By Shan Reddy
After back-to-back wins in the first and second rounds of the 2019 Division 1 NCAA Tennis Championships last weekend, the No. 3 Stanford women’s and No. 12 men’s tennis teams will both compete in the Round of 16 Super Regional this weekend. The women’s team will take on No. 14 Kansas (21-4, 7-2 Big 12) on Friday at 2 p.m. in their final home game of the season at Taube Family Tennis Stadium, while the men’s team will head to Charlottesville for a match at No. 5 Virginia (23-4, 10-2 ACC) on Saturday morning at 10 a.m.
After dominating victories over New Mexico State (15-10, 3-2 WAC) and Syracuse (14-13 5-9 ACC) in the first and second rounds, respectively, the defending NCAA champion Cardinal women’s team heads into the weekend with a 61-3 record at Taube dating back to 2015 and a 19-game overall winning streak stretching back to early February.
The Cardinal are looking to make the Jayhawks another bump in the road to their fifth NCAA title this decade (2010, 2013, 2016, 2018). The most decorated tennis program in collegiate athletics history and the winningest program in the history of Stanford Athletics, Cardinal women’s tennis has posted a 115-19 all-time record in the postseason since 1982; the team also leads the Pac-12 this season in appearances on the first and second all-conference teams with four.
The Jayhawks, on the other hand, enter the Round of 16 for the first time in over twenty years. Riding a 10-game winning streak, Kansas heads to Taube having taken two out of its last losses to teams that the Cardinal defeated in No. 9 Texas (19-5, 9-0 Big 12) and No. 10 Washington (21-4, 8-2 Pac-12) by a combined score of 8-3. Kansas also fell in both of their matches against No. 15 Oklahoma State (21-7, 8-1 Big 12).
While the women’s team looks primed for success, the men’s team faces tougher odds. Traveling across the country to take on Virginia will be a feat itself. The Cardinal fell to Virginia in the ITA National Indoor Championships back in February, dropping a 2-4 decision to the Cavaliers.
“Playing them earlier in the year is a huge advantage because we know their game styles now,” said senior captain Sameer Kumar. “We can learn from that loss. It was a close match. We were honestly points away from being more competitive in that match.”
The Cavaliers have won 11 of their past 12 matches going back to mid-March, and had an exceptional season highlighted by a sweep of the All-ACC awards announced a few weeks ago. Virginia’s junior No. 3 Carl Sӧderlund took home Atlantic Coast Conference Men’s Tennis Player of the Year honors and headlined the 2019 All-ACC Team, No. 82 Brandon Nakashima posted a 16-5 record on the season en route to 2019 ACC Freshman of the Year honors, and head coach Andres Pedroso was named 2019 ACC Coach of the Year after improving upon last season’s record by seven games and leading the Cavaliers to a 6-3 record against top-10 opponents.
“We had a tough loss to them indoors a few weeks ago,” said senior Michael Geneder. “They’re a really solid team with great depth. Flying across the country’s going to be difficult, but we’ll have time to adjust, and every one of us has a clear game plan of what we want to do … we owe them one, and we’re coming for them.”
Contact Shan Reddy at rsreddy ‘at’ stanford.edu.