What You Need To Know:<BR>NCAA Round of 16: No. 13 Stanford vs. No. 4 Baylor

May 12, 2009

Updated Results (as of May 11) Get Acrobat Reader

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    No. 13 Stanford Cardinal (19-4, 6-2 Pac-10)
    - vs. -
    No. 4 Baylor Lady Bears (26-4, 11-0 Big 12)

  • NCAA Women's Tennis Championships - Round of 16
  • Friday, May 15, 2009 - 4 p.m. PT
  • George P. Mitchell Tennis Center - College Station, TX
  • Weather Forecast: 87 degrees, scattered thunderstorms

    In College Station, Texas, where Texas A&M will serve as the host site for this year's NCAA Championships. We are down to 16 teams on both the men's and women's side, with the team portion of the championships running through Tuesday, May 19, before the individual tourney starts Wednesday, May 20. Unpredictable weather and sudden thunderstorms are always a concern in these parts, and that's the forecast over the next few days leading into the weekend.

    The NCAA Women's Championships are back in the state of Texas for the first time since 1986, when Austin last rolled out the welcome mat. Stanford won the national championship that year, defeating USC 5-4. Traditional host sites such as Stanford, Calif., Athens, Ga., and Gainesville, Fla., have all hosted the tourney at least four times since then. But Texas A&M gets the honor this year, showcasing one of the top facilities in the country in the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center. The 3000-seat facility opened its doors in 1998, and hosted the NCAA Men's Championships in 2002 and 2005.

    The revenge factor: Baylor stunned Stanford 4-1 in last year's NCAA quarterfinal round, representing Stanford's earliest postseason exit since a second round departure in 1998. It was Stanford's worst postseason loss since a 5-1 setback against Texas in 1995.

    Stanford looked extremely sharp last weekend during the NCAA first and second rounds, posting 4-0 shutouts of unranked Wichita State and No. 25 LSU while extending its dual match home winning streak to an eye-popping 151 in the process. Tabbed as the tournament's No. 13 overall seed, Stanford enters this postseason playing the unfamiliar role of an underdog. Despite having won 15 NCAA championships and five of the last eight overall, Stanford's streak of 21 consecutive Pac-10 titles came to a halt this year and the Cardinal has been ranked outside of the top-10 for 11 straight weeks. Despite taking a different path to the postseason, it would be foolish to overlook the most storied women's tennis program in NCAA history.

    One year after producing the most successful season in school history with a 32-3 record and NCAA Tournament semifinal appearance, No. 4 seed Baylor (26-4, 11-0 Big 12) wants to be included in the national championship discussion. The Lady Bears enter Friday's contest riding a 20-match winning streak, with their last loss coming in the form of a 4-3 defeat against California back on Mar. 10. Baylor blanked Texas-Arlington 4-0 in its NCAA first round match before having to work a little harder than expected in a 4-2 win over SMU in the second round. Baylor also captured its fifth straight Big 12 championship, finishing undefeated in league play for the fourth time in the last five years. The Lady Bears followed that effort with a Big 12 Tournament title.

    Let's put the spotlight on senior Jessica Nguyen at the No. 3 spot. Stanford's only senior in the starting lineup, Nguyen is a fighter and without a berth in the NCAA Singles Championship, the two-time All-American knows that her next match might be the last of her career. The lone holdover from Stanford's last NCAA championship squad in 2006, Nguyen has racked up 87 career singles wins along the way. More importantly, she has elevated her game when the Cardinal has needed it most this year. The best example? With the program's 10-year home winning streak in serious jeopardy, Nguyen turned a 5-3 third-set deficit into a 7-5 victory and help Stanford rally from a 3-1 hole during a 4-3 win over California on Mar. 7. She has steamrolled her first two opponents in the postseason and is the only Stanford player to finish both matches so far.

    Stanford has not lost the doubles point since Mar. 28 against USC, and that's because the team's No. 1 duo of Hilary Barte and Lindsay Burdette has been clicking. Ranked as the No. 8 doubles team in the country, Barte and Burdette sport a 22-7 overall record and own a 10-6 mark against nationally-ranked foes. The pair has won seven matches in a row and 14 of the last 16 overall. During the current seven-match win streak, Barte and Burdette have not surrendered more than four games. Baylor will counter with its top tandem of Csilla Borsanyi and Lenka Broosova, ranked No. 13th in the nation with a 24-11 record but not exactly oozing confidence after being upset 8-4 on their home court by SMU's No. 1 team last weekend to hand the doubles point to the Mustangs.

    There are a couple lengthy streaks on the line here: Stanford has advanced to the NCAA quarterfinal round 10 consecutive years and the Cardinal is looking to reach the 20-win plateau for the 28th straight season. After shuffling its lineup throughout the year, head coach Lele Forood knows her squad is playing at a high level and this is the right time to be doing it. Stanford's top two doubles squads have been playing up to their national ranking and that 1-0 lead is critical. All-American Hilary Barte (32-5 overall, 21-1 duals) has basically been unstoppable, and she'll oppose Baylor's Taylor Ormond, who is just 10-12 at the No. 1 spot and 27-20 overall on the year. If the Cardinal can lock up two quick points there, that would be a good start. Also, this year's Baylor lineup is missing three key singles pieces from last year, including 2008 NCAA Singles runner-up and spell checker enemy Zuzana Zemenova.

    As soon as the brackets were announced, Stanford fans knew a rematch with Baylor would be inevitable. And the Lady Bears are stacked once again. While Baylor's 2009 squad has a slightly different look from last year's bunch, four singles players are nationally-ranked and four have posted at least 20 dual match wins. Baylor's strength is a killer middle of the singles lineup rotation: Lenka Broosova has won 17 in a row at the No. 2 position, Jelena Stanivuk is riding a 15-match winning streak at No. 3, Csilla Borsanyi is unbeaten in 18 matches at No. 4 and Nina Secerbegovic owns a 19-match win streak at the No. 5 spot. It's a neutral site technically, but Baylor fans swarmed to Tulsa's Michael D. Case Tennis Center last year and provided the Lady Bears with a considerable advantage. There's no reason to think they won't make the 92-mile drive south this year to cheer on Joey Scrivano's bunch.

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