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Legendary Stanford Tennis Coach Frank Brennan takes a look at the Pac-12's All-Century Women's Tennis Team

Pac-12 Women’s Tennis All-Century Team: The Stanford snubs – greed is good!

The Pac-12 Conference is celebrating its centennial by naming an All-Conference team in each sport it sponsors. On April 11, the conference announced the All-Century selection for women’s tennis by naming 12 players, a doubles team, a coach and one player of the century, including:

              

Players of the Century:

Patty Fendick-McCain, Stanford, 1984-87

Nicole Gibbs, Stanford, 2011-13

Amber Liu, Stanford, 2003-06

Laura Granville, Stanford, 2000-01

Sandra Birch, Stanford, 1988-01

Barbara Hallquist-DeGroot, USC, 1976-79

Jana Juricova, Cal, 2009-12

Linda Gates-Morris, Stanford, 1982-85

Robin Anderson, UCLA, 2012-15

Amy Jensen, Cal, 1996-00

Keri Phebus, UCLA, 1993-96

Kathy Jordan, Stanford, 1978-79

Doubles Team of the Century:

Amanda Augustus / Amy Jensen, Cal

Coach of the Century:

Frank X. Brennan Jr., Stanford

Player of the Century:

Patty Fendick-McCain, Stanford

As you can see, Stanford dominated the player selection process with seven of the 12 players, as well as the Player and Coach of the Century. The Cal Bears had two player picks and the Doubles team of the Century. UCLA had two selections and seven-time National Champion USC, incredibly, could only garner one spot with two-time National Singles Champion, Barbara Hallquist-DeGroot. Other than Stanford, Cal, USC and UCLA, no additional schools were mentioned but the record of dominance by “The Big Four” bears this out.

Well, the only thing more fun than trying to select an All-Century team is discussing which Stanford players were left OFF the team. (Full disclosure: I was a voter in the selection process.)

The most egregious omission is that of Alycia Moulton ’82, two-time National Collegiate Doubles Champion, the very first NCAA Singles Champion in 1982 (women’s college sports were governed by AIAW in prior years), Team champion in 1982 and ranked #18 in the world professional ranks! With three National Collegiate titles, she is one of the best to ever play at the collegiate level, much less the Pac-12. She was so dominant that I once had the audacity to instruct her not to just win her NCAA Championship match but to “win quickly and not “dilly dally” to set the tone for her teammate’s wins … she did, they did, we did …look it up—1982 Salt Lake City, UT.

We could also argue for Debbie Graham, ‘90 NCAA Singles Champ, three-time team champion and future # 35 in the world. Or, from the same team, Meredith McGrath ’94 should be considered. With a NCAA team and doubles title in 1990 and a #19 world ranking, McGrath was a singles semi-finalist at the 1994 Wimbledon Tourney after winning in Eastbourne the week before beating someone named “Navratilova”.

Rodin may have the “Three Shades” at the Cantor Museum but in the 60’s Stanford Women’s Tennis had the “Three J’s”; Juli Heldman, Julie Anthony and Janie Albert-Willens. (Yes, Janie is the daughter of football Hall of Famer Frankie Albert and the mother of Heather Willens, Stanford’s top player in 1990). This trio pretty much dominated women’s collegiate tennis during this era with Heldman as the runner-up in singles and doubles at the Nationals in 1964, Albert-Willens was the singles winner in 1964 and doubles champ in 1967 with Julie Anthony. All three went on to notable professional careers during the infancy of Open tennis with Juli Heldman achieving a world ranking of #5.

To put a cap on the singles selection, how about the only (uh huh, the only) Grand Slam Singles winner to play college tennis, Barbara Jordan ’78 1979 Australian Open Singles Champion!  That’s right Barb Jordan, not younger sister Kathy Jordan, is the only collegiate player to win a Grand Slam Singles title. (Bring this fact up with Kathy at your own peril.)

So this rag tag group of leftovers with wins over Navratilova, Evert, several Grand Slam doubles titles, too many National Collegiate titles to count , and a top five world singles rankings and the 1979 Australian Open Singles Champ might just beat the top six from the official conference selection! I was so disappointed Alycia Moulton wasn’t selected that I told the Pac-12 not to bother calling me about selecting the All-Century team next time around.

Moving to doubles, The Farm has always been a force with Kathy Jordan, Linda Gates-Morris, Alycia Moulton, Mallory Burdette, Hilary Barte, and the team of Susie Hagey and Diane Morrison, each having won two National Doubles titles. The Burdette sisters (Erin ’05, Lindsey ’10 and Mallory ’13) need to be in any doubles conversation with an incredible four titles between them. Interestingly none were won while playing together. Erin won with Alice Barnes in 2005, Hilary Barte paired with middle sister Lindsey to win in 2010, and not to be outdone, youngest sister Mallory crossed the finish line first with Barte in 2011 and with Nicole Gibbs in 2012. The Georgia based family certainly had the DNA for doubles and thank God they didn’t mind missing Mom’s home cooking!

Finally, we come to the legendary Stanford team of two time champions (1976, 1979) Susie Hagey and Diane Morrison who were basically unbeatable in the late 70’s. Much like the vaunted Bryan brothers, they chose doubles as their venue and communicated much like the twins, always knowing where their partner was going and picking each other up mentally. Dominating together for two years is remarkable and I’m sure the voters gave them careful consideration for Doubles Team of the Century - I know I did. 

Last but not least, I need to mention Elise Burgin ‘84, former #22 in the world, member of the Wightman Cup and Federation Cup teams and 1984 NCAA Doubles champion with Linda Gates. She was a fierce competitor, had a great motor, and her “tank was never empty”. Playing on a team in the early 80’s that boasted two other future world top 20 players, Elisa never played #1 although she was often ranked #1 in the collegiate rankings … and had several “colorful” theories on why this occurred. Just come to Zott’s one Friday afternoon, buy me a hot dog and I’ll tell you her theories. The stories are rated R, so don’t bring the kids, but do bring the beer.

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In 21 seasons coaching the Stanford women’s tennis team, Frank Brennan compiled an eye-popping 510-50 overall record (.911) - most wins of any coach in program history. He is a four-time ITA/Wilson Intercollegiate Coach of the Year and led the Cardinal to 10 NCAA championships, including six in a row from 1986-91 and four perfect seasons (1982, 1984, 1989 and 1990).  He was also named the NCAA and ITA Coach of the Decade (for the 1980’s) and and earlier this month was named the Pac-12 Women's Tennis Coach of the Century. Frank is a member of both the Stanford Athletics Hall of Fame and the USTA/International Tennis Hall of Fame. His son, Frankie is currently the Associate Head Coach of the Stanford women’s team.     

             

              


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