The Stanford men’s tennis team is getting hot at the right time of the season. All year, head coach John Whitlinger has stressed that his goal as a coach is to get his team ready “to play their best tennis in May.” It seems as if Whitlinger’s dreams just might come true, as his team is currently riding a season-best six-match winning streak with May—and the postseason—quickly approaching.
The Cardinal’s recent stretch of winning play appears even more impressive when the quality of its opponents are taken into consideration, as all have been high-caliber teams—No. 13 UCLA, No. 31 Tulsa, No. 56 Arizona, No. 29 San Diego State, No. 22 Washington and No. 70 Oregon.
With four matches left in the regular season, all of which will be played at home in the Taube Tennis Stadium, the Cardinal is looking to finish its season in style and to prepare for the upcoming Pac-10 championships, held April 28 to May 1 in Ojai, Calif.
Stanford’s stretch run began today against the No. 52 Boise State Broncos. Coming out of the competitive Western Athletic Conference, the Broncos have had a very successful season so far, having compiled a 13-11 record and, entering the match against Stanford on Thursday, were in the midst of their very own six-match winning streak. The Broncos are led, in both singles and doubles play, by South African junior Damian Hume. On Thursday, Hume drew the difficult task of facing the Cardinal’s No. 1 player, junior Bradley Klahn.
Stanford jumped all over Boise State early, dominating the match from the very beginning. Klahn and senior teammate Ryan Thacher dismantled the Bronco’s top doubles team of Humes and Scott Sears, 8-5. When the No. 2 doubles team for the Cardinal, featuring sophomores Matt Kandath and Dennis Lin, defeated their Boise State opponents 8-3, Stanford had locked up the match’s first point—and was well on its way to victory.
In singles play, Stanford looked even stronger than in doubles. The Cardinal won three matches—which gave it the four points needed to win the match—in very quick succession. The Cardinal didn’t drop a set and outscored the Broncos in those three matches by a combined game score of 32-8. The upperclassmen for the Cardinal took care of these first three matches, with Klahn winning 6-1, 6-0 over Hume, Thacher taking out his opponent Filipp Pogotskin 6-3, 6-1 and senior Alex Clayton defeating Andrew Bettles of Boise State 6-1, 6-2.
Leading 4-0 in the match and having already clinched a victory, Stanford went 2-1 in the three remaining contests. Freshman Jamin Ball, playing out of the six spot, had probably his most impressive outing of the year against the Broncos, showing that, as the year has progressed, so has he. Against the older and more experienced junior Freddy Walsh, Ball showed why he was such a highly touted prospect out of nearby Menlo School, blitzing Walsh to the tune of a 6-2, 6-1 rout.
“It was nice to get a win.” Ball said. “I’ve had some tough matches the last couple times out there.”
With the victory, the Stanford men’s tennis team has now won seven in a row —by far its longest winning streak of the year. The playoffs are looming, but, as Ball attests, the team’s confidence is growing with every victory.
“Confidence is huge in tennis, and we’re gaining more and more with every match,” he said.
Stanford will next face No. 70 San Francisco on Monday at 3:30 p.m. in Taube Tennis Stadium.