No. 5 Stanford Faces No. 8 UCLA, No. 9 USC In Critical Homestand
April 1, 2008
STANFORD, Calif.- Coming off a busy four-match, six-day stretch that included three straight road contests, No. 5 Stanford returns to Taube Family Tennis Stadium for arguably its most challenging homestand of the year.
The Cardinal, 13-4 on the year and 1-1 in Pac-10 play, will host No. 8 USC (15-4) on Friday, April 4, at 1:30 p.m. before taking on No. 9 UCLA (14-4) on Saturday, Apr. 5, at noon.
Stanford will be facing USC and UCLA for the second time this year, therefore results from this weekend's matches will count in the Pac-10 standings. Earlier this year on the road, the Cardinal was edged 4-3 by UCLA on Feb. 29 before rebounding for a 4-3 victory over USC the following day. Both UCLA and USC were ranked No. 11 in the nation at the time.
The Cardinal split its road trip against the Arizona schools last week and stands at 1-1 so far in conference play. Last weekend's split makes the upcoming homestand even more important as Pac-10 competition continues over the next two weeks. Stanford has won 21 straight conference titles dating back to 1988 and a solid weekend against the Southern California schools would help keep that streak in tact.
Battling injuries and playing with a shuffled lineup for much of the year, Stanford has dropped four matches in a season for the first time since a 22-4 finish back in 1987. Those are unfamiliar numbers to a Cardinal program that has captured the NCAA championship in five of the last seven seasons and did not lose a match from 2004-07.
Playing at home should help. With a 6-1 victory over Cal Poly on Mar. 24, Stanford has now won 101 consecutive regular season dual matches on The Farm. Throw in a 26-0 record in NCAA Tournament matches played at Taube Family Tennis Stadium and the Cardinal has not been defeated in the last 127 contests played on its home court. Stanford's last home loss occurred on Feb. 27, 1999, when No. 4 California pulled a 5-4 upset.
Doubles play has proven to be a strength for the Cardinal so far this year, as the club has claimed the doubles point in 14 of its 17 matches. Two squads are ranked nationally, as the team of freshman Hilary Barte and sophomore Lindsay Burdette have posted a 10-8 mark (10-8 dual) at the No. 1 spot while senior Whitney Deason and junior Jessica Nguyen are 15-4 (11-4 dual) at the No. 2 position. Stanford's No. 3 duo of senior Celia Durkin and freshman Carolyn McVeigh has enjoyed success as well, notching an 11-4 mark (11-4 dual).
In singles action, Nguyen and McVeigh are tied for the club lead with 22 singles victories overall. Nguyen has played primarily at the No. 2 spot and is 22-9 overall and 11-5 in duals. McVeigh has shifted between the Nos. 5 and 6 spots in the lineup, registering a 22-6 overall mark and 13-3 dual match ledger. Nguyen and McVeigh are a combined 19-3 in home matches this year.
Perhaps the most impressive performance so far has come from fellow rookie Barte. The 5-5 freshman from Chatsworth, Calif., is 19-5 overall and 14-3 in dual match play. Since being inserted into the No. 1 slot of the lineup back on Feb. 22, Barte is undefeated in 11 consecutive matches. She is 10-1 against Pac-10 opponents, 12-3 versus nationally-ranked foes and 12-1 in home matches.
Burdette, Deason and Durkin have also been fixtures in the Cardinal lineup while freshman Jennifer Yen has chipped in with a 6-2 mark.
The latest edition of the ITA rankings has Northwestern holding down the top spot in the country, followed by No. 2 Georgia Tech, No. 3 Florida, No. 4 Baylor, No. 5 Stanford, No. 6 California, No. 7 Duke, No. 8 USC, No. 9 UCLA and No. 10 Georgia.