Tennis: Stanford set to play significant role in team, individual NCAA tournaments

May 3, 2012, 1:40 a.m.

With the Pac-12 Championships completed, the Stanford men’s and women’s tennis teams can now prepare for the NCAA tournament.

The first event in the NCAA tournament is the 64-school team competition, and both the men and women have earned top-16 seeds, meaning that Stanford’s Taube Family Tennis Center to host the first two rounds of play May 11-13.

On the men’s side, the Cardinal (17-8, 5-2 Pac-12) has been given the No. 11 overall seed. In the first round, Stanford will host automatic qualifier Sacramento State (11-12), which won the Big Sky tournament to advance to NCAAs for the ninth time. The Cardinal last met the Hornets in January 2011 with Stanford earning the sweep, but Sacramento State’s team is much different this year with freshmen comprising over half the starting spots.

Tennis: Stanford set to play significant role in team, individual NCAA tournaments
Senior Ryan Thacher (above) will compete in both the NCAA singles and doubles tournaments in Athens, Ga. First, though, he will participate in the team tournament beginning May 12 (ALISA ROYER/The Stanford Daily).

If Stanford takes care of Sacramento State, it will take on the winner of Texas and Santa Clara in the second round. USC, the team that knocked Stanford out of the Pac-12 tournament, is the No. 1 overall seed. The Trojans have swept the Cardinal in all three meetings, while no other team has swept Stanford.

On the women’s side, the Cardinal (18-1, 9-1 Pac-12) is the No. 4 overall seed. Stanford will start its tournament run against Stony Brook (14-7), the automatic qualifier out of the America East Conference. The winner of that match will take on the winner of Saint Mary’s vs. Yale.

Women’s tennis is looking for its second national title in three years and its 17th title in 31 years. If seeds hold, the Cardinal could face rematches with No. 5-seed USC in the quarterfinals, No. 1-seed UCLA (the only team to beat Stanford this year) in the semifinals and No. 2-seed Florida (the team Stanford has met in the final each of the last two years) in the final.

After the first two rounds, both the men’s and women’s tournaments will move to Athens, Ga., for the remaining rounds.

Following the conclusion of the team tournament, the focus will switch to individuals during the NCAA singles and doubles championships from May 23-28. Stanford will have participants in each individual tournament.

Seniors Bradley Klahn and Ryan Thacher will represent Stanford during the men’s tournaments. Each is an unseeded entrant to the 64-player singles tournament, while the pair will be the No. 4 seed in the 32-team doubles tournament. The duo lost to a team from Texas A&M in the NCAA doubles final last year. Klahn, who missed the beginning of the season due to injury, won the NCAA singles title in 2010.

Pac-12 singles champion Nicole Gibbs leads a trio of Stanford women competing in the individual tournament. The sophomore is the No. 3 overall seed, while her teammate, junior Mallory Burdette, is the No. 5 seed. Junior Stacey Tan made the singles bracket as well as an unseeded at-large. For doubles, Gibbs and Burdette will team up as the No. 2 seed, while Tan will join freshman Ellen Tsay to form Stanford’s second doubles entrant.

Stanford’s NCAA tournament action will kick off May 11 at 2 p.m. with the Cardinal women hosting Stony Brook. The men begin May 12 at noon against Sacramento State.

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