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Senior Sit Down: Krista Hardebeck of women’s tennis

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Senior Krista Hardebeck has saved her best for last. In her final season on the Farm, Hardebeck clinched Stanford’s 4-3 upset over No. 3 Florida in February and has accrued the winningest record (21-5, 17-1 dual) on the team. Hardebeck, ranked 114th nationally, is currently riding a 15-match winning streak. She will look to extend her streak on Wednesday, when No. 13 Stanford (13-5, 8-1 Pac-12) faces off against No. 19 USC (12-4, 7-0 Pac-12) for the Pac-12 Championship title in Ojai, California.

The Stanford Daily (TSD): Let’s talk about the Cal match last weekend. What will you remember most about beating the number one team in the country?

Krista Hardebeck (KH): Definitely for me, one of the most memorable things will be watching Caroline Lampl finish off the match. I didn’t get to see, unfortunately, any of [Caroline] Doyle’s match, which I’m sure was insanely exciting. But we’ve had a lot of really close matches this year that we haven’t pulled off, so it was really cool to watch a freshman step up to the plate. She was down 3-2 when the match came down to her, and then she just won four straight games. It was so much fun being with my team and screaming for her. Watching her battle through that was so awesome.

TSD: What about your own match? Two weeks ago [against No. 73 Denise Starr of Cal], you won in three sets and it was close in the tiebreaker. This time you won 6-2, 6-3.

KH: I think this time, it was being on my own courts and I came with more of a game plan. I knew what to do from the match a few weeks ago. And like I said, being on my own courts. They’re a little faster, so that’s beneficial for me.

My mother and my friends were sitting there being absolutely ridiculous, cheering behind my court. That really helped pull me through as well.

TSD: What did you hope for going into your senior year, and how has it turned out?

KH: I actually didn’t play over the summer. I was interning in Uganda [at CCEDU, the Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda], so I was a little wary of how my play would be. But I was pleasantly surprised and I’ve ended up having an absolutely fantastic year, so that was really awesome.

We’ve obviously had a [few] ups and downs during the middle of the season, but I think we’re closing out strong. I think we’re gearing up to have a really strong finish at NCAAs.

TSD: You’ve clinched three times against Florida in your Stanford career. What do you have against the Gators?

KH: Oh my gosh, I don’t know. Everyone brings their best game on both sides because it’s such a huge rivalry, so it’s always super exciting. I’m really happy that I’ve been able to play such a big part in it. Honestly, I think it’s a coincidence that I always happen to be the last one [on the court], but it’s worked out. I love it. Hopefully we can do it to them again at NCAAs.

TSD: You’ve had a lot of big moments full of pressure and excitement on court. Do you have a line or mantra that you tell yourself in those moments?

KH: I just try to stay focused and not let myself get too carried away. I really try to focus on the energy my team is giving me and that I’m focusing on one point at a time. Not letting myself get too hyped up or too nervous.

TSD: Is that something you’ve worked on since freshman year?

KH: I was actually really good at it freshman year. Then I kind of struggled with it sophomore and junior year, but I think this year I’ve definitely gained it back. So, yes and no.

TSD: What do you think has been making the difference this year? You’re in an awesome winning streak — I should knock on wood right now.

KH: Honestly, with it being my last year, I just feel a little [looser] because it could be the last time I’m playing competitive tennis. I think it’s relaxed me, ironically. I think that’s really what’s been helping push me through.

TSD: What are you going to miss from The Farm?

KH: I’m going to miss a lot of stuff. In the context of tennis, I’ll definitely miss being able to practice every day with my teammates and having a really close group of girls that you’re with all the time. I’m kind of nerdy, so I’ll miss having really cool classes to take. I’ll miss having a team and having friends down the hallway, things like that.

TSD: Do you know what you’ll be doing after graduation?

KH: Right now, I am planning on working at a tech company in San Francisco. I’ll be doing a sales-type role for them.

TSD: Will you try to make it back to watch the team?

KH: Oh, yeah. I’ll be going to all their home matches, for sure. I’m going to be a huge fan for them.

 

Wednesday’s match against No. 19 USC will not only determine which team is the Pac-12 regular-season champion but also could affect the first and second-round locations for the NCAA Championships. The top-16 teams (as decided by a selection committee) nationally are awarded home-court advantage for the first two rounds, so Stanford would likely currently qualify, with USC’s fate being more unclear. It’s possible, but unlikely, that a USC win over Stanford could imperil Stanford’s top-16 ranking. What’s certain at this point is that both the Cardinal and the Trojans have established themselves as top competitors heading into the postseason.

 

Contact Alexa Corse at corsea ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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