Men's Tennis Faces Three Tough Opponents Over Spring Break

March 23, 2009

STANFORD, Calif. - The No. 2 Stanford men's tennis team is gearing up for one of its most challenging stretches of matches of the season this week, in which it will take on No. 7 Baylor in a Tuesday evening match (3/24) in Waco, Texas before beginning Pac-10 competition at home this coming weekend against No. 10 USC and No. 12 UCLA.

Come Tuesday's match with the Bears at 4 p.m. PT, a continuation of the annual HP Cup contest between the two sides, it will be 20 days since the Cardinal last played a dual match, and Stanford will be attempting to make history. The Cardinal has never beaten Baylor in the eight times the two teams have faced each other, a series which began in 1998.

When the two squads last met on Feb. 13, 2008, the Bears took the match 5-2 on The Farm. Matt Bruch was the only man to score a point in singles, while the teams of Alex Clayton and Blake Muller and Greg Hirshman and Richard Wire scored two wins to take the doubles point.

This time around, the matchups will be considerably different. Baylor graduated two of its top-6 from that match, including Lars Poerschke, who played No. 1 singles and Gwen Corches, the Bears' No. 4 man, while Stanford returns everyone who played in that match. No. 13 Clayton will most likely still play in the top slot and against a new opponent this year; Baylor's No. 6 Denes Lukacs, and freshman No. 53 Bradley Klahn has been a solid addition to the roster this season and presumably will fill the No. 2 spot as he has done most of the season, pitting him against No. 49 Jordan Rux.

Baylor (13-5) has suffered two losses against and captured two wins over common opponents with Stanford. The Bears were drubbed 7-0 by No. 8 Florida and fell 4-3 to USC, but has defeated both UCLA and No. 17 Pepperdine 4-3. Baylor is strong at the No. 1 and No. 5 positions, with winning percentages over 75 percent.

On Friday, March 27, Stanford will begin Pac-10 competition against UCLA (9-4) at 1:30 p.m. at Taube Tennis Stadium, and will follow that match with a Saturday dual against USC (13-4) at 1 p.m. The Cardinal is searching to sweep the L.A. schools in all four regular-season dual matches for the first time since 1998, having recently defeated both teams by the score of 4-3 in the first weekend series of this season on February 27-28.

Both teams are significant obstacles in the Cardinal's quest for its first conference championship since 2006, when it was co-champions with the Bruins. UCLA has taken the title the last two seasons, while the last time Stanford won outright was in 2003.

The Bruins are 4-0 against common opponents with the Cardinal, defeating No. 66 BYU, No. 22 Boise State, No. 46 California, and USC, but fell to Baylor. The Trojans are 3-2, falling to No. 3 Georgia and UCLA and beating Sacramento State, No. 11 Texas and Cal, as well as Baylor. The Bruins have five ranked singles players: No. 51 Haythem Abid, No. 74, Michael Look, No. 79 Matt Brooklyn, No. 103 Nick Meister, and No. 125 Holden Seguso. USC has four: No. 4 Robert Farah, No. 75 Abdullah Magdas, No. 92 Steve Johnson, and No. 101 Jaak Poldma. Each team has one ranked doubles pair: No. 58 Abid/Meister (UCLA), and No. 6 Farah/Johnson (USC).

Currently in the Campbell/ITA College Tennis Rankings, besides Clayton and Klahn for Stanford, junior Richard Wire is also ranked in the top-125, checking in at No. 113. The duo of Blake Muller and Wire is also still ranked in doubles, earning the No. 30 spot.

Live scoring for the match at Baylor will be available at BaylorBears.com. Admission to both home matches this weekend is free, but for fans who are unable to attend the matches, live scoring and video will be provided here.

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