What You Need To Know:<BR>NCAA First Round- No. 8 Stanford vs. Fairfield
May 12, 2010
WHAT'S ON TAP...
No. 8 Stanford Cardinal (20-1, 8-0 Pac-10)
- vs. -
Fairfield Stags (19-5, 7-0 MAAC)
WHERE WE STAND...
Stanford (20-1, 8-0 Pac-10) will be making its 29th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance when first round competition gets underway this weekend. Ranked No. 8 in the latest edition of the national ITA rankings, the Cardinal has also been awarded the No. 8 overall seed in the postseason draw. All first and second round matches are played at campus sites. The final 16 teams square off at the NCAA Championships, hosted by Georgia in Athens, Ga., beginning Thursday, May 20. The national championship match is set for Tuesday, May 25.
HOW STANFORD GOT HERE...
After its run of 21 consecutive Pac-10 championships came to an end last year, Stanford is right back in its familiar spot atop the league standings. The Cardinal finished 8-0 in one of the toughest conferences in the nation, winning the Pac-10 title outright and snagging the league's automatic bid. Since suffering its only loss of the year (6-1 at UCLA) back on Feb. 26, Stanford has won 13 matches in a row. Those are pretty impressive credentials for a team that, ironically enough, may not yet have played its best tennis.
HOW FAIRFIELD GOT HERE...
Fairfield (19-5, 7-0 MAAC) earned an automatic berth after winning the MAAC title. The Stags, who also claimed the regular season title with a 7-0 mark, have captured nine MAAC crowns in program history. Fairfield is making its second straight NCAA Tournament appearance and third in school history. The Stags were shipped out to the West Coast last year also, ending up at USC.
IN SINGLES, YOU'LL NEED TO FOLLOW...
The lone senior on Stanford's roster, Lindsay Burdette is also a three-time All-American. She has been nationally-ranked in both singles and doubles pretty much her entire career. She comes from a winning Stanford pedigree, joining sisters Erin (four-time All-American from 2002-05) and Mallory (currently crushing opponents as a freshman). However, she has struggled mightily in her final season and has won just four of her last 15 contests. But the postseason represents a blank slate, and what better way to get back on track than with a victory in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. If Burdette starts producing at the No. 2 position like her track record suggests she is capable of, Stanford instantly becomes a legitimate threat to make a deep run.
DOUBLES FAN? HERE'S YOUR MATCHUP...
Just like their counterparts on the men's side, Stanford has been dominant in doubles all season long. Playing at the No. 2 position has not sidetracked the all-freshman pairing of Mallory Burdette and Stacey Tan. The impressive duo is ranked No. 56 nationally, chalking up a 26-6 overall record and an 18-3 mark in duals. In addition to playing well against nationally-ranked foes (4-1 so far), Burdette and Tan pieced together a 13-match winning streak earlier this year that spanned nearly two months. They will likely be tested by Fairfield's No. 2 team of Gretchen Amberg and Dana Postupack (10-0 overall).
WHY THE CARDINAL SHOULD ADVANCE...
Simply put, the early rounds should provide little- if any- resistance. That's because those matches will be played at the Taube Family Tennis Stadium. The Cardinal has won an NCAA-record 162 matches in a row at home (132 regular season + 30 NCAA Tournament), with the last loss coming back on Feb. 27, 1999, when No. 4 California pulled a 5-4 upset. In fact, Stanford has won more matches on its home court (162) than Fairfield has won overall (134) over the last 11 years.
WHY THIS ONE WILL BE TOUGH...
The Stags enter the postseason riding an eight-match winning streak and have lost just once since Mar. 20. Plus it's been a benchmark year for Fairfield, which needs one more victory to establish a school record for wins in a single season. Interestingly enough, the Stags' best numbers come at the lower spots of their singles and doubles lineups. So keep an eye on the back courts for any chance at an upset. Otherwise, Fairfield head coach Ed Paige must somehow convince his troops there is more to this trip than sunny weather and Bay Area sightseeing.
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