Freshman Krista Hardebeck and sophomore Ellen Tsay fell in the singles finals of the Championship Division and Invitational Division respectively of the Pac-12 Championships in Ojai, Calif. on Sunday.
After cruising through the first two rounds in straight sets while losing only nine games combined, Hardebeck almost saw herself knocked out by an unranked opponent. Utah’s Sarah Pham gave Hardebeck a scare, winning the first set of their match 6-0. But Hardebeck fought back, taking the second set 7-5 and dominating the third set 6-1 to advance to the semifinals.
In the semifinals, Hardebeck had the rare opportunity to play the underdog role against No. 8 Anett Schutting from Cal. But Schutting could not put up much of a fight, as Hardebeck rolled to a 6-4, 6-2 victory to advance to the finals.
Her opponent, No. 40 Kyle McPhillips from UCLA, almost did not make it that far, thanks to Stanford junior Kristie Ahn. The No. 29 Ahn, who won the Pac-12 singles title in 2011, took the first set from McPhillips in their semifinal match, but lost the last match 3-6, 6-1, 6-4.
In the final, McPhillips took no mercy on Hardebeck, stunning the Cardinal freshman 6-1, 6-0 to grab the Championship Division title easily.
In the Invitational Division, all four Stanford players, senior Natalie Dillon, junior Amelia Herring, freshman Lindsey Kostas and Tsay, advanced to the Round of 16. Dillon and Herring advanced no further, falling to Washington State’s Elizaveta Luzina and USC’s Kaitlyn Christian respectively.
Tsay cruised over Cal’s Cecilia Estlander, but Kostas needed a third-set tiebreaker to defeat the pesky Hannah James from Arizona State. Those wins set up an all-Stanford quarterfinal matchup between Tsay and Kostas, in which Tsay prevailed 6-3, 6-0.
After advancing when Cal’s Tayler Davis retired due to injury, Tsay faced Christian in the final. Christian and Tsay split the first two sets, but Christian prevailed in the third set for a 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 victory — her second over a Cardinal player during the tournament — and the Invitational Division title.
Stanford now turns its focus to the NCAA Championships, which begin on Friday, May 10. The site of Stanford’s first round matchup is still to be determined.