Top college players set to compete at NCAA Championships

May 16, 2011 12:52 PM
By Sally Milano,

The culmination of the 2010-11 college tennis season is at hand, as Stanford University will play host to the NCAA Division I Tennis Championships from May 19-30. The event will be held at the Taube Family Tennis Center in Stanford, Calif., with the top college players competing for national team, singles and doubles titles.

The team championship kicks off the event, May 19-24, and the undefeated Virginia men and Stanford women are among the favorites to take home titles. No. 1 Virginia captured its fifth consecutive ACC Championship and currently holds an ACC-record winning streak of 77 consecutive victories, and the No. 2 Stanford women have won 44 consecutive contests dating back to February 2010. Even more impressive for the Cardinal women is their remarkable home winning streak of 181 matches over 12 seasons dating back to Feb. 27, 1999, a run that is recognized as the longest active home winning streak in all Division I sports.

In addition to Virginia, other men's teams to watch include No. 2-ranked USC, which is going for its third straight national championship, No. 3 Tennessee, the runner-up to USC in 2010, and No. 4 Ohio State, a finalist in 2009. For the women, No. 1 Florida, a finalist in 2010, No. 3 Duke, the 2009 national champions, and No. 4 North Carolina, a semifinalist last year, are top contenders for the championship.

Both the singles and doubles championships will be held May 25-30. In men’s singles, USC junior Steve Johnson should be considered the player to beat, becoming the third Trojan in the last four years to sweep at the Pac-10 Championships. He holds a 38-3 overall singles record, including a current 25-match winning streak, and is atop the ITA/Campbell National Rankings as the No. 1 player in men's collegiate tennis.

Stanford junior and defending NCAA men’s singles champion Bradley Klahn and Virginia standouts Alex Domijan and Michael Shabaz also rank among the contenders to take home the men’s title, along with Michigan sophomore Evan King, Tennessee sophomore Rhyne Williams, Kentucky junior Eric Quigley and Texas A&M senior Austin Krajicek.

On the women’s side, USC senior Maria Sanchez joined fellow Trojan Johnson at the top of the rankings for three of the six ranking periods this spring, marking the first time in ITA ranking history that one school boasted both the No. 1 male and female players at the same time. Sanchez rose to the top by winning the prestigious USTA/ITA National Indoor Singles Championship and reaching the final of the ITA Southwest Regional this season.

Other women to watch include Notre Dame junior Kristy Frilling and Florida sophomore Allie Will, who, along with Sanchez, represented the U.S. at the Master’U international college competition last December in France. Also look for Michigan senior Denise Muresan, Washington junior Denise Dy, Arizona State freshman Jacqueline Cako, Penn freshman Connie Hsu and the Stanford trio of Hilary Barte, Nicole Gibbs and Kristie Ahn to perform well in the women’s draw.

Three of the four winners of the 2010 NCAA Doubles Championship will attempt to defend their titles again in 2011, as last year’s men’s doubles winners Shabaz and Drew Courtney of Virginia are expected to compete. Barte, the 2010 women’s doubles titleholder, will team with Mallory Burdette at this year’s event, after winning the championship last year with Lindsay Burdette, Mallory’s older sister.