Washington, Washington State, Texas: Each team came and each team fell to Stanford women’s tennis in a rare triple-header weekend. The No. 20 Cardinal (8-2, 2-0 Pac-12) captured consecutive victories on its home courts, blanking each of those three visitors 7-0.
No. 31 Washington was the Cardinal’s first victim. The Stanford players came out strong, sweeping the doubles point to take a 1-0 lead. Led by junior Nicole Gibbs on court one, each of the six girls captured straight-set wins in singles.
Freshman Krista Hardebeck, the No. 14 singles player in the country, was the first to finish her match, taking down Elianne Douglas-Miron with ease, 6-0, 6-2. Senior Stacey Tan later provided the clincher on court four, defeating Julija Lukac 6-3 6-1, before freshman Lindsay Kostas gutted out a 7-5, 7-5 victory on court six nearly an hour later.
“Our team tends to be known for taking the first opportunity to attack,” sophomore Ellen Tsay said. “We like to get on offense.”
That tendency was evident Saturday as well when the Cardinal faced No. 73 Washington State. Stanford came out swinging once again to take the doubles point.
Tan and Tsay were the first to finish their doubles match on court two, defeating Olga Musilovich and Lize Leenknecht 8-1.
“[Tan] and I have been playing with high energy and constantly communicating with each other on the court,” Tsay said. “I think it has made all the difference. We’re having a lot more fun out there, and it’s keeping us looser and more aggressive.”
Gibbs and junior Kristie Ahn also crushed Washington State’s No. 1 doubles team of Liudmila Vasilieva and Elizaveta Luzina by the same 8-1 score.
Stanford continued to dictate in singles. The Cardinal’s top three players breezed through, surrendering a total of just eight games across their three matches. Hardebeck provided the clincher on court three when she defeated Andjela Kankaras 6-1, 6-2. Junior Amelia Herring was the sole Stanford player to drop a set in her victory, battling back from a first-set loss to beat Leenknecht 2-6, 6-4, 1-0 (10-6). The victories over Washington and Washington State gave the Cardinal its first two wins of the season that counted towards the conference standings.
But Stanford’s weekend was not over yet — it still had an uncharacteristic, Sunday-morning match against a non-conference team. No. 38 Texas was no match for the Cardinal early on, as in step with its previous two matches, Stanford swept the doubles point.
In singles, Stanford also continued its perfection, taking all six matches. Gibbs, however, didn’t have it as easy as she had on Friday and Saturday. She had lost just six games amongst four sets against the Huskies and Cougars, but on Sunday, Gibbs lost the first set 2-6 to nationally ranked No. 28 Aeriel Ellis.
Through focus and sheer determination, Gibbs fought back to capture a 2-6, 6-4, 1-0 (10-1) win, dominating the tiebreaker. No. 48 Ahn also had a tough match against her Texas opponent, but beat No. 35 Breaunna Addison 6-4, 7-5.
Stanford has now won four in a row since its last loss to No. 5 Florida in February, dropping only one match — No. 6 singles against Cal — during the run. Why the change?
“After the Florida match, we all talked, coaches included, and addressed what we needed to work on specifically,” Hardebeck said. “We have a completely different mindset now. We’ve been much more focused, our practices are more efficient, and we’re working on staying aggressive.”
The team has also put a greater emphasis on being physical, devoting more time to fitness. That hard work materialized on the court this past weekend when the girls had the difficult task of pushing through three matches in a three-day span.
The Stanford players will now receive a hard-earned rest during dead week and finals week. The Cardinal has the opportunity to improve to 9-2 on March 23 when it takes on Colorado at noon at Taube Family Tennis Stadium.
Contact Chrissy Jones at chrissyj “at” stanford.edu.