Kentucky Set to Meet Top-Ranked Stanford in NCAA Sweet 16
- including live scoring
ATHENS, Ga. – The 17th-ranked and 15th-seeded Kentucky women’s tennis team (19-11) opens play in the NCAA Round of 16 Thursday when the Cats meet top-ranked and second-seeded Stanford (25-0). UK and the 12-time national champion Cardinal do battle at 3 p.m. EDT at Georgia’s Dan Magill Tennis Complex.
Thursday’s match marks the second meeting on the hard courts between the two programs. In 2002, the Cardinal eliminated the Cats from the Sweet 16 on their way to a national championship. As is the norm with Stanford, the Cardinal features one of the most formidable lineups in collegiate tennis. Stanford counts eight student-athletes, more than any other school, in the ITA top 100: seventh-ranked sophomore Amber Liu, the 2003 NCAA Women’s Singles Champion; 10th-ranked sophomore Alice Barnes; 23rd-ranked junior Erin Burdette; 40th-ranked sophomore Theresa Logar; 56th-ranked senior Lauren Barnikow; 60th-ranked senior Emilia Anderson; 78th-ranked junior Story Tweedie-Yates and 92nd-ranked freshman Anne Yelsey. Barnikow and Burdette solidify the top-ranked doubles tandem in the country.
Kentucky, led by Coach Mark Guilbeau, is making its third Sweet 16 appearance in as many seasons. The Cats’ Sweet 16 berth marks a rapid period of progression by an active roster consisting of no returnees from the 2003 Sweet 16 team. The only returning letter winner, Danielle Petrisko, missed the entire 2004 dual-match season due to injury, leaving the 2004 Cats with no one who had ever played an NCAA dual match prior to the season.
Junior Aibika Kalsarieva, a transfer from Lewis & Clark State of the NAIA, had little trouble adjusting to NCAA tennis and enters the NCAA Championships as the 16th-ranked singles player. Freshman Sarah Foster, the ITA’s 48th-ranked student-athlete, scored a 10-1 record in SEC play and earned the title of SEC Freshman of the Year. Foster and Kalsarieva comprise the nation’s 14th-ranked doubles tandem and will compete together in doubles and separately in singles following the NCAA Team Championships.
Kentucky is 0-2 in the NCAA Round of 16 after losing the aforementioned 2002 match to Stanford and falling a season ago to Georgia. A win Thursday would mark Kentucky’s highest finish ever at the NCAA Championships.