With a still-perfect record and good momentum coming off a 7-0 victory over Southern Methodist University, the Stanford women’s tennis team heads to Charlottesville, Va. this weekend to compete in the 2011 ITA National Women’s Team Indoor Championships.
The Cardinal (5-0, 0-0 Pac-10) looks to capture victories over other top-ranked programs that it typically does not face during the regular season.
Currently ranked at No. 1, the Cardinal will play as the top seed in this weekend’s indoor championship, where it will be joined by a slew of nationally ranked foes, with 14 of the top 25 teams coming to Virginia.
Senior Hilary Barte was excited about the strong competition.
“The fact that the schools we play, such as Florida, UNC and Duke, all have extremely high caliber teams is very exciting, and at the same time challenging,” Barte said. “It’s basically going to be similar to the NCAA tournament. I think it will improve our team to get this practice earlier in the season.”
The tournament will begin with 16 top-tier teams and will be conducted in a typical dual match format, with a group of three doubles matches counting for one point, and six singles matches counting for one point each.
But there is one major factor differentiating this tournament from the Cardinal’s usual matches.
“We have been practicing indoors the last couple of days, both because of the dreary weather and because the tournament is, of course, indoors,” McVeigh said. “The ball travels faster without wind and outside conditions, so we’ve been hitting inside to get most closely acquainted with the different conditions.”
“We have been focusing on both doubles as well as real point situations in preparation,” Barte added. “As always, we are looking to improve individually and as a team week-in and week-out.”
However, the fast-paced conditions might help the Cardinal, which McVeigh describes as a “typically aggressive team dependent on deep, powerfully hit balls.”
McVeigh describes her personal style as more of a counterpunch strategy anyway.
“I tend to play relatively far behind the baseline and counterpunch more, with higher elevation on my balls,” she said. “In these upcoming matches, I will try to stay on the baseline more often and hit the ball earlier to take advantage of the speed of the court.”
Stanford’s first match will be played on Feb. 18 at the Boar’s Head Sports Club. If the team can acquire a victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks, it will move onto the quarterfinals on Saturday against the winner of No. 8 Michigan and Georgia Tech.
The Cardinal departs on Wednesday in order to arrive in Charlottesville with enough preparation time before the tournament. A cross-country trip prior to numerous important matches could prove daunting for the team, but McVeigh says that the Card has already taken precautions for the long trip.
“Though it is definitely difficult to fly across the country and then be completely ready to play, we do get in Wednesday night,” McVeigh said. “Our first match isn’t until Friday night, which gives us enough time to get over jet lag. It shouldn’t be too big of a problem.”
Stanford will be facing unseeded Arkansas at 4:30 p.m. PST on Friday, Feb. 18 in the first round of the tournament.