Tennis: women win P-10 crown; men win share

After wrapping up the Pac-10 Tournament two weeks ago, the Stanford tennis teams return home to the Farm before beginning NCAA Tournament play. The Cardinal wrapped up solid seasons on both the men's and women's side, with both squads ranked eighth nationally heading into the postseason.

But before the teams start their trek towards an NCAA Championship at the University of Georgia (May 20-31), let's do a quick season recap to break down the Cardinal's chances at taking home their first national championships of the year.

Women's Tennis

The Stanford ladies were nothing short of spectacular this season, as they rolled to a 20-1 overall record, and an unblemished 8-0 conference record. The Cardinal wrapped up the Pac-10 championship this season in a somewhat unusual fashion, as their regular season didn't end until the Wednesday before the Pac-10 Championships.

Back in February, the Cardinal had a home dual match against USC canceled due to rain, and had to complete the match in Ojai, CA the Wednesday before Pac-10's in order to decide the fate of the Pac-10 regular season title. UCLA had already completed the regular season with a 7-1 conference record, so the Cardinal needed a win to make sure the title would head back to the Farm after USC claimed the title in 2009. The Cardinal had already completed six singles matches against USC before their match was rained out in February, and with the score tied 3-3, the rescheduled match meant that the doubles draw would decide the fate of the Pac-10 championship.

All that said, the Cardinal had no trouble dusting off the Trojans, as Veronica Li and Carolyn McVeigh, as well as Hilary Barte and Lindsay Burdette, the nation's second best-doubles team, both cruised to 8-2 victories. Mallory Burdette and Stacey Tan also notched an 8-3 victory. Interesting note to this match: Conference officials had to rule that this constituted a "home match" for Stanford, since the singles matches had been contested on The Farm on April 4. With this ruling, the Cardinal women netters have now won an eye-popping and NCAA-record 162 consecutive home matches, a streak that dates back to 1999.

At the Pac-10 Championships, junior Hilary Barte, the defending Pac-10 Player of the Year, smashed her way to the finals, downing fellow Cardinal Stacey Tan in the quarterfinals, the only other Stanford player to make it past the second round of the tournament, with a 6-4, 6-1 victory.

Barte then defeated Cal's Marina Cosseau to secure her spot against UCLA's Yasmin Schnack in the finals, who had not won a match (0-3) against Barte this season. Schnack pulled out a hard-fought 6-4, 7-5 victory in the singles final though, and took home her first Pac-10 title on her way to being named Pac-10 Player of the Year.

Barte received acclaim for her terrific 30-7 season, as she earned All-Pac-10 First Team honors, her third straight First-Team season. Freshman Mallory Burdette received her fair share of hardware as well, as she was named the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year after she notched a 32-5 record this season, including her 18 of her last 20 matches. To top it all off, head coach Lele Forwood collected her fourth Pac-10 Coach of the Year award, her first since 2007, as she helped Stanford to regain the Pac-10 title and stretched her record as head coach to an impressive 253-16. All-American honors will not be announced until after the completion of the NCAA tournament.

Men's Tennis

The men's tennis team had an equally successful season, in a strangely parallel fashion, as the boys from The Farm finished the season with a seven-match winning streak to earn a share of the Pac-10 title with USC. Along the way to the title, the Cardinal grabbed important road victories at No. 9 UCLA and No.13 Cal, helping the Cardinal to their first conference title since 2006, when they split the crown with UCLA.

The Cardinal entered the Pac-10 Championships with sophomore Bradley Klahn as the defending singles and doubles champion, as he was the fourth player in Stanford history to capture both the singles and doubles title in the same year. Klahn was the No. 2 seed in the singles tournament, while teammates Ryan Thacher and Alex Clayton followed as the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds, respectively. Clayton fell in the second round to UCLA's Matt Brooklyn, while Thacher and Klahn both advanced to the semifinals, where Thacher took on USC senior Robert Farah, the No. 1 seed and the reigning Pac-10 Player of the Year.

Farah dropped Thacher, 6-4, 6-3, but Klahn advanced to the finals after a 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 victory over another Trojan, sophomore Daniel Nguyen. Klahn and Farah are familiar opponents, as Klahn defeated Farah in January on his way to winning the Sherwood Cup to kick off the spring season, but Farah got revenge when Stanford played the Men of Troy in Los Angeles with a 7-6, 1-6, 7-6 victory.

When all was said and done, Farah got the best of Klahn this time with a 6-2, 7-6 (5) victory. Farah's victory in singles was complimented by a victory in doubles with partner Steve Johnson, while Klahn and Thacher lost in the semifinals.

Farah's double-dip helped him lock up Pac-10 Player of the Year honors, the first back-to-back POTY since Stanford's Sam Warburg achieved this feat in 2004 and 2005. Klahn and Thacher both earned First Team All Pac-10 honors, as the nation's number three ranked doubles team was good enough (a 35-7 record) to earn Klahn his second All-Pac-10 first team award, while Thacher earned his first after making the second team last year. Junior Alex Clayton also garnered All-Pac-10 second team honors, his third straight recognition after making the first team the last two years.

Looking Ahead

The Cardinal now look ahead to the NCAA Tournament, a 64-team bracket that plays like the famous NCAA Basketball March Madness bracket. The women earned the Pac-10's automatic berth to the tournament for winning the regular season outright, but the men's team had no similar fortune as their regular season loss to USC gave the Trojans the tiebreaker to the automatic bid on the men's side. However, both Cardinal teams will start the tournament at home, as both received the No. 8 overall seed, meaning the Taube Family Tennis Center will host the first and second rounds of the tournament May 14-16. The women will try and run their home streak to 164 straight wins as they take on Fairfield next week, and the men will have Georgia on their minds as they take on Quinnipiac. Stay tuned to the Bootleg for more tennis coverage, and check out the full brackets online at these links: Men's and Women's.


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