A lot of talk re: Stanford, so I thought I'd chime in. Sometimes I think Stanford should have it's own thread...Hhahah!
I've been attending matches at the Farm for about 10 years, but have only been following them a little more closely the last couple of years since I discovered this College Section of the Tennis Forum. Back then, I never really knew this part existed and just read and posted on the GM Board - about pro tennis of course. It's kinda funny, I never post on the GM board now. And I only read it during the Slams.
Like Tie Breaker, I too feel last couple of years for the Card have been both disappointing and heartbreaking.
2011: What a line up: Barte, Burdette, Gibbs, Ahn, Tan, Li & McVeigh. Spots 1 - 4 were as good as it gets. 5-6 weren't exactly dominating, but solid none the less.
I was looking forward to Back to Back NCAA Championships that year. However that was not to be.
That finals match, there was so much pressure on Mal to win b/c everyone in the venue moved over to the main stadium to see her clinch the title. Pressure and fatigue took its toll that evening. (Check out this image I shot that night and read the caption I wrote back then: http://www.pbase.com/nomalt/image/134998046
) Could of been a different story if K Ahn was healthy - a story that would continue into 2012. Huge hit for the team.
2012: They lost Barte to graduation and I think there was a void in the leadership department. Not that Gibbs/Ahn/Burdette weren't good leaders, I think Barte took it to another level. Probably my fave Card player of all time.
But the Card were out for revenge that year. I think their goal was to take back what they thought was theirs. I remember when UF came out for that regular season match...I had never seen the team so pumped up before. (Check this image: http://www.pbase.com/nomalt/image/141481232
and look how high Mal is jumping ). Unfortunately, the tennis gods were not smiling upon poor Kristie's health again that season. I remember looking on the internet during the NCAA championships...is she playing? Yes she is. No she's not. The team wasn't as deep as the year before and that made it even more difficult.
2013: Gibbs, Burdette, Ahn, Hardebeck, Tan & Tsay. As good or even better line up than 2011? We will never know.
I blame Fantic for my heightened expectations this year. He was pumping up Hardebeck so much before the season, I thought she was the second coming of Steffi Graf or something.
And then the US Open. Happy for Mal - she made the right choice and is doing great. Saw her play down in Indian Wells in March and couldn't believe what great shape she was in. Took Kirilenko to 3 sets, and if I remember correctly, Kirilenko took 2 bathroom breaks to break up the rhythm of the match. Kirilenko then went on to have a really good tournament, reaching the semis. Also, again there was a leadership void w/ Mal leaving. Top Senior Stacey Tan isn't very vocal/emotional. And Gibbs - sure she is a great player, and the returning NCAA Champ. But all the talk of her aspirations to turn pro had to be a little bit of a distraction.
In Mal's absence, senior Nat Dillon cracked the starting line up. She confuses me - she's got game, especially for the 6 slot. However, it seems as though she makes things difficult for herself and every match is a struggle. And then there's Stacey Tan. As Tie Breaker mentioned, at No. 4, she should be destroying every opponent. At least that is what I expected. I wrote earlier this season on my thoughts on why her season has been up and down, so I won't bother to rehash it.
Will they visit the White House this season? Probably not, but I can always hope.
And next year? Who knows, but I think to stay competitive, every class needs two quality incoming freshmen like: Liu/Barnes, Logar/Yelsey, Burdette/Tan.
Sorry for the long post but I look forward to the post season! Go Card!