Feb. 22, 2013
STANFORD, Calif.- Both Stanford tennis teams are preparing for key road matches this weekend as the first full month of dual match competition continues to wind down.
In fact, both the men and women are looking to bounce back from losses in their previous matches.
No. 13 Stanford (3-1, 0-0 Pac-12) is coming off a 4-3 defeat last week to upstart Saint Mary's in a result as rare as it was surprising. The Cardinal lost for only the third time on its home court since the 1999 campaign, having compiled an NCAA record 184-match home winning streak from 1999-2011.
The Gaels captured the doubles point and rallied after the Cardinal built leads of 2-1 and 3-2. However, it's also worth nothing Stanford was competing without the services of its top player in 2012 NCAA singles and doubles champion Nicole Gibbs, who will return to the lineup this weekend.
Stanford next travels to Gainesville, Fla., for a pair of matches against top-20 opponents in a weekend that will serve as ideal preparation for the grueling Pac-12 schedule. The Cardinal faces No. 18 Clemson on Saturday (9:30 a.m. PT) in a neutral-site contest before Sunday's highly-anticipated matchup against No. 4 Florida (8 a.m. PT). It's the first time Stanford and Florida have squared off in a regular-season match in Gainesville in 20 years.
Three years ago, Stanford edged Florida in Athens, Ga., to claim its 16th NCAA championship. The powerhouses squared off again in the 2011 NCAA title match, with the Gators claiming the hardware and snapping the Cardinal's NCAA-record 184-match home winning streak.
During last year's first regular-season matchup of the home-and-home series, Stanford knocked off Florida 5-2 at Taube Family Tennis Stadium. However, the Gators blanked UCLA 4-0 to claim its second straight NCAA championship and earn final bragging rights. Now, Stanford, which leads the all-time series 17-12, will try to snap Florida's 110-match home winning streak as USTA's "College MatchDay" invades Gainesville.
Stanford boasts four nationally-ranked players in the latest singles rankings: Krista Hardebeck (No. 10), Ellen Tsay (No. 33), Kristie Ahn (No. 68) and Stacey Tan (No. 98).
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No. 28 Stanford (3-4, 0-0 Pac-12) aims to stop its three-match losing streak when it takes on No. 12 California in Berkeley on Sunday (1 p.m.) in the latest chapter of the Bay Area rivalry series.
The result will not factor into the conference standings, as the April 20 contest at Taube Family Tennis Stadium will represent the Pac-12 counting match. Stanford has won five in a row against California, including a sweep of last year's season series.
A victory would be a much-welcomed result for Stanford, which is looking for its first victory since blanking No. 48 BYU 7-0 back on Feb. 1. The Cardinal is slated to participate in the Pacific Coast Doubles tournament from March 1-3, meaning its match against California will be the only dual on the schedule until a home date against Furman in two weeks. After Sunday, Stanford will not play another road match until April 5 against Washington.
The Cardinal has endured a slow start to the season, not much of a surprise considering the departures of All-Americans Bradley Klahn and Ryan Thacher and a new-look singles lineup that regularly features three freshmen.
However, head coach John Whitlinger is pleased with the progress of his rookies. Leading the charge is Nolan Paige, who has compiled a team-best 15 victories while playing primarily at the No. 3 spot. Fellow newcomers Maciek Romanowicz (11-11) and Trey Strobel (9-8) have also demonstrated their ability to remain factors on the back courts.
Two Cardinal players own national rankings in singles: John Morrissey (No. 35) and Paige (No. 91). The doubles team of Jamin Ball and Strobel sports a No. 57 ranking.