Stanford seems to compete nationally in every collegiate sport, and that’s no different for the Stanford Men’s Tennis team. Last year, they made it to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament, and this year, they have even higher expectations.
A big part of Stanford’s success comes from their head coach, Paul Goldstein. Goldstein arrived on the Farm just three years ago, and his presence was immediately felt. In his first year, he was named PAC-12 Coach of the Year, and he quickly led the team back to the NCAA Tournament. As an incredible professional player, Goldstein has become a respected teacher by his players.
Jack Barber, a member of the Stanford tennis team, pointed out, “I think one of the biggest things [Goldstein] brings to the table is his experience as a player. As a student, you need to be able to respect and trust the guy who's giving you advice on and off the court. As Paul was a top 60 professional all the way up until 2008, it's quite easy to pay attention and listen up when he's talking! Furthermore, being such a successful former-player gives you the opportunity to attract high quality recruits as we've got three great guys coming in this year.”
As a former pro, Goldstein has brought in top recruits, but for Barber, he came to Palo Alto for other reasons. He was deciding between USC and Stanford and was ready to commit to USC. However, he began to have second thoughts.
“The biggest component to my decision to attend Stanford was if I had elected to go to USC, for the rest of my life I think I would have wondered "what if" I went to Stanford,” he mentioned, “Everybody says it, but Stanford unquestionably offers the best combination of athletics and academics.”
Barber was sidelined as a freshman and most of last year because of a wrist injury but will certainly make his return as a threat this season. After two surgeries and almost two years of rehab, Barber finally returned to the tennis court as a sophomore and beat the tenth ranked college player in his collegiate debut.
Despite being kept off the court, Barber’s leadership was noticed by Stanford athletics, and they awarded him the Arthur F. Dauer Memorial Sports Performance Award which "honors the student-athlete who not only gives the absolute best of themselves every day on and off the field of competition, but who also brings out the best in those around them through their positive attitude, relentless work ethic, and their consistent commitment to athletic performance development.”
As a rising junior, Barber is excited for his first full season of Stanford tennis and said, “While last year I only had 6 real weeks of practice going into season, this coming year will be a different story. I'll actually have some matches to draw on and will have had a really good training block that should hopefully keep me healthy and on the court as much as possible.”
Stanford has plenty of other players returning to the court aside from Barber, and the team looks as good as ever. Specifically, Tom Fawcett will be a senior for the Cardinal and has been the team’s top player for three straight years. Also returning is David Wilczynski, who became a dependable asset for the team last year. Furthermore, freshman Alex Geller is coming to campus with plenty of deserved hype and will most likely make an immediate impact. Geller was a junior Wimbledon finalist in boys singles and Wimbledon winner in the boys doubles, so with a star in Fawcett and a future star in Geller, the future looks just as bright as the present.
Barber concluded, “I don't see any reason why we won't be a top dog heading into NCAA's next year.”