No. 13 Stanford, No. 7 California Battle In Key Early-Season Matchup Saturday

March 4, 2009

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STANFORD, Calif.- Stanford hosts California on Saturday afternoon in a pivotal early-season matchup that looms large for both teams, even if the outcome won't affect this season's Pac-10 race.

Despite a sweep of the Washington schools last week at home, Stanford dropped two spots to No. 13 in the latest edition of the ITA rankings. Meanwhile, California fell four spots to No. 7 and hosts Sacramento State on Friday afternoon before arriving on The Farm.

Stanford and California share the Pac-10 lead with a 2-0 mark, although Saturday's match will not count toward the Pac-10 standings. Only the second matchup between the two programs (in this case, Apr. 18 at Berkeley) is factored into the conference race.

That's not to say this weekend's match doesn't carry significance to either team. Having already lost two matches against top-15 opponents earlier this year at the ITA Indoors, Stanford would certainly welcome the momentum that would be generated following a victory over a solid, highly-ranked team like California. Meanwhile, the Golden Bears are a program on the rise coming off a breakthrough year that resulted in an NCAA runner-up finish and feel they must be also included as a potential Pac-10 title contender.

In past years, that has been one-sided discussion dominated by Stanford. The Cardinal joined UCLA as co-Pac-10 champions last year after defeating the Golden Bears 5-2 in the regular season finale for both teams. It was the 21st consecutive Pac-10 title for Stanford, an incredible feat that began in 1988.

But California made Stanford's path difficult last year, stunning the Cardinal 6-1 in Berkeley two months earlier for its first win in the series since 2003. Because it was the first of two meetings, that contest was not counted in the Pac-10 standings.

Stanford enters Saturday's match with a decided home-court advantage. Following a 5-2 win over Washington last Saturday, the Cardinal extended its winning streak at the Taube Family Tennis Stadium to an unthinkable 141 in a row (113 in the regular season). Stanford's last loss in a home match occurred 10 years ago, in the form of a 5-4 setback to No. 4 California in 1999.

All-American Hilary Barte is once again Stanford's top singles threat, checking in at No. 16 this week in the rankings with a team-best record of 18-4 overall and 10-1 in duals. Lindsay Burdette has been perhaps the Cardinal's best player in the early going, compiling a 13-4 record with a 9-1 mark in duals that includes several dominating, straight-set wins. She is ranked No. 121.

Barte and Burdette have also enjoyed success in doubles, teaming at the No. 1 spot and posting a 12-5 overall record and 9-2 in duals. The duo is ranked No. 23.

This week's top-10 is as follows: No. 1 Northwestern, No. 2 Georgia, No. 3 Notre Dame, No. 4 Duke, No. 5 Baylor, No. 6 Miami, No. 7 California, No. 8 Georgia Tech, No. 9 Clemson and No. 10 USC.

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