Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Stanford lands nation's top female recruit

   Krista Hardebeck, the top female recruit in the nation, signed a letter of intent Wednesday to attend Stanford.
   Hardebeck, from Santa Ana, chose Stanford over UCLA.
   "I've always wanted to go to Stanford, since I was maybe 7 or 8," Hardebeck, who turned 17 in September, said on tennisrecruiting.net on the first day high school seniors could sign. "I was still pretty set on Stanford up until I took my UCLA visit, but I really liked UCLA, so I had a really big decision, a really tough one. But I remembered all the great things at Stanford, and I decided to choose them."
   At 15, Hardebeck was featured in the Aug. 2, 2010, issue of Sports Illustrated as a future star. As a qualifier, Hardebeck reached the semifinals of a $25,000 professional tournament in Rancho Santa Fe in the San Diego area in January and the quarterfinals of a $50,000 event in Las Vegas in September. 
   In the first round in Las Vegas, she stunned fourth-seeded Mirjana Lucic, who won the 1998 Australian Open doubles title at 15 with Martina Hingis and reached the Wimbledon singles semifinals at 17 the following year before personal problems with her father derailed her career.
   The Stanford women have won the NCAA team title more often than not, eight times, since 1997. They narrowly missed winning their second consecutive crown in May, falling to Florida 7-6 in the third set of the deciding match in the NCAA final at Stanford. Freshman Kristie Ahn, the Cardinal's No. 4 singles despite being ranked 15th nationally, missed the match with a sprained ankle.
   The loss ended Stanford's 184-match home winning streak spanning more than 12 years.
   Hardebeck, who plans to play professionally, told tennisrecruiting.net that she will stay at Stanford for at least two years unless she does "amazing" as a freshman. The daughter of two physicians, she is interested in a pre-med major but doubts her commitment to tennis would allow it.  
   Hardebeck is coached by Robert Van't Hof, the 1989 World TeamTennis Male MVP as a member of the Sacramento Capitals who later tutored former world No. 1 Lindsay Davenport.
   Of tennisrecruiting.net's 17 blue-chip recruits who have committed to schools, Hardebeck was the only one to choose Stanford. North Carolina landed three (Ashley Dai of Temple City, Whitney Kay of Alpharetta, Ga., and Kate Vialle of Leawood, Kan.) and UCLA (Kyle McPhillips of Willoughby, Ohio, and Chanelle Van Nguyen of Miami), Georgia Tech (Catherine Harrison of Germantown, Tenn., and Kendal Woodard of Stockbridge, Ga.) and Vanderbilt (Frances Altick of Monroe, La., and Courtney Colton of Davie, Fla.) two each.
   Northern California girls who have committed to colleges are Christiana Ferrari of St. Mary's in Stockton (Pacific), Brooke Irish of Amador Valley in Pleasanton (USF), Katya Vasilyev of Foster City (Boston College) and Olivia Hsu of Santa Rosa (Brown).
   The Stanford men, meanwhile, landed three blue-chip recruits to lead all schools. Headed to the Farm are Anthony Tsodikov of San Francisco, Trey Strobel of Bradenton, Fla., and Nolan Paige of Fairfield, Conn. (the hometown of former world No. 4 James Blake).
   Landing two blue chippers each were Illinois (Jared Hiltzik of Wilmette, Ill., and Alexander Jesse of Mequon, Wisc.), Texas (Andrew Korinek of Mansfield, Texas, and Nicholas Naumann of The Woodlands, Texas) and Duke (Josh Levine of Syosset, N.Y., and Michael Redlicki of Hawthorn Woods, Ill.).
   Neither the Cal men nor women have received a commitment from a blue-chip recruit, according to tennisrecruiting.net.
   Other Northern California boys who have committed to colleges are Matthew Alves of Gold River (UC Santa Barbara), Daniel McCall of San Francisco (Duke), Nicholas Hu of Palo Alto High School (Harvard), Nico Lunardi of Los Gatos (Washington) and Brian Aria of Bishop O'Dowd in Alameda (UC Davis).
   Schnack eliminated -- At 23 years old and 5-foot-10, Yasmin Schnack is four years older and eight inches taller than Kurumi Nara of Japan.
   But Schnack, an Elk Grove resident who played for the Capitals as a WTT rookie in July, was no match for Nara in the first round of the $75,000 Goldwater Women's Tennis Classic in Phoenix. Nara, ranked No. 144 in the world, dismissed Schnack, ranked No. 400, 6-2, 6-3.
   Fifth-seeded Zhang Shuai of China demolished Tammy Hendler, a 2008 Capital, 6-1, 6-0, but three other former Capitals are scheduled to play Thursday in the second round. 
   Sixth-seeded Coco Vandeweghe (2009) of Rancho Santa Fe will meet Olga Puchkova (two matches in 2008) of Russia, and Michelle Larcher De Brito (2007 WTT championship team) of Portugal will face Nara.
   Larcher De Brito upset top-seeded Irina Falconi of Atlanta in the first round.     

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