W. Tennis: Doubles Triumph

April 22, 2010, 12:45 a.m.

Cardinal doubles sweep USC, team prepares for Pac-10 Tournament

With a dominating doubles performance against USC, Stanford earned the outright Pac-10 title. With this momentum, the Stanford women’s tennis team (20-1, 8-0 Pac-10) will head to the Pac-10 Championships, which start today in Ojai, Calif.

The team had to come down earlier than usual on Tuesday in order to play the doubles point of their match against USC. The match was delayed on April 4 with the two teams tied at 3-3. With UCLA having a chance to tie Stanford for the Pac-10 title, the Cardinal needed to close out this match in order to assure itself sole possession of the title. With a Stanford loss, UCLA would have had the opportunity to tie for the title by defeating California in another rain-delayed match.

W. Tennis: Doubles Triumph
Sophomore Veronica Li (above) has been one of strongest members of Stanford's lineup this season. Playing from the sixth singles position, she has a record of 23-6 on the season. (GARNER KROPP/The Stanford Daily)

Yesterday, Stanford came out firing. The team swept the doubles matches, allowing a total of only seven games to their opponents. The third duo of junior Carolyn McVeigh and sophomore Veronica Li came off first with an 8-2 decision, and then the first team of junior Hilary Barte and senior Lindsay Burdette finished with an identical score to clinch the match. The second team of freshmen Mallory Burdette and Stacey Tan completed the sweep with an 8-3 victory. Barte and Lindsay Burdette are ranked No. 2 in the nation, while Mallory Burdette and Tan are No. 26.

The win gives Stanford a 4-3 win over USC, an 8-0 Pac-10 record and the outright Pac-10 title.

“[Head coach] Lele [Forood] gave a really great pre-match speech,” Barte said. “She sat us down and said, ‘Look, we’re Pac-10 Champions either way so just go out there and swing away.’”

At stake in Ojai was Stanford’s NCAA-record home winning streak. Late Tuesday, the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) stated that the matchup between Stanford and USC at Ojai would count as a home match, since the entirety of the singles competition was played at Taube Family Tennis Stadium. The Cardinal defended its streak of 162 consecutive home victories at a neutral site that is closer to USC than to the Farm.

“This is what our team wanted to do,” Forood said. “We’ve certainly never done this before. I can’t even remember one time we actually finished a match at Ojai so it was really unique territory.”

The Pac-10 Championships will serve as the last practice before NCAA Tournament play. Singles play takes place on Thursday, doubles play is on Friday and the championship matches are on Sunday.

Heading into the weekend, Stanford is nationally ranked at No. 9. The team is on a 12-match win streak since last losing Feb. 26 at UCLA, its only defeat of the season. The Cardinal’s most recent win came over No. 12 Cal this past weekend, as it completed the season sweep of its Bay Area rival with a 5-2 victory highlighted by strong play at the bottom of the lineup.

“Both times I didn’t know I was the clincher until after the match,” Li said. “The team ran over and pulled me to the ground, but it was a really good feeling afterwards knowing that my match decided it.”

The play of McVeigh and Li at the five and six spots has been essential to Stanford’s success this season. With two of the best records on the team, McVeigh stands at 21-7 and Li stands at 23-6. The pair also combines to be Stanford’s No. 3 doubles team and enters the Pac-10 Tournament on a 13-match win streak together.

“We’ve learned more about each other’s game and what works for both of us and what doesn’t,” Li said. “We’ve learned how to work together and how to play together. We both really enjoy playing doubles and competing so we try to make every match out there really fun for us.”

Although the players at the top few spots have struggled recently, the bottom of the lineup’s ability to win has benefited the entire team and its morale.

“That is the number one most awesome thing we can bring from the past couple matches,” Lindsay Burdette said. “The way Hilary and I have been struggling at the top of the lineup a few times has really given the backside this awesome sense of pride. They’re definitely gaining extra confidence from that.”

Stanford opens up play at the Pac-10 Championships today at 8 a.m.

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