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W. Tennis: Card tops Oklahoma, advances in NTICs

It didn’t start well against No. 39 Oklahoma (2-1), but after dropping the doubles point for the first time this year, Stanford’s women’s tennis team (3-0) breezed through singles play to defeat the Sooners, 6-1, in the second round of the National Team Indoor Championships. Stanford now qualifies for the main event of the NTICs, which begin on Feb. 17.

Dropping the doubles point is something that occurs very rarely for the Cardinal. Last season, it happened just three times, with two coming in the NCAA Tournament.

“[Oklahoma] takes a lot of pride in their doubles,” said sophomore Mallory Burdette, who sat out with an injury this past weekend. “They played super well, and some days that is just going to happen. They were happy to have won the doubles point, but they still had a mountain to climb if they wanted to beat us.”

The Cardinal’s No. 1 team of senior Hilary Barte and sophomore Stacey Tan suffered a surprisingly lopsided 8-1 loss against the nation’s No. 31-ranked doubles pair in senior Ana-Maria Constantinescu and freshman Alice Radu. Junior Veronica Li and senior Carolyn McVeigh dropped their match, 8-5. In another promising showing, the freshman pair of Kristie Ahn and Nicole Gibbs dominated their opponents, 8-1, for Stanford’s lone doubles win.

Freshman Kristie Ahn, above, helped kickstart the Cardinal by securing a 6-1, 6-0 win out of the No. 2 spot in singles play. (BRYANT TAN/The Stanford Daily)

“We went through a really bad patch earlier this year,” Ahn said on her partnership with Gibbs. “We had four losses in a row after doing really well with Regionals. We were considering splitting up and trying different things out, but since then, I think we’ve stepped it up a lot.”

Faced with a 1-0 deficit, the Cardinal quickly came out and erased any momentum Oklahoma gained from their doubles wins. Playing at the No. 2 spot, Ahn was first off the court, conceding just one game in a 6-1, 6-0 drubbing of Oklahoma’s Whitney Ritchie. Soon after, Gibbs posted an equally impressive 6-0, 6-2 win over Marie-Pier Huet.

“I was really fired up yesterday,” Ahn said. “Especially after losing the doubles point. I think at [positions] 1, 2 and 3, we were just so pumped, and we were cheering each other on. At one point, Hilary and I won a point at the same time. We looked over, our eyes met, we both got fired up and I just got really into it from there.”

Barte put Stanford within one point of victory with her 6-0, 6-2 defeat of Constantinescu. Tan clinched the match with a quick three-setter, dropping the first set before finding her zone and surrendering only one more game for a 3-6, 6-1, 6-0 victory. Li defeated her opponent, 6-4, 6-0, and McVeigh finished hers off as well, 6-4, 6-2, as Stanford swept the singles.

“I was especially impressed after we dropped the doubles point that everyone bounced back and took care of their business,” Burdette said. “My freshman year, we had a bad experience the first time we dropped the doubles point. We ended up losing to UCLA, 6-1. It’s good the freshmen experienced that and bounced back as well as they did.”

Earlier in the weekend, Stanford faced No. 65 Cal Poly (1-2) in the first round of qualification. Cal Poly was making its first-ever program appearance in the 60-team Kick-Off Weekend for NTICs, but failed to record the upset.

Stanford swept the doubles with Barte and Tan clinching the point with an 8-2 victory. Ahn and Gibbs won, 8-3, and Li and McVeigh won their match, 8-2. In singles, Tan was the first one off the court with a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Jennifer Cornea. Gibbs playing at No. 3, finished up next after recording a 6-0, 6-3 score. Li clinched the point with another 6-1, 6-0 win over Jocelyn Davis. The remaining three matches were not finished.

Stanford will continue NTIC competition in Virginia on Feb. 17. Before that, though, the Cardinal faces a tough test in visiting UCLA on Feb. 5 at 12 p.m.