The month of April has been very good to the No. 13 Stanford women’s tennis team (14-3, 6-1 Pac-12). The team is 3-0 this month with wins over Oregon and local rival Santa Clara, going 19-2 in these three matches. Stanford finished its last home game of the regular season with a 7-0 win over Hawaii this past Tuesday.
This weekend, the Cardinal will face No. 75 Arizona (9-11, 1-6 Pac-12) and No. 21 Arizona State (15-3, 5-2 Pac-12) in its first matches against a ranked opponent since a hard loss to No. 5 USC 5-2 in late March.
“It’ll be great to end the season with quality opponents right before Ojai,” said junior Kristie Ahn. “It helps us get into the right mindset for the Pac-12 Championships. We’re all very ready for the postseason to get started.”
A positive change for this weekend is that No. 20 junior Nicole Gibbs will be back in the lineup after missing two matches due to injury.
“Obviously she’s a great competitor and at the one spot, she’s always competing really hard,” Ahn said. “We feel confident when she takes the court because the team knows she can handle her matches and that confidence pushes itself down the lineup.”
With Gibbs back on the court, Stanford has its full lineup and can capitalize on the team’s ever-increasing resilience.
“As a team we’ve come together a lot more than the beginning of the season when we had a tough loss against Saint Mary’s and Florida,” said senior Natalie Dillon. “The last two matches, Gibbs wasn’t playing and I think it demonstrated more of the depth of our lineup. We’re really coming together much more as a team.”
Having a two-match stretch against unranked opponents all on the road is a great chance for the players to fine tune some things before their last regular season match against California and Pac-12 Championships starting in two weeks.
“Every match you can learn something from,” Dillon said. “For matches against unranked opponents who aren’t in our conference, it’s really an opportunity for us to focus on each point and practice taking care of business. It’s easy for us to lose focus but the things we focused on are keeping our mental toughness, winning the points we needed to. A match is a match regardless of who you’re playing.”
Both ASU and Arizona are coming off two losses of their own to USC and UCLA and looking to end their regular season at home with a quality win over Stanford.
Both opponents have solid home records, taking advantage of the heat in the desert they are so accustomed to. Arizona is 7-3 at home while ASU is 9-2. Despite the differing weather conditions, the Cardinal is confident it can adapt its playing style for a winning result.
“We’ve done pretty well this year on the road,” Dillon explained. “Arizona is definitely different conditions though. It’s a lot hotter, drier, the air is thinner and so the ball flies a little more, but like I’ve said, we’ve come together a lot. We feel confident in our doubles and our singles in every spot.”
Stanford plays Arizona starting at 12:30 p.m. in Tucson today and continues its road swing against Arizona State tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. in Tempe.
Contact Will Seaton at wseaton ‘at’ stanford.edu.