By Will Seaton
Preparation is the key to success in all sports and the No. 13 Stanford women’s tennis team has been preparing a long time for the start of dual match play next week. The team hosts UC-Davis (0-1) at home before flying to the Lone Star State to take on both Texas Christian University (0-0) and the University of Texas (1-0).
A home opener for a sporting season is always thrilling, but especially so for the women’s tennis players at Stanford. The team comes in riding a home winning streak of 151 matches at Taube Family Tennis Stadium, recognized as the longest active home winning streak of any intercollegiate sport in NCAA Division I history. With their first dual match of the season coming up against UC-Davis, the players will put this streak on the line.
“I’m so excited,” said junior Hilary Barte. “When we went over for the men’s match on Saturday, I realized I missed the feeling of match day and just getting ready for it. Being at home is even more special.”
The success that individual Cardinal players have had up until now matters little once the team play begins. Matches now begin to count towards team rankings and entrance in the NCAA tournament in May, and those who have struggled can start anew. This first weekend on the road at Texas has been in the minds of the women as their first real test of the season, something they can all prepare for.
“We’ve been looking forward to playing at their place for a while,” said senior captain Lindsay Burdette about the Texas teams. “They came to us a couple years ago, and we beat them pretty good here, but they’ve both improved since then.”
“It’ll be a great opportunity to match up against some teams that we don’t normally play, and I expect all the best. It’ll be a boost for our ranking and just our confidence in general.”
Part of the preparation that the team has put in during the fall season came in helping the freshmen become acquainted with Division I competition. With three freshmen players — Stacey Tan, Mallory Burdette and Natalie Dillon — all potentially playing in the lineup, their contributions will need to come early and often. Fortunately for the Cardinal, they’ve all shined during their tournament play.
“I think it’s not an issue at all,” Barte said. “They’ve done a great job learning the ropes, asking us questions where there have been questions.
“Mallory, having been the third Burdette sister to come through here, has done a great job of leading her class,” she continued. “This year is probably my favorite dynamic on the team since I’ve been at Stanford.”
“We’re all just super excited for the season to start,” Burdette said. “The fact that we have this trip coming up is focusing everyone in practice on a daily basis. It’s definitely a big part of our schedule this quarter, and that’s only helping everyone over this next week and a half.”
The UC-Davis match will take place February 2 at 2:30 p.m. at Taube.