The No. 8 Stanford men’s tennis team (5-0, 0-0 Pac-10) remained undefeated in dual-match play yesterday afternoon, dominating Utah at Taube Tennis Stadium by a score of 7-0. Even more impressive for the Cardinal team is the fact that the victory came without two of the squad’s top players—juniors Bradley Klahn and Ryan Thacher.
For their efforts, Thacher and Klahn received a wild-card entry into the doubles draw of the 2011 SAP Open at HP Pavilion in San Jose this week and are scheduled to play their first match Tuesday evening. Klahn, the defending NCAA singles champion, was also awarded a wild-card entry into the singles draw, where he will play the No. 12 player in the world, France’s Gael Monfils, in the first round on Wednesday night.
The inactivity of Klahn and Thacher forced head coach John Whitlinger to reshuffle his lineup. Sophomore Walker Kehrer and freshman Jamin Ball were the beneficiaries, and both recorded their first collegiate dual-match victories in the win.
The tone was set early for the Cardinal, who blitzed the Utes in the doubles matches and the top-three singles matches, securing a victory in the contest early on. Senior Alex Clayton and sophomore Denis Lin filled in admirably for the absent Klahn and Thacher as the Cardinal’s top two players and dispatched their opponents with ease in their singles matches, outscoring them by a combined tally of 24 games to six.
Ball, who was making his first collegiate appearance, won out of the No. 6 spot.
“Everyone played pretty solid and it went well,” Ball said. “For me personally, it was great to get my first win under my belt—I was pretty nervous at first but managed to pull it out in the end.”
Senior Greg Hirshman won at No. 3 in singles play, and sophomore Matt Kandath at No. 4. Kehrer was a straight-set winner at No. 5.
Ball, a top recruit out of nearby Menlo School, is one of three freshmen on the team, each of whom is looking to contribute something to a Stanford team that has been perfect this season.
This weekend looks to be an important one for the Cardinal. The team will face No. 38 BYU on Friday, and on Saturday, Stanford will head over to Berkeley for a match with the No. 19 Golden Bears.
Ball thinks that this type of lopsided win will be good for the team as it prepares for the weekend.
“It’s definitely good, it gets everyone match-tough and on top of their game,” he said. “Cal will be a great match, and there’s definitely a lot on the table with them being our rivals.”
Ball added that he doesn’t think the absence of Klahn and Thacher will negatively affect the team.
“If anything, it fires us up to know that one of our guys will play someone ranked No. 12 in the world on Wednesday night,” he said. “I think it’ll definitely get Brad ready for this weekend.”
The Stanford men’s tennis team must believe it’s in a good place when it can coast to victory without its top two players. The duo will return for this weekend’s action, which opens against the Cougars at 1:30 p.m. on Friday at Taube Tennis Stadium.