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Aggies tennis women ring in the new year with No. 1 Stanford

By From page B1 | January 22, 2014

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UCD's Megan Heneghan — shown hitting a backhand in a match last year — played well in the fall and is expected to be a team leader when the Aggies open spring play on Friday at Stanford. Wayne Tilcock/Enterprise file photo

UC Davis women’s tennis coach Bill Maze knows a little about the Stanford program.

The three-time Cardinal All-American graduated in 1978 — after playing No. 1 doubles with John McEnroe during his senior season.

In his 19 years coaching the Aggies, Maze’s teams have always tried to keep his alma mater on the schedule.

On Friday, the two meet again as Stanford hosts the locals at 3 p.m.

Always a tough outing — UCD has two set victories in the schools’ last five meetings — the spring-slate opener provides another uphill climb for the Aggies.

Stanford is the defending national team champion and, until somebody proves otherwise, is ranked No. 1.

“The best team in the history of college women’s tennis,” Maze says. “Dominant over the last 20 years … they don’t win every year, but it’s up there.”

The Cardinal has won 17 NCAA team crowns since the postseason was introduced in 1982. It has been a runner-up six times.

Coming off a fall campaign that saw a handful of injuries slow UCD’s progress, Maze says the invitational season was about what he expected …

And that means senior Megan Heneghan is ready to lead the Aggies.

With Melissa Kobayakawa, Layla Sanders and Nicole Koehly out with injury in October, Heneghan posted a match win at the USTA/ITA Northwest Regional Championships. She and former Laguna Creek High star Tiffany Pham were the only two locals to do so.

“It was a shame those three were out,” Maze explains, adding that it would have been nice to gain that experience.

But with Kobayakawa, Sanders and Koehly healthy again, Maze says his women are ready to roll.

Friday’s singles ladder, according to Maze, is almost set: Heneghan at No.1, followed by Sanders, Koehly (up from No. 5 or 6 last season), Kobayakawa and Pham. There remains a battle for the sixth spot.

Sanders and Koehly return as the No. 1 doubles duo with Heneghan and Cupertino native Kobayakawa playing No. 2. Pham and Samantha Martino — a freshman from Katy, Texas — round out the tandem lineup for Friday.

Apparently, as Heneghan goes, so go the Aggies. In 2013, the former Beckman High (Tustin) All-CIF performer was 11-13 in singles. UCD was 11-13 as a team and went 4-5 in Big West Conference action.

“She’s maybe the best ever we’ve had at Davis,” Maze says.

Heneghan and Sanders were 3-8 in doubles.

As for Friday’s outing against Stanford, among the stumbling blocks for UCD are Kristie Ahn and Ellen Tsay.

Senior Ahn just won her fourth straight NCTC Classic crown at Indian Wells while teaming with freshman Carol Zhao to capture the doubles title.

Tsay is coming off a recent win at the Freeman Memorial Tournament in Las Vegas.

“They’re just loaded,” Maze says. “And the great thing about Stanford is how respectful they are.”

Maze says the Cardinal will send out its top lineup Friday.

Notes: Looking ahead, there are some must-circle dates on the UCD home schedule. The Aggies have three important Big West matches in quick succession at Marya Welch Tennis Center: Cal State Fullerton (April 4), UC Irvine (April 6) and Cal State Northridge (April 8). Sacramento State — which fell to UCD last year — is in town Feb. 23. “That should be a good one,” Maze says, adding that the Hornets will be, well, angry. “It would be great to get a lot of folks out there.” The Aggie home season begins Feb. 7 with Nevada (1:30 p.m.).

— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at [email protected] or 530-320-4456.

Bruce Gallaudet

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