What You Need To Know:<BR>NCAA First Round- No. 7 Stanford vs. Quinnipiac

May 11, 2010

No. 7 Stanford Cardinal (18-5, 5-1 Pac-10)
- vs. -
Quinnipiac Bobcats (10-4, 2-2 NEC)

  • NCAA Men's Tennis Championships - First Round
  • Saturday, May 15, 2009 - 12 p.m.
  • Taube Family Tennis Stadium - Stanford, CA
  • Weather Forecast: 78 degrees, brilliant sunshine

    Stanford (18-5, 5-1 Pac-10) will be making its 31st all-time NCAA Tournament appearance (since the current format began in 1977) when first round competition gets underway at campus sites this weekend. Despite being ranked No. 7 in the latest edition of the national ITA rankings, the Cardinal has been tabbed as 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 Friday, May 21. The national championship match is set for Tuesday, May 25.

    Riding a season-high seven-match winning streak, Stanford earned a share of the Pac-10 regular season championship with USC. It's the first time the Cardinal has claimed the league hardware since being crowned co-champions with UCLA in 2006. Stanford has locked up quality wins this year against the likes of Kentucky, Boise State, Illinois, Michigan and UCLA. Two more victories and the Cardinal will have recorded back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time since 2002-03.

    Quinnipiac qualified for the field of 64 after securing the Northeast Conference Tournament title. Despite being seeded third in the league tourney, Quinnipiac caught fire and won three matches over three days. The Bobcats are making their fourth NCAA Tournament appearance over the last seven years, facing Harvard in 2004, Illinois in 2005 and Stanford in 2006.

    Bradley Klahn has pounded opponents at No. 1. Wins from Greg Hirshman at No. 6 have been essentially automatic. But let's put the spotlight on sophomore Ryan Thacher, who has been as solid as a rock at the No. 3 position. Thacher's 25 victories are second only behind Klahn while his 18 dual match wins are tied for the team lead. And he has been one of Stanford's hottest players down the stretch, winning nine of his last 11 contests entering the NCAA Tournament. Ranked No. 84 nationally, Thacher has consistently provided the Cardinal with a point from his court.

    Doubles play has been a strength for Stanford this season, as the Cardinal has captured the doubles point in all but three matches. The doubles lineup is strong up and down all three courts. That includes the freshman pairing of Matt Kandath and Denis Lin, as the duo has chalked up a 16-8 overall record and 13-4 dual match ledger at the No. 3 spot. That includes a 7-2 record in home matches. However, this is the postseason and the stakes are higher, so it will be interesting to see how Kandath and Lin perform in their postseason debuts. Facing Quinnipiac's team of Charles Feldman and Dillon Kraus, which is 3-7 over its last 10 matches, should make for a good start.

    Following a three-year absence from the postseason, all 10 players on the Quinnipiac roster will be making their NCAA Tournament debut this year. That doesn't bode well against a Stanford club that is simply far more experienced and has tested itself against some of the best teams in the country this year. And after missing out on the postseason completely in 2007, Stanford is aiming to continue its winning progression over the last two seasons (a return to the NCAA Tournament in 2008, the round of 16 in 2009, etc.). The first step in this year's journey should be a quick one.

    Three consecutive days of impressive tennis in West Windsor, N.J., last month was enough to catch Stanford's attention. Quinnipiac put it together and caught fire in the NEC Tournament, leaving the conference's two favorites (Sacred Heart, Fairleigh Dickinson) in the dust and avenging earlier losses to those squads in the regular season. You could even say the Bobcats are 'fresher' than the Cardinal. They have played nine fewer matches than Stanford- a remarkable number- although that's mainly due to typical frigid weather in the Northeast. For Quinnipiac to have any shot, senior John Hughes will have to be a factor, as he has not dropped a singles match since Mar. 26.

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