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Tennis teams face marquee weekend against SoCal rivals

In a jam-packed weekend for Stanford tennis, both the men’s and women’s teams will face their toughest Pac-12 competition yet as they square off against USC and UCLA this Friday and Saturday.

Freshman Carol Zhao (above) has fit in just fine alongside senior Kristie Ahn on the Cardinal's top doubles team, which has risen to No. 10 in the country. (LARRY GE/The Stanford Daily)

Freshman Carol Zhao (above) has fit in just fine alongside senior Kristie Ahn on the Cardinal’s top doubles team, which has risen to No. 10 in the country. (LARRY GE/The Stanford Daily)

The No. 52 men’s squad (9-2, 2-0 Pac-12) is coming off of a six-match winning streak (the team’s longest since 2011) going into Friday’s match at No. 2 USC (20-2, 2-0 Pac-12), which will be the Cardinal’s highest-ranked opponent of the season.

The Trojans have lost just twice in 22 matches this season behind strong play from No. 3 singles player Ray Sarmiento and four others ranked in the top 100 nationally. Stanford has had great success on the road this season and will carry a 4-1 away record to Marks Stadium, but it will need its best match play of the season to defeat USC.

On Saturday, the men face No. 3 UCLA (15-2, 2-0) in Los Angeles, which should be an equally tough match. The teams last met on Feb. 9 on the Farm, but the match was suspended at 1-1 due to rain.

The Bruins are coming off a pair of road wins against Washington and Oregon, and will have faced No. 18 Cal on Friday before taking on Stanford. The Cardinal have a tall order to fill, but

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should be able to ride recent momentum and solid play from junior John Morrissey and No. 55 sophomore Maciek Romanowicz.

The women’s weekend will be no less daunting, as the No. 4 Cardinal (13-0, 5-0) face two other teams unbeaten in Pac-12 play in No 3. UCLA (17-1, 5-0) and No. 13 USC (14-4, 5-0) at Taube Family Tennis Center.

Stanford begins on Friday with UCLA, whose only loss this season came at the hands of No. 1 Duke back in February. The Bruins have blanked their last five opponents and, like Stanford, have not dropped a single doubles point this season behind the No. 1 and No. 5-ranked doubles pairs in the country.

It should be an intense showdown in both doubles and singles, with Stanford’s No. 10 duo of senior Kristie Ahn and freshman Carol Zhao headlining doubles for the Cardinal and No. 2 Ahn leading Stanford in singles play as well.

On Saturday, the Trojans will come to Stanford fresh off a match on Friday against No. 12 California, who the Cardinal beat earlier this season. No. 26 Zoë Scandalis leads the USC lineup on the singles courts, but Stanford should still have the advantage in both doubles and singles play.

For the women’s team, this weekend is critical in determining the rest of the regular season. Given that both UCLA and USC will be playing Cal this weekend as well, the four matches between the four schools — all of whom are 5-0 in conference play — will determine who is dominant in the Pac-12 late in the season. After this weekend, the Cardinal have just three matches before the Pac-12 tournament begins on April 24, so results this weekend are crucial for confidence and placement.

The Stanford men’s team begins the weekend against USC at 1:30 p.m. on Friday at Marks Stadium in Los Angeles. The Stanford women’s team faces off against UCLA at 1:30 p.m. on Friday at Taube Family Tennis Stadium.

Contact Fiona Noonan at fnoonan ‘at’ stanford.edu.