.
"I feel like it’s been a positive start for us. The sophomores have all really stepped up and you can see them benefitting from their experiences last year. You can see how much more comfortable they are out on the court. I think that showed when we were able to win a tough match against Washington last month. We couldn’t quite sneak it out and get the scalp against Georgia the next day but our guys played well. We feel pretty good about the trajectory we are on.”

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Stanford was incredibly solid in doubles last year, capturing the point in 17 of its 24 matches. Two weeks ago, Stanford stunned No. 2 UCLA by winning the doubles point before rain forced a cancellation after both sides could not agree to resume the match indoors. Who knows what would have happened if that match continued, as the team was playing with confidence and had tons of momentum.
"Last year, about halfway through the season, we just really started to click in doubles. We found the right teams, really stepped it up and were able to win some doubles points against some highly-ranked schools. We’re working really hard on our doubles in practice again this year, because it is so important to take that 1-0 lead in the match and only have to win half of the singles. I think it also speaks to our chemistry on the team, as we have a really close group that gets along together very well. Hopefully, the strong doubles play will continue.”

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You were presented with a unique opportunity to participate in Davis Cup competition for your home country. Representing Ireland in a first round match played in Minsk, Belarus, you accounted for the only point of the team’s 4-1 loss, prevailing in a walkover. The experience had to be awesome but it also meant you missed two matches, one of which shaped up to be an early barometer against No. 3 Georgia in Athens.
“I left right after the Washington match. Basically, showered, grabbed something to eat and then headed to the airport. Talking about it a lot with our coaches, they understood it was an incredible opportunity for me and were very encouraging. We played one match as team, losing 4-1 at Belarus. It was an amazing feeling and something I had always wanted to do since I was eight or nine years old. Growing up, I would go watch the Davis Cup matches and always wanted to represent my country. It was a great atmosphere, and ever since coming back, I’ve had an extra spring in my step and am feeling really motivated.”

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A Pac-12 All-Academic Second Team honoree last year, you are currently completing coursework toward a degree in International Relations. One of Stanford’s most interesting majors, you have to appreciate the diverse background of classes that are featured.
“I spent two years in Belgium before coming to Stanford, so I already had a strong French background. I have always been interested in economics, so I was just looking through some different majors. I’ve found that international relations has a good blend of courses I could take and a few small seminars. It just has an interesting mix. For example, I’m taking a few MS&E classes, a few economics classes, a few international relations classes and also a bit of French. After school, I would like to continue playing for a couple years if possible.”

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The Cardinal is hoping for a great turnout on Saturday against Cal. With the assistance of roommate and team manager, Publio Adrianza, you guys produced a video that shows you executing (thankfully) a “trick shot” that even the world’s top players have been unable to accomplish.
“It was a lot of fun to shoot. That’s Publio, my roommate and also our team manager, who is helping us try to promote our matches. The idea came from us watching the video of Roger Federer hitting a can of tennis balls off the guy’s head. Publio asked if I thought I could do it and jokingly I said yes. So, he actually took me up on it, grabbed a big football helmet with a mask and taped, put on a puffy jacket and taped a can of tennis balls on top of his head. It was a lot of fun. In the video, it looks like it was my first try. But it was actually my third, which still seems pretty good. He was a great sport to stand there and take it, because I wasn’t holding back on my serves.”


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