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Senior Doubles Team As Good As Advertised
Courtesy: Stanford Athletics  
Release: 05/07/2012

May 7, 2012

STANFORD, Calif.- Seniors Bradley Klahn and Ryan Thacher have combined to form one of the most prolific doubles teams in school history, quite a feat considering the rich tradition of the Stanford men's tennis program.

Since pairing up as freshmen three years ago, Klahn and Thacher have pocketed seven doubles titles to their credit. After winning the Pac-10 Championships as freshmen in 2009, the duo took home the hardware at the ITA Northwest Regional Championships and ITA National Indoor Championships during their sophomore campaign. Last year as juniors, Klahn and Thacher snagged three more doubles crowns, with victories at the ITA National Indoor Championships (consolation), Sherwood Cup and Pacific Coast Doubles.

Back in March, Klahn and Thacher repeated as Pacific Coast Doubles champions and the senior tandem is now focused on an even bigger prize- the NCAA Championships. Klahn and Thacher came close to winning last season's NCAA doubles crown, settling for a runner-up finish one year after reaching the semifinals of the same event.

Stanford's doubles lineup has been shuffled recently for matchup purposes, splitting Klahn and Thacher apart. However, the duo will pair up for a final tourney run when the NCAA Doubles Championships get underway in two weeks.

The two-time All-American doubles team of Klahn and Thacher has compiled an impressive career record of 111-22. The on-court success is a direct byproduct of their close friendship away from tennis.

Klahn and Thacher, who hope to play professionally after college, recently offered some thoughts on each other's game and what ultimately makes their partnership so successful.

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Strong serving can really set the tone, especially in doubles.

Klahn: "It's nice to be at the net when Ryan is serving because I get a lot of opportunities to cross and poach balls off from weak returns. Ryan's serve is very big, so that's a key asset for him, and us, as a doubles team. He hits every spot well, with spin and movement. That makes it easier for us to call different serves and execute a play."

Thacher: "Brad has a lot of variety with serve. He has the ability to put the serve in different parts of the box and move it around very well. Specifically, his wide serve in the ad court. He just puts a tremendous swing on it. So, even when the ball bounces, it catches a lot more on top of it and that forces opponents to extend."

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You guys are equally solid at the net.

Klahn: "Ryan is tall at 6-3 and has a great reach. So, he's able to make a lot of things happen up there. Plus, he moves quite a lot and can cover a lot of balls. He's able to put a lot of guys away."

Thacher: "One thing Brad does better than me is really sticking volleys when he gets a chance to put people away. He puts a good swing on it. Also, he has very good hands. If he picks up low volleys or gets extended, he has the ability to cut or drop the ball. It's that kind of variety that makes it tough on the opponent."

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Klahn and Thacher earned a runner-up finish at last year's NCAA Doubles Championship.

And just as dangerous from the baseline.

Klahn: "I think that's what makes us such a good team, our ability to make a lot of balls from the back. Ryan is very solid from the back with his forehand and backhand. He can make the other guys hit a lot of volleys. Also, Ryan has really developed his forehand over the last four years, mixing up the pace and being able to dip the ball a lot more."

Thacher: "Brad really makes the opponents `feel' him when he's at the baseline. I can see it first-hand having stood on the other side of the net from him in practice, when he's lacing ground strokes at you. Of course, his forehand is lethal. He can hit it completely flat or he can whip over it. It's probably the heaviest forehand that I've seen playing in college. Brad's backhand has also improved a lot since he came in as a freshman. That's been one of the focal points for him in practice, because he's really worked to improve that side."

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What are you guys discussing during changeovers between games?

Klahn: "Coupe (assistant coach Brandon Coupe) is on our bench a lot. A lot of times we'll discuss what happened in the previous games or go over different shots. Mainly, just looking forward to the next game. We don't go into anything that's too complex. We are just really trying to keep ourselves loose and focused. In an eight-game pro set, I think that's key because there are a lot of momentum changes and it's such a sprint."

Thacher: "The changeover affords an opportunity to talk more about strategy. What we've seen that they're doing, what we feel like we're doing well or what we should continue to do. More of a big picture. Whereas in between points, it's more talking about the next point or what play to run. If we notice a guy isn't volleying as well as his partner, then maybe concentrate balls to him if we get a chance."

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Any area that might be a weakness for you, but is a strength for him?

Klahn: "I definitely feel like Ryan helps me out a lot with my serve. We're able to pull out a lot of my service games even if my serve is up and down or my first-serve percentage drops. I'm confident we can stay in the game because of Ryan's ability to cross and move around at the net. Draw balls to him, put volleys away. That takes a lot of pressure of me."

Thacher: "In terms of consistency and the ability to be aggressive with it, I'd say forehand returns. That's something I've been working on for years."

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You've just won a critical point. Who initiates the chest bump or high-five?

Klahn: "I guess I can be a little more fiery at times and maybe Ryan is more subdued. It's always kind of fun to see if I can pry a little and get him going. Over the years, I feel like we've definitely started to show our positive energy a little more. Not that it wasn't there, I just feel like we show it more by being vocal and positive. I think I've always had a little edge while Ryan picks and chooses his spots a little more."

Thacher: "Doubles brings up my intensity and energy level. I still feel that Bradley brings the real fire. It's not to say that I'm the calmer player. I really try to stay as even-keel as possible. It's not always easy. In doubles, I think there's more of an opportunity for exuberance. One of the biggest things in doubles is the games are so quick. You really need to be up, in terms of your attitude and energy level."

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Klahn and Thacher brought home their first doubles title as freshmen at the 2009 Pac-10 Championships.

Seven doubles titles for you guys. Any that stick out?

Klahn: "Every title is special. There are so many great teams out there, so you never take any victories for granted. Obviously, defending the Pacific Coast Doubles title was huge, winning it twice without dropping a set. That tournament is pretty historic, it's been around forever and it has some personal value because I grew up playing in it even before I went to school. Winning the National Indoors is another one that stands out, a real big accomplishment for us since it was a national title."

Thacher: "We played really well when we won the National Indoors in New Haven as sophomores. I'd also say winning Pac-10's because we were both freshmen and had not been playing together much. We beat USC's Steve Johnson and Robert Farah in the quarterfinals, and I think they were ranked No. 1 or 2 at the time. Then we won a marathon in the finals. So I think with that being our first year, growing up and going to Ojai as much as I did, made it very meaningful."

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Your chemistry as friends off the court must also play a key role.

Klahn: "We've roomed together on team trips, so it's easy to transition between on and off court. Knowing each other so well, we have strong overall communication and it's great playing with your best friend. It has been helpful in general, going through these four years together. Adjusting to all the curveballs that come your way and adjusting to college life. All those experiences together make it memorable."

Thacher: "Brad and I have spent four years together on the team. We were always competing in the same tournaments growing up, but maybe didn't get a chance to get to know each other as much. Off the court, Brad is one of my closest friends and we spend a lot of time together. As co-captains, we also talk a lot about the state of the team. We are very honest with each other."

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by Brian Risso, Athletics Communications/Media Relations. Photo by Eric Taylor.



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