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Carol Zhao captures USTA/ITA Northwest Regional Championships in all-Stanford final

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In the finals of the USTA/ITA Northwest Regional Championships at the Taube Family Tennis Stadium, it was Stanford’s own sophomores Carol Zhao and Taylor Davidson who went head-to-head for the singles title. The pair advanced to the finals off of three-set victories in the semi-finals, with Davidson beating fellow sophomore Caroline Doyle.

Sophomore Carol Zhao (center) won the USTA/ITA Northwest Regional Championships over fellow Cardinal sophomore Taylor Davidson 7-6 (4), 6-1. The regional final featured two Cardinal players for the first time since 2011. (NICK SALAZAR/ THE STANFORD DAILY)
Sophomore Carol Zhao (center) won the USTA/ITA Northwest Regional Championships over fellow Cardinal sophomore Taylor Davidson 7-6 (4), 6-1. The regional final featured two Cardinal players for the first time since 2011. (NICK SALAZAR/ THE STANFORD DAILY)

On having an all-Stanford final and three in the top four, Zhao said she feels “definitely [a lot of pride], because this year we’re trying to get off to a good start. We have a small group of players this year. It’s very encouraging.”

Of the five Stanford women who were showcased in the tournament, it was Zhao who reigned supreme and captured her first career singles title over Davidson in two sets on Tuesday after five days of competition. She is the fifth consecutive Cardinal to claim the title, after Kristie Ahn (2013, 2010), Krista Hardebeck (2012) and Nicole Gibbs (2011).

Stanford also had a nice showing in doubles play, with the Zhao/Davidson and Ellen Tsay/Doyle duos making appearances in the semifinals. It was only the second tournament appearance for the pairing of Zhao and Davidson. Last year as freshmen, Davidson and Zhao combined for a 56-15 overall record. This was the first all-Stanford singles final since 2011, which featured Nicole Gibbs ’14 defeating Mallory Burdette ’13.

To start, Davidson led 4-1 in the first set, contending with windy conditions. However, Zhao rallied to win the first set in a tiebreaker, and then dominated the second set, clinching the title with a 6-1 set win.

“Deuce points definitely [carry] a lot of pressure, especially at a game like 6-5 when it’s deciding the set,” Zhao said. “So obviously we were both trying to win the point. I’m not a fan of the deuce point, as I’ve said before, but I guess we can just make the most of it to help train ourselves in pressure situations.”

Contact Ashley Westhem at awesthem ‘at’ stanford.edu. 

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Ashley Westhem was Editor in Chief of Vol. 248 after serving as Executive Editor and Managing Editor of Sports. She is the voice of Stanford women’s basketball for KZSU as well as The Daily’s beat writer for the team and aids in KZSU’s coverage of football. She graduated in 2016 and is currently a Communications masters student. Ashley is from Lake Tahoe, California.