HR9: For Klahn, solo title; more to come?

During the summer months, we are releasing the 10 winners of this prestigious award, one by one. We have announced eight winners thus far: gymnast Carly Janinga, soccer's Kelley O'Hara, football's Toby Gerhart, tennis' Hilary Barte, volleyball's Evan Romero, swimmers Elaine Breeden and Julia Smit, and softball's Alissa Haber. Our penultimate Honor Roll winner is tennis' Bradley Klahn.

In a June 15 article, we released the 31 finalists for The Bootleg Honor Roll for the 2009-2010 school year.

The criteria are as follows:

Each academic year, The Bootleg's Honor Roll will recognize the top ten Stanford student-athletes who have performed at an exceptional level, with athletic accomplishments that are both extraordinary and inspirational. While achieving athletic success, these athletes should also have displayed uncommon leadership, sportsmanship and respect towards their fellow teammates and opponents. Finally, these honorees' performances and actions should also demonstrate their love for their particular sport as well as their school pride, the famed "Spirit of Stanford."

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Already in his young career, Bradley Klahn had accomplished plenty to give his fans reasons to think a year like this was coming. He was USTA Boys' 18s No. 1-ranked player in 2008, and, as a true freshman in the 2008-09 school year, Klahn was the ITA National Rookie of the Year, the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year and First Team All-Pac-10, as he swept the Pac-10 singles and doubles titles.

Two items remained on his college to-do list: an individual national championship, and a team national championship.

But after Klahn's sophomore year, we can cross one of those tasks off the list, and have plenty of reason to think the other might not be long in coming.

Klahn finished the year 17-5 in dual meets, all at No. 1 singles, and 24-3 in tournament play for a 41-8 overall mark, good enough for a No. 4 ITA ranking, a ranking that only figures to go up if his performance at the NCAA Championships in Athens, Ga. this past May is at all predictive. There, Klahn twice lost the first set in the six-round tournament. He never lost the second or third sets though, and didn't really come that close, getting taken to a tiebreak just once as he stormed through the field for his first NCAA title, Stanford's first since 2000.

It was a sweet cap to the season for Klahn, who had enjoyed mixed results thus far – winning the Sherwood Cup and ITA Northwest Regionals earlier in the year, but losing in the quarterfinals at the ITA National Indoor Championships and the finals of the Pac-10 Championship. In dual play, Klahn lost three of his first six matches but then went on a tear, finishing 23-3, including a perfect 3-0 when it mattered most – in the team NCAA Championships.

With fellow sophomore Ryan Thacher, Klahn went 40-8 in doubles, making it to the semifinals of the Pac-10 Championships, the ITA All-American Championships and NCAA Championships, the latter two of which the pair lost in tiebreakers. Thacher and Klahn were, however, able to break through though at the Pacific Coast Doubles and the ITA National Indoor Championships, winning both tournaments. Those victories helped Klahn finish an All-American in singles and doubles and a repeat First Team All Pac-10 honoree.

Perhaps most importantly for Stanford fans is that men's tennis, one of the most iconic Stanford sports programs, appears to be on a Klahn-led renaissance. The men finished No. 9 in the country and lose only their No. 4 singles (and No. 2 doubles) player, Richard Wire, to graduation. They have the star they need in Klahn, and with so little leaving and so much returning – seven of this year's 13 players were underclassmen, Klahn included – it's not hard to see the men going much deeper than the Round of 16 in the 2011 and 2012 NCAA Championships.

Should Stanford make a run in the next year or two, they'll need look no further for inspiration than to their own No. 1 player, and a young man who's already gone deep in more than his fair share of tournaments: Bradley Klahn, our ninth Honor Roll winner.


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