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Women’s tennis sweeps through Southern California to remain unbeaten

Nicole Gibbs

Junior Nicole Gibbs went 1-3 over the weekend, but her team stayed perfect. (MADELINE SIDES/The Stanford Daily)

Stanford women’s tennis captured consecutive 5-2 victories this past weekend in its Southern California tour, beating both San Diego and Pepperdine to remain undefeated.

On Friday against No. 49 San Diego, the top of the singles lineup dominated play. Juniors Nicole Gibbs and Kristie Ahn both posted easy wins, despite having previously lost their doubles match on court one to San Diego’s Shani Blecher and Laura Claus 8-6. In singles, Gibbs disposed of USD’s Stephanie Hoffpauir 6-2, 6-2 at the No. 1 spot while Ahn gave up just three games in her 6-2, 6-1 defeat of Blecher on court three. Stanford also won the doubles point in spite of the loss on court one, winning 8-3 on court two and 8-5 on court three.

Sophomore Ellen Tsay easily moved past Anna Depenau 6-0, 6-2 at the No.4 spot. On court two, nationally No. 2 ranked freshman Krista Hardebeck, who had been ill with the flu earlier in the week, dropped the first set against Claus, but was able to pull out a win in a third set tie breaker 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (8).

“I was happy that I was able to focus and push through,” Hardebeck said. “It is tough to know you’re down a set, but your opponent still has an entire set too so it’s a long ways to go for both players. Anything can happen.”

It was the back of the lineup that struggled against San Diego. USD’s Marta Stojanovic defeated senior Stacey Tan in a tight straight-set match, 6-4, 7-6 (2) while senior captain Natalie Dillon lost to Cara Brown in another tight contest, 7-6 (4), 7-5.

But when Stanford traveled north to Malibu on Saturday to play No. 33 Pepperdine, the individual successes were reversed even though the final score was the same (5-2). This time, it was the bottom end of the line up that pulled out the team victory.

Gibbs and Hardebeck accounted for the Cardinal’s two losses. Gibbs fell to Pepperdine’s Lorraine Guillermo 7-5, 6-1 while nationally ranked No. 92 Khunpak Issara came back in dramatic fashion to beat the Card’s No. 2 Krista Hardebeck after being shut out the first set (0-6, 6-4, 1-0 (6)).

“Obviously it’s a lot more fun to win than lose,” Hardebeck said, “but you can learn a lot from situations like that. [Issara] started setting up her game nicely after the first set, and I didn’t make the changes that I needed to in order to prevent her from keeping momentum.”

Though the rare losses from Gibbs and Hardebeck were frustrating, they came after Stanford had already clinched the match by going up 4-0.

“The main goal is a team win, so it was a little bit of a relief when I found out we had won after losing my second set,” Hardebeck said. “We played a ten-point tiebreaker after though instead of a third set, which can be a coin toss at times.”

She also noted that whether or not the players are aware of where the team scores depends on the location of the match. At Stanford, all six match scores are posted on a large screen. At Pepperdine, there was no indicator for the players.

“You have to focus on yourself though,” she said. “Don’t let anything else get to you.”

Gibbs also was unable to pull out a team point with Ahn on the No. 1 doubles court for the second match in a row to Pepperdine’s Guillermo/Issara duo 8-2.

“Nicole has a very mature mindset,” Hardebeck said. “We all know that one loss won’t define your career at the end of the day. You just have to let it go and continue to work hard.”

With that, it’s back to another week of practice for the Cardinal before it faces Saint Mary’s this weekend.

“I think that we are all just going to keep working on match play and sets, as well as our mental toughness,” Hardebeck said. “We will keep building the base that we already have.”

Stanford will host the Gaels this Saturday at noon at the Taube Family Tennis Courts.

Contact Chrissy Jones at chrissyj@stanford.edu.