May 9, 2009

Courtesy of Stanford

STANFORD, Calif. -  In front of a raucous home crowd on a perfect day for tennis, the ninth-ranked Stanford men's tennis team avenged its 2008 NCAA Second Round loss to Pepperdine by defeating the Waves 4-1 today at the Taube Family Tennis Center to advance to the 2009 NCAA Round of 16 in College Station, Texas.

The Cardinal earned the all-important doubles point, winning the first two matches in under an hour. No. 40 Richard Wire and Blake Muller rebounded from yesterday's loss, taking down Mahmoud Kamel and Hugh Clarke 8-3 and senior Matt Bruch and sophomore Ted Kelly wrapped up the point with a victory over Alex Llompart and Stuart Keplar, 8-3.

"I was really pleased with Nos. 2 and 3 doubles," said head coach John Whitlinger. "They got out quick and didn’t look back. Matches like those are important, and will be the rest of the way."

Wire made it 2-0 in singles with his victory over Alejandro Moreno at No. 5, but the Waves responded with a win at No. 2, as No. 44 Omar Altmann was able to hand an unusual defeat to No. 34 freshman Bradley Klahn, 6-3, 6-3.

Muller then put the pressure on Pepperdine, winning at No. 6 singles 6-3, 7-5 over Clarke to put the Cardinal within one victory of heading to Texas A&M for the NCAA Championships. The Waves would not get a chance to answer though, as freshman Ryan Thacher put the match away, beating No. 120 Llompart 6-2, 7-6(2) to send Stanford to the Round of 16 for the first time since 2006.

"It was a great team effort, and we’ve talked all year long about when one guy goes down we have the ability to pick them up at other positions, said Whitlinger. "Pepperdine is a very, very good team that plays with a lot of emotion and plays hard and I really never felt comfortable the whole match until we won that last point. I’m very proud of my guys.”

“I’m very happy with Blake coming back to win after having a tough day yesterday, and with Alex for fighting to get into a third set as he hasn’t played a lot of tennis lately due to various injuries.  Ryan as well, as he's had a great year and has done well for us all season.”

The Cardinal will now face No. 8 USC, which defeated No. 33 Minnesota 4-0 today. The match will be played on Thursday, May 14, at 10 a.m. PT.

"We're excited about USC," said Whitlinger. "We've had two incredible matches this year against them, and now with the rubber match we all had a feeling was going to happen on neutral's going to be a great match and a continuation of an outstanding college tennis rivalry."

May 9, 2009 - Stanford Calif.
NCAA Men's Tennis Championship - Second Round
No. 9 Stanford 4, Pepperdine 1
1) No. 28 Thacher/Klahn (STAN) led No. 8 Altmann/Beidas (PEPP) 5-5, aban.
2) No. 40 Wire/Muller (STAN) d. Kamel/Clarke (PEPP) 8-3
3) Bruch/Kelly (STAN) d. Llompart/Keplar (PEPP) 8-3
Order of Finish: 2, 3
1) No. 21 Alex Clayton (STAN) drew with No. 35 Bassam Beidas (PEPP) 4-6, 6-3, 1-1, aban.
2) No. 44 Omar Altmann (PEPP) d. No. 34 Bradley Klahn (STAN) 6-3, 6-3
3) Ryan Thacher (STAN) d. No. 120 Alex Llompart (PEPP) 6-2, 7-6(2)*
4) Matt Bruch (STAN) led Mahmoud Kamel (PEPP) 7-6, 3-4, aban.
5) Richard Wire (STAN) d. Alex Moreno (PEPP) 6-3, 6-2
6) Blake Muller (STAN) d. Hugh Clarke (PEPP) 6-3, 7-5
Order of Finish: 5, 2, 6, 3
* denotes clinching match