Re: NCAA Championship predictions
Here's an article that appeared in the SF Chronicle earlier this month:
NCAA TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS
Barte finds her niche in college instead of as pro
Freshman is thrust into spotlight for Stanford
Bryan Chu, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
(05-06) 20:50 PDT -- Life on the tennis tour wasn't what Hilary Barte expected.
There were those lonely nights in hotel rooms wondering what her senior year of high school could have been like. There were those countless flights for tournament after tournament, in the United States and overseas. And, oh yeah, for a youngster with high hopes, there was also that reality check.
"I definitely struggled," said Barte, who could only muster a guess of around 480 for her top ranking in the world. "After I played at the U.S. Open, and I noticed how all the players were so mature, I knew going to college would help me."
So, having kept her amateur status, she cut short her fledgling career on tour and went to Stanford.
Barte, a freshman, is No. 3 in the nation in singles and is the top player for fourth-seeded Stanford, which hosts Boston University in the first round of the NCAA tournament Friday.
At the start of the season, the 19-year-old lefty from Chatsworth (Los Angeles County) was more pedestrian than anything.
Barte vacillated between the three and two spot in the lineup and had an 8-5 record. Her season, however, received a jolt when she fell into the top spot after injuries to Stanford's key players.
Barte took advantage of the late-February fortune, stringing together 19 straight victories.
"We haven't had too many people put together a string that long and that well at the No. 1 position," said Stanford coach Lele Forood, who is aiming for her sixth NCAA team title in eight years at the helm. "I think (the move) inspired, motivated her more. She knew she had to take each match, in a way, more seriously."
Barte, who holds a 27-6 record, saw her streak snapped in the quarterfinals of the Pac-10 championships when she had to withdraw from the match because of a hyperextended left shoulder, an injury she said should be fine now.
At first glance, Barte is a 5-foot-5 freshman who likes to hum to herself and is rarely seen without a smile on her face.
That's deceiving when it comes to competition.
Teammates describe Barte as the ultra competitor. She keeps score for everything, even a friendly game of pingpong or paper football at the dinner table.
"Hilary's competitiveness comes out all the time," said sophomore Lindsay Burdette, who is Barte's doubles partner.
Forood added: "It's the joy of competing and keeping score that keeps her having a good time."
Lex Barte, Hilary's older brother by four years, knows a lot about that.
When Lex was in the fourth grade, and Barte in kindergarten, the two would have batting practice in the backyard. Lex was the pitcher and Barte the batter. A lot of balls wound up over the fence.
"I was really frustrated," remembers Lex, now 23. "She was this little thing and I'd throw my hardest. I'd look at her and she would just smile."
Hilary picked up a tennis racket at age 6. She remembers hating the sport at first, often getting upset at herself for unforced errors. By the time she was 10, she had made up her mind to stick with it.
"I was having so much fun watching the other person run around and seeing them kind of like at my mercy," she said.