The Boise State tennis team is in California for two important matches against #44 Fresno State and #22 Stanford. Boise State, which has won 14 of its last 15 matches, needs wins to secure a home berth in the upcoming NCAA National Championships. Boise State, #24 in the latest Intercollegiate Tennis Association ratings, will tackle the Bulldogs today in Fresno and then meet up with the Cardinal on Tuesday in Palo Alto.
The Broncos, 14-4 this season and ranked No. 24 by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, will face the No. 44 Bulldogs, April 2, and the No. 22 Cardinal, April 4.
Boise State has rung up victories over Texas A&M (No. 13), Utah (No. 51), Arizona (No. 43), William & Mary (No. 68), Brown (No. 53), Middle Tennessee State (No. 36), South Alabama (No. 34), and Louisiana-Lafayette (No. 48) in a streak of ten consecutive dual victories.
#25 Luke Shields leads Coach Greg Patton's attack. The Bronco sophomore is 20-7 on the season. Thomas Schoeck was ranked #108 this week with a 16-7 overall mark. Shields and Schoeck are also ranked 16th in the nation in doubles.
Junior Stanley Sarapanich could make his Bronco debut against one of the California teams. He's a JC transfer from Glendale College and would likely fit into the Boise State lineup at either #5 or #6 singles.
Fresno State is 11-5 this season, and 3-5 against teams ranked in the ITA's top 75. Jakup Cech is Fresno's top player, ranked #52 in the country with a 17-6 season record. The Bronco-Bulldog clash is a dual of the teams likely to finish 1-2 in the upcoming Western Athletic Conference Championships, scheduled for April 21-23 at the Appleton Tennis Center in Boise.
Stanford is 10-2 this season, and has won each of its last four matches including a 5-2 victory over No. 5 Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a 7-0 rout of #26 Washington. The Cardinal have gone 7-2 this season against teams ranked in the ITA's top 75, and 4-1 against teams ranked in the top 30. Earlier this year, Stanford was ranked in the top five. The Cardinal have registered victories over 2002 champ USC, 2003 champ Illinois and 2005 champ UCLA. An earlier loss to 2004 champ Baylor prevents a sweep of the last four national champions.
Stanford is led by freshman Matt Bruch, #18 in the nation, who has compiled a 20-5 record this season. Bruch advanced all the way to the semifinals of the prestigious Polo Ralph Lauren Men's All-American Championships in October, where he lost a 7-6, 6-4 match to top-ranked John Isner of Georgia. Bruch followed that up by making it to the quarterfinals of the ITA Indoor National Championships, losing to #2 Benjamin Kohlloefel of UCLA.
Bruch and #24 K.C. Corkery give the Cardinal a powerful 1-2 punch that will be difficult for Boise State to deal with. Corkery, a senior, advanced to the semifinals of the Indoor Nationals before losing to Walter. If Shields and/or Schoeck can come up with an upset Tuesday, the Broncos' chances of a team win over Stanford improve dramatically.