2020 NCAA Preview:
Arthur Kapetanakis | January 14, 2020
The two-time defending NCAA champion Stanford Cardinal enter the 2020 season seeking a record-extending 21st national title. Winners of more than half of the sport’s NCAA titles since the competition's inception in 1982, the Cardinal enter the new campaign as the early favorites to add to their total.
They return four singles starters from last year’s effort but lost Melissa Lord and Caroline Lampl—each named to the 2019 All-Pac-12 team—to graduation. They are also without longtime associate head coach Frankie Brennan, who is taking a leave of absence as he recovers from a planned knee surgery.
Still, the Cardinal find themselves atop the preseason ITA rankings. (The first 2020 edition of the Tennis Channel/USTA College Tennis Top 25 will be released on Jan. 29.)
Head coach Lele Forood, who has won 10 NCAA titles in her 19 seasons at the helm, is keeping the pressure off her new-look squad.ADVERTISEMENT
“We always have goals,” she said of her season outlook, speaking during a recruiting trip at the 2019 Orange Bowl. “But no real expectations. We don’t even know our lineup at this point. It’s a little early.”
Forood will be leaning on returning upperclassmen Michaela Gordon and Emily Arbuthnott to anchor her lineup, both bolstered by the experience of representing their respective countries at the 2019 Master’U by BNP Paribas event (Gordon for the U.S. and Arbuthnott for Great Britain).
Gordon (pictured above) enters 2020 as the ITA’s No. 7-ranked woman, while junior teammate Janice Shin is ranked No. 49.
“Our returning players are playing bigger and better,” Forood detailed.
Gordon, a junior who compiled a 12-5 record at No. 1 singles last year, will look to build on her Pac-12 Singles Player of the Year campaign last season.
A strong fall season for the Cardinal squad was highlighted by a trophy sweep at the ITA Northwest Regional Championships, where Gordon took the singles title, and senior Arbuthnott and freshman Angelica Blake won the doubles crown. There were also smaller successes for some new faces across five fall events.
“The new players got some wins, and we got a chance to learn more about how they play,” said Forood. “That’s an important part of the fall.”
After traveling to UNLV on Jan. 17 for more individual competitions, the Cardinal will contest their first dual match of the year on Jan. 25, when they host South Florida at the Taube Family Tennis Center as part of ITA Kick-off Weekend. They open Pac-12 play on March 6 at home against USC.
Did you know? The Stanford Cardinal nickname is based on the color, not the bird.