The Cardinal is looking to bounce back from a disappointing performance in the National Team Indoor Championships last weekend. Stanford fell to No. 26 Texas A&M 4-0 in the first round and defeated No. 29 Texas Tech 5-2 in the consolation round.
With a trip to conference foes No. 3 UCLA and No. 2 USC looming for next weekend, Stanford is in a situation where it could be tempted to look past its two much lower-ranked opponents coming to town.
BYU is 5-1 on the season so far, but the Cougars’ lost their only match against a team ranked in the top 40 to No. 3 UCLA, 6-1. The match was one to forget for every Cougar except junior Patrick Kawka. Kawka teamed up with first doubles partner Francis Sargeant in BYU’s only doubles win, and then earned BYU’s only point with a straight-set victory at second singles.
In BYU’s most impressive win of the season, a 4-3 nail biter at No. 44 Columbia, Kawka and Sargeant won points at first and fourth singles respectively to help the Cougars survive.
Stanford’s lineup looks a lot different at the top in 2013. Last spring, both Bradley Klahn and Ryan Thacher graduated after long careers near or at the top of the Stanford squad.
In their place, sophomore John Morrissey and senior Matt Kandath are faced with the task of leading the Cardinal. Morrissey, who plays first singles, is ranked No. 39 in the country as a singles player. He, and first doubles partner Kandath, are 2-1 on the season as a team.
Freshman Nolan Paige, fellow freshman Maciek Romanowicz and sophomore Robert Stineman all won their matches against Texas Tech at third, fourth and fifth singles respectively. Though the top singles players get most of the attention, those middle singles spots are crucial to a deep postseason run for a collegiate program.
On Tuesday, Stanford hosts No. 67 TCU at 11:30 a.m. The Horned Frogs (4-1) are the last boundary between Stanford and its brutal weekend in Southern California.
Despite being ranked No. 67, TCU has already shown the ability to give a top-20 team a serious scare. Two weeks ago, TCU lost a heartbreaker 4-3 at No. 20 Michigan. The Horned Frogs split the singles matches, but lost the doubles point in as close fashion as possible. All three doubles matches went to tiebreakers, with Michigan pulling out two of the three.
Sophomore Arnau Dachs is the only ranked TCU singles player, coming in at No. 100. Dachs provided one of the key upsets in TCU’s close loss at Michigan, beating No. 48 Vlad Stefan in a tight three-set second singles match.
Fellow sophomore Nick Chappell is entering his second season at first singles for TCU. Chappell earned All-Mountain West Singles honors in his freshman campaign, finishing 14-6 at the No. 1 spot.
Though BYU and TCU have upset potential, Stanford will be the heavy favorite in the two matches. All of that will change when Stanford takes on No. 2 USC and No. 3 UCLA next weekend, making it all the more important for the Cardinal to take care of business now.