Pac-10 Tennis Championship Storylines: Klahn Defending His Titles, Women In Unique Position
April 20, 2010
STANFORD, Calif.- Both Stanford tennis teams will shift their focus to individual competition this weekend, as the Pac-10 Championships get underway on Thursday morning in Ojai, Calif.
With the regular season in the books, the Pac-10 Championships serve as the final tune-up before NCAA Tournament first and second round action begins in three weeks. Singles competition begins Thursday and doubles play follows Friday, leading into Sunday's championship matches.
The men will open play on Thursday while the women are placed in the unique position of having to complete an important dual match against USC with an outright Pac-10 title and possible home winning streak on the line despite actually finishing the match at a neutral site.
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A season-high seven-match winning streak has vaulted Stanford (18-5, 5-1 Pac-10) to No. 7 in the latest edition of the national rankings. Included in that stretch are crucial road victories over No. 9 UCLA (4-3) on Apr. 3 and No. 13 California (6-1) on Apr. 17 in the regular season finale.
The aforementioned win over the Golden Bears resulted in Stanford earning a share of the Pac-10 championship with USC. It's the first time Stanford has claimed the hardware since being crowned co-champions with UCLA in 2006. However, the Trojans are locked in as the Pac-10's automatic qualifier because USC defeated Stanford 5-2 back on Apr. 2.
Stanford is well-represented in the Pac-10 Championships draw. Regular starters Alex Clayton, Greg Hirshman, Bradley Klahn, Denis Lin, Ryan Thacher and Richard Wire are in the Pac-10 singles field. Sam Ecker, Walker Kehrer and Matt Kandath will play in the Invitational division. Doubles teams in the Pac-10 division include Klahn/Thacher, Clayton/Wire and Kandath/Lin. The pairing of Kehrer/Hirshman will participate in the Invitational division.
Of course, all eyes will be on Klahn, who sets out to defend his titles in both singles and doubles. Last year, Klahn became the fourth player in school history to win both the Pac-10 singles and doubles championships in the same year, joining Alex O'Brien (1992), Sam Warburg (2005) and Matt Bruch (2007).
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Stanford (19-1, 7-0 Pac-10) has moved up to No. 9 in the country and should be a strong candidate for a favorable seed in the NCAA Tournament, having won 12 straight matches since suffering its only loss of the year back on Feb. 26, a 6-1 defeat to then-No. 4 UCLA in Los Angeles.
The Cardinal defeated No. 12 California 5-2 over the weekend, completing a season sweep of the rival Golden Bears while capturing a share of the Pac-10 title and extending its NCAA-record home winning streak to an eye-popping 161 matches.
However, before Stanford can think about the Pac-10 Championships, there is technically still one dual match left to complete. There is an opportunity for UCLA (19-3, 6-1 Pac-10) to tie Stanford with a 7-1 conference record and claim a share of the Pac-10 title. That's because Stanford's match against USC back on Apr. 4 was suspended by rain at 3-3 with the doubles point still yet to be played.
So the Cardinal and Women of Troy will play out that doubles point at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Apr. 21, in Ojai, Calif. If Stanford wins the doubles point, the Cardinal improves to 8-0 and captures the crown outright and there will be no more matches played that afternoon. If USC win the doubles point, UCLA will then play a full dual match against California because their Apr. 2 match was also cancelled by rain. A win by the Bruins would make them Pac-10 co-champions with the Cardinal. But Stanford would receive the Pac-10's automatic bid to the postseason thanks to its 5-2 victory over UCLA back on Apr. 3. Both Stanford and UCLA are essentially guaranteed NCAA Tournament berths, as the programs have been ranked among the top-10 throughout the season.
Late Tuesday afternoon, the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) determined the Stanford-USC match would count as a home match, since the original singles competition was played at the Taube Family Tennis Stadium on Apr. 4 with each team collecting three points apiece to force a 3-3 tie. That means the Cardinal will put its NCAA-record home winning streak of 161 matches on the line in a completely different city. The streak spans 11 years since No. 4 California pulled a 5-4 upset back on Feb. 27, 1999.