By Alexa Corse
No. 8 Stanford women’s tennis (2-2, 0-0 Pac-12) defeated the St. Mary’s Gaels (1-3, 0-0 WCC) by a 6-1 score on Friday at Taube Family Tennis Center, bouncing back from two tough losses last weekend in Nashville to No. 25 Ole Miss and No. 1 Vanderbilt that dropped the team under .500 for the first time in program history.
Stanford took control early on Friday, as the Cardinal clinched the doubles point with victories at the No. 1 and No. 2 spots. The freshman duo of Melissa Lord and Kimberly Yee continued to perform well at the No. 2 spot, notching the Cardinal’s first victory (6-0) of the day.
Juniors Taylor Davidson and Caroline Doyle rebounded from a rare loss against Mississippi and clinched the doubles point for the Cardinal with a final score of 6-2 at the No. 1 spot. Davidson and Doyle, the No. 10 doubles team in the nation, have amassed an overall record of 15-2 so far this season.
“We came out and played really well in the doubles today,” head coach Lele Forood said. “We have to continue to push the doubles.”
Clinching the doubles point will continue to be crucial for the team’s success, especially until Stanford’s top-ranked player, Carol Zhao, returns to collegiate play in late March or early April. Zhao is playing on the professional circuit this winter and is the top-ranked singles player (No. 339) to compete for Canada in a Fed Cup match against Belarus this weekend.
The Cardinal maintained their focus during singles play, and the energy was palpable in Taube Family Tennis Center. Stanford players exchanged motivating cheers (“Go Stanford!”) and fist pumps, with Doyle taking the lead in vocalizing their motivation.
“You could see [Caroline] Doyle — she was really, really loud and that was awesome,” said freshman Caroline Lampl. “She brought the energy. Kimmie [Yee] was out there yelling ‘Go Card,’ and I was trying to help out too.”
Lampl converted the team’s energy into the Cardinal’s first singles victory (6-3, 6-1) at the No. 4 spot.
The Gaels were determined competitors, and players battled for the first set, especially at the Nos. 1-3 spots. Forood recalled that St. Mary’s and Stanford have a long history of healthy competition.
“We have tremendous respect for [St. Mary’s],” Forood said. “We will never, ever, ever forget their upset of us in 2013. They’ve got great players and we enjoy competing against them.”
On Friday, the Cardinal outlasted the Gaels to sweep the first sets in all six matches.
Senior Krista Hardebeck brought the match score to 3-0 with a 6-3, 6-3 victory at the No. 3 spot. Lord stepped up to clinch the match for Stanford, with a final score of 6-3, 6-2 at the No. 4 spot.
Although Stanford had already secured the team win, the fierce competition continued at the Nos. 1, 2 and 6 spots.
Doyle, ranked 39th nationally, triumphed at the No. 2 spot (6-3, 6-3) in a rare battle between two left-handed players. Serving at 5-3 in the second set, Doyle sailed a forehand beyond the baseline to go down 30-40. Despite being down break point, Doyle directed aggressive forehands into the deep corners of the court and won the point after two well-placed volleys. Doyle took advantage of the no-ad scoring to clinch the match on the following point.
At the No. 1 spot, Davidson, ranked 20th nationally, quickly jumped to a 5-1 lead in the first set. The Gaels’ Jana McCord found her rhythm and consistency, however, and narrowed Davidson’s lead to 5-4. Davidson clinched the first set 6-4 and ultimately held her serve to secure a 6-4, 7-5 win.
Freshman Kimberly Yee endured her second three-set match in the last week after falling against Mississippi at the No. 6 spot (1-6, 6-4, 5-7) last Friday. Yee quickly secured the first set 6-1, but was unable to maintain the momentum in what proved to be the longest match of the day. Parminder Kaur of St. Mary’s eventually prevailed 1-6, 6-4, 6-1.
The match against St. Mary’s kicked off a series of four matches at home throughout February. The Cardinal will next seek to establish a winning streak as they host matches against challenging opponents including No. 22 TCU and No. 3 Florida.
“I think we all just have to work really hard this week,” Lampl said. “We definitely cannot underestimate them.”
Contact Alexa Corse at corsea ‘at’ stanford.edu.