W. Tennis: Heading home

Feb. 11, 2010, 12:43 a.m.

Coming home after a successful weekend in Texas, the No. 14 Stanford women’s tennis team (4-0) hopes to keep this year’s undefeated streak going as it takes on No. 59 Sacramento State (3-1).

The Cardinal was faced with two challenging Texas teams that proved to play above their rankings — and against a home crowd that was out for blood. Successfully rising to the task, Stanford defeated TCU, 6-1 and Texas, 5-2 to come home with the wins. Now, the Cardinal faces a

W. Tennis: Heading home
Junior Hilary Barte hopes to continue her doubles success with her partner, senior Lindsay Burdette. The pair has won 16 consecutive matches and is ranked No. 2 in the nation. The No. 14 Stanford women’s tennis team will face off against No. 59 Sacramento State today at the Taube Family Tennis Stadium. (Stanford Daily File Photo)

team back at Taube Family Tennis Stadium with all the force of history on its side. The Cardinal’s streak of 153 home wins in a row, the longest active home winning streak in NCAA Division I athletics, means it has not seen a loss here since Feb. 27, 1999.

“That’s the way we look at it,” said senior captain Lindsay Burdette. “If we play at home, we win. We obviously expect to win every time we step on the court no matter where we are. However, if [the streak] ends, we as a team are strong enough this year that we can have something catastrophic happen and still recover.”

Does a streak like that add to the pressure faced by some of the newer players on the team?

“Not so much the winning streak,” said freshman Mallory Burdette. “I feel like the Stanford legacy in general is more — I don’t want to say pressure, but it’s definitely in the back of your mind. I just really want to continue that. It motivates you.”

What has really helped the team rush out to a 4-0 start this year has been the doubles action. Stanford had not lost a doubles match, nor really been challenged, until this weekend at Texas when freshmen Stacey Tan and Mallory Burdette lost at the No. 2 spot, 9-8 (5). Even in that match, they were ahead until a spirited comeback by the Texas duo brought it to a tiebreak.

“Stacey and I pretty much lost the doubles because we got heckled a lot,” Mallory said. “We were up match point when [the Texas men’s team] came over and started talking to us between points. We ended up losing in a tiebreaker, which was frustrating.”

Junior Hilary Barte and Lindsay Burdette lead the Cardinal as the No. 2 team nationally. They have won 16 consecutive matches, including tournament play, and are 17-1 overall and 5-0 in dual play. Their closest dual match win was 8-3 against Texas, and their one loss came at the beginning of the year against Tennessee, when they dropped an 8-4 decision.

“Doubles is really great,” Lindsay said. “We still have that confidence that if we stick to our bread and butter, we’re going to be competitive no matter who we play.”

The two have been partners for three years and amassed an overall record of 61-21. They have achieved their highest national ranking this year at No. 2, and they went all the way to the NCAA Doubles Championships last year before losing to Cal’s Mari Andersson and Jana Juricova, 6-3, 6-4. The pair has come together and constantly improved with each match they play.

“It’s been a long road, but I love playing doubles with Lindsay,” Barte said. “It’s pretty special because I feel like we’re at that point where if I closed my eyes, I’d still know exactly where she’s staying and how she’d hit the ball.”

Stanford’s opponent this week is Sacramento State. Despite dropping a dual match to Cal, the team has toughed out several wins, including a 4-3 decision over the Oregon Ducks. When the Hornets have won the doubles point, they have gone on to win the day every match this year.

Against Cal, the No. 1 team of Clarisse Baca and Katrina Zheltova was actually fairly close behind Cal’s team of Juricova and Andersson when play was halted at 6-4.

In singles play, Sacramento State boasts a powerful player in senior Katrina Zheltova, last week’s Big Sky Tennis Player of the Week. She took No. 2-ranked Juricova to three sets before succumbing, and has a ranking for herself at No. 26. Under her leadership, the Hornets have been picked to repeat as Big Sky Champions for the eighth consecutive time.

The match begins at 1:30 p.m. today against Sacramento State.

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