With a weekend spent more in transit than on the courts, the No. 11 Cardinal continued to cruise as it flew by No. 7 Cal (6-4) on Friday with a 5-2 beating and finished off business at No. 28 Washington on Sunday with a 6-1 victory.
Stanford (8-0, 2-0 Pac-12) showed strength in doubles play, as the Cardinal went six for six this weekend in doubles matches. In fact, it has yet to drop a doubles match thus far in the regular season, as junior Mallory Burdette — who plays on court one with sophomore Nicole Gibbs — pointed out.
“We’ve been working a lot on doubles in practice, and it’s definitely showing in our matches,” Burdette acknowledged. “It has to do with chemistry, and I think all three courts have it this year.”
Stanford captured the first point in the Cal match with three doubles victories, though the Cardinal was only up a break on courts two and three.
“Doubles is about instinctive play,” Burdette said. “With Nicole, I have to be able to read when she hits a good shot or a weaker shot. I have to know when to move back or when to attack. I think we’re continually improving.”
She also described how freshman Ellen Tsay and junior Stacey Tan make a formidable pair on court two, with Tan bringing the big groundstrokes and Tsay right there on top of the net to finish the point. Similarly, sophomore Kristie Ahn and senior Veronica Li complement each other as they both move around well at the net.
In singles play, Tan lost the first match to Cal’s Anett Schutting 6-3, 6-3, evening the score at 1-1. Gibbs quickly launched the Cardinal ahead again with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Zsofi Susanyi. Li, Burdette and Tsay also came out triumphant, as Ahn fell in straight sets to Annie Goransson.
Burdette fought hard to pull out a three-set tiebreaker win over Cal’s Taylor Davis. Although Cal was ranked above Stanford going into the weekend, the Cardinal’s hard-fought victory was more important for helping to boost the squad’s confidence than moving past the Golden Bears in the ITA rankings.
“I knew going into the match that we might be a little rusty,” Burdette said. “So I was trying to keep my cool out there. [Davis] was doing a good job of getting my big shots back, so it was about executing and putting short balls away.”
In the heat of such a close match, Burdette said she had to concentrate her emotions in order to play her best.
“I think at times I can show too much emotion,” she admitted. “Now, I have routines that I do in between points to keep me in the moment and focused on the things that I can control. It’s important to go up to the line with the same energy and mentality every time.”
Burdette’s composure paid off in the Washington match as well, as she defeated Andjela Nemcevic 6-1, 6-4 on Sunday. Stanford had already taken the doubles point with victories on every court and continued to roll with wins from Gibbs, Tan, Tsay and Li. Junior Natalie Dillon lost to Riko Shimizo after a very close first set. Tsay also was forced to fight back after dropping the first set and came back to win in a tiebreaker, 4-6, 6-4 (10-7).
“The 6-1 score doesn’t reflect what went on in the match,” Burdette noted. “It got really tight in the middle of the match, and the courts were split so that you couldn’t see how everyone else was doing. We were all happy with the way it turned out.”
Stanford continues their travels this weekend to the Pac-12’s newest competitors, Colorado and Utah. Like at Washington, the Cardinal will be playing indoors.
“We’ve been hearing a lot about their conditions and facilities,” Burdette explained. “Our court surfaces at Stanford are lightning fast and might even be faster than the indoor courts, so no matter the change, it shouldn’t be too big of a deal.”
Stanford will be looking to capture its ninth win at 12:30 p.m. this Friday, March 9, against No. 33 Utah.