Hoping For A Share: No. 12 Stanford Needs Help To Keep Streak Alive
April 15, 2009
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: