Hoping For A Share: No. 12 Stanford Needs Help To Keep Streak Alive

April 15, 2009

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STANFORD, Calif.- No. 12 Stanford enters the final week of the regular season in an unfamiliar position: needing outside help just to claim a share of the Pac-10 title.

Entering this year, Stanford had captured 21 consecutive Pac-10 championships, although last year marked the first time the Cardinal had to share the hardware as UCLA also finished with a 7-1 record. The last time a team not named Stanford won the Pac-10 title was 1987, when California snagged the Southern Division crown and Washington locked up the Northern Division championship.

If Stanford (17-3, 6-1 Pac-10) is to keep that streak alive, it will need some help this weekend regardless of its outcome against No. 8 California (16-4, 6-1 Pac-10). That's because No. 9 USC (19-2, 7-0 Pac-10) has already secured at least a share of the title even if it comes up short against No. 10 UCLA (17-5, 5-2 Pac-10) on Friday afternoon in Westwood. USC defeated Stanford 5-2 in Los Angeles last month, so the Women of Troy own the head-to-head tiebreaker.

But a victory on Saturday for either Stanford or California would translate into a number of positive factors heading into the postseason: momentum, a possible share of the Pac-10 title and bragging rights in what has quickly become a hotly-contested rivalry.

In arguably Stanford's best victory of the year to date, the Cardinal defeated California 4-3 back on Mar. 7 in a heart-pounding thriller that took just over five hours to complete. Trailing 3-1 in the match and despite losing the doubles point, Stanford rallied back with three straight singles wins on the strength of Jessica Nguyen's improbable three-set comeback win over Claire Ilcinkas at the No. 3 position.

The win also extended Stanford's dual match home winning streak at the Taube Family Tennis Stadium to 142 in a row at the time, spanning 10 years since the Cardinal's last loss in a home dual match occurred back on Feb. 27, 1999.

A couple other notes to keep in mind heading into this weekend:

  • That dual match home winning streak remains in tact. Thanks to a 7-0 shutout of No. 45 Pepperdine on Senior Day last week, Stanford has now won 149 in a row (121 in the regular season) on its home court. Stanford's last loss in a home dual match came in the form of a 5-4 setback to No. 4 California more than 10 years ago. Stanford could potentially play two more home matches this year if selected as one of 16 host sites for the NCAA Tournament first and second rounds. If not, the streak continues to 2010.

  • Stanford has won 12 of its last 13 matches, with the only blemish coming against USC last month. But while the Cardinal has continued to take care of business, the team's national ranking has inexplicably either remained the same or dipped a few notches. After being ranked No. 5 for four straight weeks to begin the year, Stanford has not been ranked inside the top-10 since Feb. 10- a span of nine weeks. The Cardinal has experienced little movement in the rankings recently, holding at No. 11 for three consecutive weeks before checking in at No. 10 the last two weeks. Following back-to-back shutouts last week, Stanford actually dropped two spots and now comes in at No. 12.

  • The recent hot stretch has also resulted in a statistics spike for several players. On the singles side, Hilary Barte has moved up to No. 9 in the nation with a 27-4 overall record and 19-1 mark in duals. She has won nine in a row and is 18-4 against nationally-ranked opponents. Carolyn McVeigh (23-8 overall, 17-4 duals) and Lindsay Burdette (20-7 overall, 16-4 duals) have also reached the 20-win mark while Jessica Nguyen sports a team-best 12-match winning streak that has bumped her record to 18-7 overall and 17-3 in duals. Two doubles teams are ranked, led by the No. 10 pairing of Barte and Burdette with a 19-7 overall mark and 16-4 in duals. McVeigh and Nguyen are ranked No. 46, checking in with a 17-3 ledger.

  • Next up after this week's regular season finale at California: the Pac-10 Championships in Ojai, Calif., from Apr. 23-26.
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