Another drizzly day lead to a hectic pregame warm-up, but when the Stanford women’s tennis team (2-0) finally played its matches against UC-Davis, there were no problems as the Cardinal came away with a 7-0 sweep.
Stanford won in straight-sets in all six singles matches, surrendering a mere 18 games combined compared to 72 games won. Junior Hilary Barte and sophomore Veronica Li posted the best results, with two 6-0, 6-1 wins at the No. 1 and No. 6 spots, respectively. Barte’s win came over an old opponent, Desiree Stone.
“We actually go way back,” Barte said. “We’ve known each other since we were 10, and that definitely played into the psychology of the match a lot. It’s not like she didn’t play well, I think she just lost her will to fight at the end.”
Doubles were well contested by the Aggies, but Cardinal domination was the end result again. Barte and her partner, senior Lindsay Burdette, defeated their opposing team, Legaspi and Stone, 8-1, putting them at 15-1 for the year and now on a 14-match winning streak.
Rain haunted the team all day, coming down for a few minutes and then letting up again. The women didn’t know how long they would be able to play for, or if they could play at all.
“We spent a phenomenal amount of time trying to get the courts ready,” said head coach Lele Forood. “It drizzled three times, and it was just an effort to get the whole thing in. We were delighted to get all the singles and doubles done.”
Unfortunately, Stanford’s upcoming road trip to Texas won’t prove the escape to the sun that the team had hoped. With expected forecasts in the low 60s, it will be similar weather to the Bay Area. The team is already planning to use the indoor courts for practice. Otherwise, preparation will mostly involve getting ahead on schoolwork.
“Tomorrow, hopefully if it doesn’t rain, we’ll have regular practice,” Barte said. “We have a really early flight on Thursday so we’ll try to get a lot of sleep and catch up on school work before we leave. It’s midterm week, and that’s tough on all the players.”
One match today that proved the effect midterms were having on the players was freshman Stacey Tan’s at the No. 4 spot. With a final score of 6-2, 6-4, it was far from a horrible showing, but that just gives credit to her focus on the court. She lost a little of that focus at the end, showing some anger in a ball smacked at the court, but all that was put behind her as Stacey stopped the slide and kept the match from going to a third set.
“[Stacey] started really well, but she dropped some games at the end of the match and that’s what made it a little closer,” Forood said. “She had a lot of midterm stuff on her mind. It’s definitely something that affects your physical play, when school gets in your head.”
Distractions will not end when the weekend comes, as now the players will need to contend with the raucous Texas crowd. With a fan base that comes out in force for its players, matches can get intense, and that will be a big difference between Stanford’s past two home matches and this upcoming weekend.
“Being away is always different from playing at home,” Barte said. “[Assistant coach] Frankie [Brennan] mentioned that Texas historically has a hostile crowd, but we’ve seen it before. I personally like it. I don’t mind when people are cheering against me. It gets me pumped up.”
Atmospheres like this one, away from home and facing a tough home crowd, are what Forood want for her team. She believes the preparation the team gets now will only help it going into the bigger matches coming later in the season.
“We’ve got to learn to play well at both ends,” Forood said. “This is a season where we’re going to play lots of significant matches on the road this quarter. We’ll see, but we have to learn how to handle both home and away.”
Texas and Texas Christian University will prove to be great measuring sticks for the Cardinal as it prepares to test out its limits for the season. These matches, which will be played on Friday and Saturday, may show just how far this Stanford team can go.