Stanford Tennis: Title & Tribulation

The NCAA tennis championships just wrapped up in Georgia for the men and women, and we are very pleased to offer you world-class accounts of the action from our good friend, botech. Check out his detailed daily reports from Athens and Stone Mountain... just like being there!

May 21

Talk about running the full range of emotions...........

There were a few Card fans who were privately talking sweep of the team titles over here. Both the women and men were placed in their easier half of the draw. Now all they had to do was execute. Easier said..............

The women's final started out this morning at 9:00 sharp. The sky was much like the day before, overcast, extremely humid that would do a sauna proud, plus a tinge of misty rain ever so often. The team wore their Cardinal red again, why not??,......they look very sharp in them. The team looked focused and ready.

The doubles started out fairly even, everyone holding serve. The #2 team( Granville/ Lastra) broke in the 4th game then sprinted out to a 5-2 lead. The #1 (Barnikow/Kalvaria) broke and held to lead 5-3. The #3 (Tokuda/Pestieau) was briefly up 2-1 on a break, then struggled, at one time trailing 5-2. That doubles point was still very much in doubt deep into that pro set. Vandy was up a break at #3, Vandy held at #1 to trail only 6-5, and Lastra was facing a tremendous battle to hold her serve at 6-4. This was Vandy's last, best chance and after countless dueces and ads, Lastra and Granville pulled thru to go up 7-4. A big sigh of relief could be heard. At #1 Barnikow held to go up 7-5, then Kalvaria served out to take it 8-6.

There were some private musings from a few insiders that Stanford was "semi-relieved" to be facing Vandy instead of Georgia, mainly because of the crowd, etc. Personally, I would have relished the opportunity to play the Dawgs, the team was that focused,,......after Stanford clinched the semis they had to walk back to their clubhouse that was underneath the Lincoln Tennis Center. In doing so they had to pass along the courts that had on it 2 deciding matches that contain the fate of their finals opponent. That battle was spirited and fierce, 500 people surrounding 2 courts. It had to pique curiousity, what was most interesting was the fact that when each Cardinal player walked by the action, absolutely none of them stopped to watch. They just walked right on past, it just seemed they had nary a care of who it would be. That was striking.

To say the Cardinal came out strong in singles would be an understatement. Keiko Tokuda and Emilia Anderson were a whirlwind, Lastra playing strong, Kalvaria exceptional. At one point late in the 1st set, 4 Cardinal players had 5-0 leads. The dye had been cast. Granville was up a break and even Barnikow who suffered a break early, broke back and was steadily racheting up her play, she took her 1st set, 6-2. Every Cardinal won her 1st set, albeit the Dores put up a sterner test in the 2nd set. For the most part it was back and forth, a few times a player would break, then was broken back. Granville and Lastra were having a more difficult time, Lastra down 4-1 in the 2nd, Granville down a break at 4-2, Tokuda was on serve as was Barnikow. Kalvaria who has been simply brillant broke her opponent at 4-2. Meanwhile, Tokuda playing steady broke her opponent to go up 5-4, then served out to claim the 1st point. Again, playing on one of the furthest court on the complex Emilia Anderson never trailed and with a number of Card fans standing underneath a nest of pine trees, Anderson claimed point #3. One more to go. Both Lauren's seemed to be on pace to claimed it, Kalvaria was up a break at 5-2, Barnikow was on serve at 4-3. Shortly afterwards, all attention shifted to Kalvaria. Receiving serve, she bore down and a few moments later when her Dore opponent sent her shot long a celebration ensued that would make any Cardinal fan proud. I have come to the conclusion that one of the most dangerous spots in America is getting in between a Cardinal celebration and a Cardinal player rushing to join it. They mean it.

A moment passed and then the players sang " Happy Birthday" to Lauren Barnikow, then the players doused Coach Forood with a bucket of water. When accepting the national championship trophy Coach Forood stated that the team was on a mission this year and paid a huge and glowing tribute to Frank Brennan who was here all week. Then the team posed for countless pictures, frankly, the moment couldn't have been better.

That's the good news, somewhat less glamorous news awaited another Card team an hour east of here.

There were a number of Stanford fans who pulled double-duty today. Arriving right after the doubles, in which Stanford claimed it, everyone found out shortly that Alex Kim wasn't playing. I was told that even tomorrow if the Card played that his status was touch-and-go. Well, everyone had to move up, Scott at #4, Ansari at #5, Lipsky #6. Contrary to reports, Scotty Scott didn't play on Sat. KJ Hippensteel at #1, Martin #2, Haviland at #3. Unfortunately, the Cardinal came out the most sluggish I've ever seen them. Even winning games on the top half were a chore, At one point late in the 1st set, Martin and Haviland hadn't even won a game down 4-0. KJ was broken late and lost 6-2, Martin 6-0, Haviland 6-2. It's safe to say it wasn't pretty. The only solace was the fact that the bottom half was going to have to save this match, even then it was a struggle. The only player with any type of lead was Scott Lipsky who was cruising, Ansari won his 1st set but was locked in a battle, Scott at #4 had a few problems of his own. After the 1st set in which the Vols had 4 of them in their pocket, you could tell that the Card better start showing some that magic. Things did get better but not markedly. Lipsky was the 1st to finish winning 6-1, 6-2. Scott at #4 had his chances and he knows it but couldn't convert and was the 1st Cardinal to fall 6-2, 6-3. Haviland practically couldn't do anything right and was the most frustrated falling 6-2, 6-1. The only solace was the fact that 2 Cardinal broke in the 2nd, KJ and David. A 3rd set looked highly likely, the only way out of this soup. KJ was up 5-2, then proceeded to lose the next 4 games, that didn't help matters, Martin was up 5-2 also, but eventually took that 2nd set. With only 3 matches playing and the Card needing 2, it was critical that KJ take that 2nd set, forcing a 3rd. The tension was palpable, the tiebreaker in that 2nd set seemed to last forever. In the end the Vol took it, coupled that with the fact that Martin was down a break at 3-0 and Ansari just starting his 3rd set, then the realization occured that Stanford was facing a huge mountain to climb. To give credit, Martin came fighting back, breaking and holding to trail 4-3. Ansari was also down 3-0 in the 3rd, then came back to tie 3-3. The only problem was "could they substain it". Martin's play was ahead of Ansari's, everyone in the complex was gathered around ,sensing something, tension and nerves were much in evident. The UCLA players were looking on, then Martin was broken in the 8th game and then returned the favor the next game. Martin then served at 4-5 hoping to stay in, unfortunately, a few errors later and the end-result.

The match felt strange, never at any one moment did the Cardinal feel in control. That's the eerie part. When was the last time the Cardinal lost the 1,2,3,4 positions? Kim or no Kim. The team seemed to play on its heels and in this enviroment, that's a no-no. What's most troublesome is the fact that this top-half is same lineup that will play next year. It's safe to say they didn't handled themselves well and they know it.

I left with mixed emotions, felt bad for the men, although there wasn't one Cardinal fan here who wouldn't deny that the Vols played better. The women were spectacular all week and very much deserved the championship, especially after last year. Congrats are in order for them.

It's been a long day.....

Go Card!!

May 20

The Stanford Cardinal will play for another national championship as they methodically dismantled the Florida Gators 4-1. Starting after a 2 hr. rain delay and playing under overcast and extremely humid conditions the Cardinal was determine to claim that all-important doubles point, only once this tourney has a team lost it and rallied to win. Everyone speaks of how important it is. The Stanford #1 started with a break, then was broken 3 games later, the #2 was locked in a duel that saw them actually trail 4-2 before claiming the next 3 games. At #3 they had 5 straight games where teams broke each another before the Gators claimed the upperhand. The #1's exerted itself later breaking to go up 7-4, then served out. Then all eyes focused on the #2's, Granville and Lastra had their hands full. The Cardinal serve was broken and trailed 6-5, things looked a bit dicey as the #3's was looking to fall the Gators way. Then Granville/Lastra's play picked up, breaking back, both teams going back and forth. The Cardinal held serve, then at 8-7, the #2's managed to force the Gators into some crucial errors and seconds later the point fell into the Cardinal ledger. Big advantage to Stanford and Florida knew it.

Both semifinals singles were played at the same time, you could here each others roar. None of the courts are connecting, so you could put up some serious mileage watching your favorite team, it's possible to play on a court 100 yds. away from your doubles partner court. No one particularly liked it.

The Cardinal started well, Kalvaria broke early, so did Tokuda, Granville followed, things looked well-in-hand. The only trouble-spot was at #3-4 where Barnikow and Lastra were down early. When #6 Emilia Anderson went up a break at 4-1, one could sense that "well-oiled machine" was indeed clicking. Evidence of this was Gabriella Lastra when after she drop the 1st set 6-2, then proceeded to claim the next 9 games, a 6-0 set,then went up a break in the 3rd. It was textbook. While that was happening the first single point actually went to the Gators when Lauren Barnikow lost at #4, she couldn't quite handle the pace of her opponent and the score was briefly tied at 1-1. Shortly afterwards Lauren Kalvaria, who is simply playing brillant, won her match easily, 6-2, 6-3. Then about 15 mins. later Laura Granville added another, taking it 6-0, 7-6. It was only a matter of time and which singles would claim it. Tokuda was up a break late in her 2nd set, Lastra completely was frustrating her opponent, but all eyes focused on the furthest court on the complex. Emilia Anderson was playing tremendous, won her 1st set 6-4, up a pair of breaks in the 2nd, she was playing her best in this tourney.Then barely past 3 hrs. in this Stanford/Florida duel, she then thrusted a forehand cross-court that a touch off a very pleasant celebration-----Stanford back in another final. Gabriella Lastra sensing the inevitable saw that final point then made a dash of 100 ft. that could have made her eligible for the track team............. But who would be their opponent.

Another remarkable item is that the Georgia/Vandy semi started about 30-45 min. ahead of Stanford's semi (only had to play a half-set of doubles this morning) and finished 45 mins. afterwards. Vandy won the doubles point and was playing well, then after Stanford clinched they still had #5-6 singles to play, the Dores only needed one. Quite remarkably, it basically came down to the last woman standing, players were cramping, more or less staying stationary, letting their opponent make the error. I must say this, one cannot help be impressed with the Cardinal conditioning. They haven't been given any breaks as for as the timing and conditions, playing in the afternoon, when even Georgia's #1 player said that she was glad the Dawgs weren't playing out in that oven. Some teams have not handled the heat well and it showed. Well, after Georgia's #6 put the ball into the net, it was set--------Stanford/ Vandy.

I understand the final will be played at 9:00 am(EDT). Stanford looked quite impressive today and after last year's disappointment, I imagine that NCAA trophy would look quite fulfilling on the plane ride back home.

May 19

Just returned from Stone Mountain and it doesn't look good. The tournament director said it could be 8:00 or 9:00 tonight before they play. Georgia and Vandy got a few points in before the heavens opened. I understand both semis will play at the same time and that the final will be played at 4:00(EDT) tomorrow. It's doubtful I'll make the trek back, it's raining all thruout north Georgia tonight.

It started to rain in Athens about 2:00 this afternoon and the Cardinal men already had the doubles point in hand and had things in control. The Waves were putting up a good fight. I understand they had to move play indoors where they have 4 courts and it's cramped. It doesn't look good as for as play outside tonight and they still have the bottom half to play. They will be playing well into the night.

We'll be back at it tomorrow, ....funny thing, I understand it hadn't any rain here in a month.

May 18

Stanford prevailed in rather easy fashion this afternoon with a 4-0 victory over Arizona St. Playing in the brunt of the heat, although it was a tad cooler than yesterday, the Cardinal played with a bit more vigor than against Wake Forest.

It's always interesting when teams play on consecutive days to note which individuals "step up" at certain times. This day that choice was easy. It could best be described as the " Lauren and Lauren show". Lauren Kalvaria is playing like she owns the place. She along with partner Lauren Barnikow basically "ran the table" against their #1 ASU doubles team, winning 8-1. It was a clinic. Both were serving extremely, Barnikow playing much better than yesterday, were hitting the corners and putting some steam behind it. The Sun Devils didn't have any answers. The other doubles that helped clinch the point was #2 Granville/Lastra. They broke their opponent in the 1st game and was never really threatened, prevailing 8-4. Overall, the Cardinal doubles were more steady than the previous day.

Again, wearing their Cardinal red, the singles went out to their various courts seeking a quick and decisive conclusion. The Sun Devils didn't go away quietly. Both Lauren Kalvaria and Lauren Barnikow ran out to huge leads, breaking at will. Barnikow, playing on a court where she could literally hit a wedge shot and hit rush-hour traffic on US 78 played superb winning 6-2, 6-0, taking home the 1st Cardinal single point. Not too long afterwards Kalvaria, not missing a beat, won in 6-1, 6-2. All eyes then turned to #1 Laura Granville to provide the clincher, she was up a break in the 2nd. Unfortunately, she started hitting long and the unforced errors accumulated.She lost the last 4 games of the 2nd set, then started out poorly in the 3rd. While this was happening out at #5 Keiko Tokuda was locked in a spirited battle with her opponent, going back and forth in the 1st, neither was giving much. Fortunately for Keiko, she "dug deep late" in that 1st set and pulled it out, 7-5. Barnikow was practically finished with her match when that happened. Keiko's opponent faded a bit in the 2nd and she went on to prevail in a rather "easy" 2nd, winning 6-2. In the others, Lastra lost her 1st set and was locked in a duel along with Emilia Anderson at #6 who won her 1st set in a tiebreaker. Granville was struggling but is the type player who can come out the next day and prove why she is the current NCAA Singles Champion. She may need to. I didn't stay for the Florida/ Washington match and the Card will have to face that winner at 4:00 (EDT) on Sat.

The men start tomorrow in Athens at 11:00 against the Waves. It will be quite warm, temps in the upper 80's all week. Conditioning will be at a premium and it on a most pleasant note to mention that the Cardinal team has played both matches in this "soup" and looks extremely ready to handle all challenges, including those from nature.

In other matches,..... Georgia prevailed over a spent USC who left it all on the court the previous day against Northwestern, taking it 4-0. In the biggest surprise of the tourney Vandy beat Duke rather easily 4-1. So, it's Vandy/ Georgia in one semi and Stanford and Florida/Wash. in the other on Sat.

I should have reports on both Cardinal matches tomorrow, both from Athens and Stone Mountain. It should be a rather interesting day.

Go Card!!

May 17

The Stanford Cardinal playing in the last grouping of the day prevailed over an amply game Wake Forest team tonight, winning 4-0. The Cardinal didn't take to the courts until 5:30 and ended up playing under the lights, finishing at 8:45 (EDT). The Cardinal performance was solid, albeit not spectacular.

The team appears to be focused, knowing what's at hand. A number of players wore a black pull-over shirt that said STP on the front and on the back proclaimed, Stanford Tennis Program: "a well-oiled machine". The team wore it's Cardinal-red shirts and started out smartly against the Deacons, #1 & #2 doubles went up a break, then their play flattened out with #1 losing 4 of 5 games, #2 also lost their break. Fortunately #3 held firm and easily prevailed 8-3, leaving the stage to #2 to clinch the doubles point. That wasn't as easy as Granville/Lastra had to win the last 3 games to clinch 8-6. Kalavaria/Barnikow was on the verge, leading by a break and playing very well at the time. It seem the Cardinal hit a valley towards the middle, but their play sharpened towards the end. The Cardinal seemed intent to continue a heightened level of play. Approaching the singles, a number went up a break very quickly, Lastra and Kalavaria playing tremendous. Stanford won 5 of the 6 1st sets and shortly afterwards, Lastra was the first to shake her opponents hand, then Tokuda, who played great all match. then 15 mins later, Kalavaria clinched. Next up,.................Arizona St.

A few scores.......

Georgia 4 Baylor 0
USC 4 Northwestern 2
Duke 4 Texas 1
Vandy 4 UCLA 1
Wash. 4 Tenn 3
Fla. 4 Notre Dame 1
Ariz St. 4 Cal 2

Some notes about times......

Stanford plays at 2:00 (EDT) on Fri, then I've been told will "probably play" at 4:00 (EDT) on Sat. The men in Athens will play at 11:00 (EDT) on Sat. and also 11:00 (EDT) on Sun. It's about an hour commute between venues and i'm sure there will be a number who will make that trek to see both on Sat. and hopefully on Sun.

Also, I understand that this is already out in the public domain, so forgive me if I'm reduntant. Stanford will host the 2002 NCAA Women's Tennis Championship at Taube next year. I understand the seniors will want to play with a special vigor then. But, first order of business is some leftover business from Malibu. That's a trophy being hoisted by the Cardinal this Sun. afternoon. The team seemed that focused.

Go Card!!

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