By Shan Reddy
After a hard-fought win over the No. 5 USC Trojans in Los Angeles last Friday, Stanford men’s tennis heads to Chicago this Friday for a tournament weekend that may prove to be the Cardinal’s toughest challenge of the season. The ITA Division 1 National Men’s Team Indoor Championship will feature sixteen of the top collegiate tennis teams in the nation, including every team in the top ten Division 1 rankings.
No. 10 Stanford (5-1) qualified with a sweep of the 2019 ITA Kick-Off regional a few weeks ago and is set to take on the No. 13 Virginia Cavaliers (7-1) at 3:30 p.m. this Friday.
The Cavaliers have outplayed their ranking spectacularly this season and handed the nation’s top team, No. 1 Wake Forest (9-1), its only loss on the season in a 5-2 rout earlier this month. Virginia and Wake Forest have combined to win the last four NCAA Division 1 national championship titles (Virginia 2015-17, Wake Forest 2018) as well as the last two ITA National Team Indoor Championships (Virginia 2017, Wake Forest 2018).
The Cardinal will certainly have their work cut out for them in the first round on Friday as they take on an experienced Virginia team coming off of its third straight win in dual match play this season.
After a bitter 4-3 loss to the undefeated Georgia Bulldogs this past Monday that ended their run in the ITA Division 1 Women’s Team Indoor Championship and snapped their historic, year-long 25-game winning streak, the Stanford women’s tennis team returns to campus to play Santa Clara (0-2) this Friday in a dual match that should prove to be a welcome breather after a draining slate of road matches against top-flight tennis programs (No. 5 Georgia, No. 6 Texas and No. 18 LSU).
The Cardinal look to get back on track Friday against the Broncos, a team that has not yet won a match against a ranked opponent this season. The Broncos visit Stanford after back-to-back losses against Princeton and San Jose State.
The loss to Georgia was an unexpected setback, but the Cardinal still remain the favorite for the NCAA title this season. The team returned its entire starting singles and doubles lineups from last year’s championship squad and continues to see exceptional play from its upperclassmen. Junior Emily Arbuthnott leads the team in singles wins this season and clinched matches against LSU and Texas last weekend; Arbuthnott was named Pac-12 Player of the Week for her impressive performance in the tournament.
Georgia may have given Stanford a wakeup call, but all the pieces are in still place for the Cardinal’s next winning streak to roll on even longer than the last one.