By Evan Burke
On Friday, the No. 8 Stanford women’s tennis team (1-2, 0-0 Pac 12) will take on the No. 47 Saint Mary’s Gaels (1-3, 0-0 WCC) at the Taube Family Tennis Center.
The Cardinal have stumbled out of the gate at the start of this season, earning a 1-2 record in their first three matches. It is the first time in the history of Stanford women’s tennis — which has accumulated 1,032 matches over 42 years — that the Cardinal own a losing record. Stanford faced elite competition over the weekend while missing NCAA singles runner-up Carol Zhao and starting several freshman. After falling to No. 25 Mississippi on Friday afternoon in a heartbreaking 4-3 loss, Stanford was defeated by No. 1 Vanderbilt, the defending national champions, by a score of 4-1.
However, as the season is still very young and the team has plenty of time to strengthen its form before the tournament in May, the Cardinal are still in good shape. Zhao is expected to return in the spring and the youth on the team will improve with experience.
The match with St. Mary’s will be the Cardinal’s next chance to get back in the winner’s column and starts a four-match homestand for the team spanning the month of February.
The team is eager to put itself back on the winning track, and head coach Lele Forood has confidence that it will be able to rebound. Forood noted that one of the keys to Stanford’s turnaround will be strong doubles play from juniors Taylor Davidson and Caroline Doyle, who have amassed a 14-2 overall record playing together and are currently ranked as the nation’s No. 10 doubles team.
“[Taylor and Caroline have] won huge matches for us over their first two years and are established top-20 caliber players,” Forood said. “We will be relying on their experience.”
With Davidson and Doyle leading the charge, both separately in singles matches and together in doubles, Stanford has the leadership to quickly recover from a tough start to the season and notch a couple of quality wins this month.
During this upcoming stretch of home matches Cardinal will take on top teams like No. 3 Florida and No. 22 TCU. Despite the quality of the team’s opponents, these next four matches for Stanford all come with at least six days built in between, giving the team plenty of time to rest and prepare. Bolstered by this rare opportunity of time off in this part of the season, the team will therefore be viewing the matchup with Saint Mary’s as an opportunity to start building momentum for the future. If the Cardinal can turn that momentum into a winning streak, they could quickly reassert themselves as one of the country’s best squads by the end of the month.
The match against St. Mary’s will take place on Friday, Feb. 5 at 3 p.m. at Taube. You can watch the matches live online here.
Contact Evan Burke at eburke3 ‘at’ stanford.edu.