The Stanford women’s tennis team has made winning seem easy in the beginning of the spring season. The Cardinal returned with the singles and doubles crown at both the NCTC Classic and the Freeman Memorial Championships and kick-started a spring season that looks to be filled with promise.
“It was a huge win for the team,” said head coach LeLe Forood. “It brings up the level of expectation on this team, how everyone feels about each other and the confidence level as a result.”
The team split up this past weekend, sending half the team to compete at the NCTC Classic while the other half played at the Freeman Memorial Championships. Junior Hilary Barte defeated USC’s Maria Sanchez 7-5, 6-2 to claim the singles championship of the NCTC Classic in a match between two highly ranked individuals. She then paired up with senior Lindsay Burdette to defeat UCLA’s Andrea Remynse and Yasmin Schnack 8-6 for the doubles championship, both teams placing in the top 10 nationally. Junior Jennifer Yen and sophomore Logan Hansen also participated, both losing in the round of 16.
The freshmen led the way at the Freeman Memorial Championships, with Stacey Tan and Natalie Dillon winning their respective divisions. Tan also teamed up with fellow freshman Mallory Burdette to win the doubles crown over North Carolina’s Sophie Grabinski and Sanaz Marand 8-6 and improving their record to 8-2 overall. This was an exciting doubles win, as the two were unranked as a team and overcame the No. 6-ranked UNC duo. In singles, Tan won five matches before coming away with the trophy, the last three of those coming against UNC players. In the final, she beat Katrina Tsang of UNC 7-6, 6-2.
“It was a good experience,” Tan said. “It was different being in Vegas, playing a tournament there. There were a lot of good players there.”
Tan’s transition to team tennis has been smooth, especially considering that her doubles experience has been limited. She played singles in high school and attempted a few WTA tour matches, but doubles was largely left out of the picture. She attributes her recent success at doubles to her partner, Mallory Burdette.
“We fit really well together,” said Tan. “I didn’t usually play doubles that much before I came here, so when I started, it was really different. I didn’t know what to do, where to move. [Mallory] had more experience at it, so she could help me out a lot. It’s so much more fun than I thought it would be.”
Dillon, who previously hadn’t gotten to the final of a tournament during her time at Stanford, managed to string together a series of very impressive and hard fought wins to win the flight two championship at the Freeman Memorial Championship. Fighting her way through two three-setters in the semifinals and the final, she came away with a final victory over UNLV’s Rumyana Terzieva 6-4, 6-7, 6-2 and her first tournament win at Stanford.
“Winning her draw was huge,” Forood said. “It’s huge for her to know that she can compete at the Division-I level and be successful because she comes in with less experience. It’s all about exposure and becoming comfortable with the level and I think that win went a long way toward getting her there.”
Looking forward, team play begins next. Stanford’s first opponent is Hawai’i, followed by UC-Davis at home. Unfortunately, most of the team’s Pac-10 matches will take place away from the Farm this year. USC, UCLA and Cal will be the only teams hosted at home, but those come toward the end of the season in April.
“This is going to be our road year,” said Forood. “We’ve got big home matches in April, largely. When you look at our home schedule winter quarter, it is essentially nonconference. I see our big matches being on the road this quarter. Texas, the LAs, at Cal, so we’re gearing up for some big road games.”
The players are excited for team play to begin as well. When asked about the upcoming Pac-10 matches, Tan expressed her excitement by saying, “you’re not just playing for yourself. You’re playing for the entire team and for the school, for Stanford.