By Alex Bhatt
No. 46 Stanford women’s tennis (6-3, 2-0 Pac-12) started out conference play this weekend with two huge victories against No. 13 UCLA (8-3) on Friday and No. 47 USC (7-3) the next morning at Taube Family Tennis Stadium.
The women had not played since their loss to Florida on Feb. 24, as their most recently scheduled match versus No. 6 Pepperdine was cancelled due to rain. Nevertheless, the Cardinal continued to exert their dominance over Pac-12 opponents with a 4-3 comeback victory against the Bruins and a clean 4-0 sweep over the Trojans. Last season, the Cardinal were a perfect 10-0 in conference play. And with these back-to-back victories against their southern California rivals, the women’s tennis team has now won 41 of its last 44 matches at home dating back to 2015.
Stanford’s rust showed as the Bruins pounced to an early 2-0 lead on Friday. UCLA’s Alaina Miller defeated Stanford junior Kimberly Yee (6-3, 6-2) at the No. 6 singles position, while Stanford’s No. 3 doubles also suffered a 6-3 loss. But Stanford immediately fought back, evening the score at two victories apiece on the backs of sophomore Emma Higuchi (6-4, 6-2) and junior Caroline Lampl (6-2, 6-4) on courts five and two, respectively.
After UCLA gained a 3-2 lead with a win at the No. 4 singles position, it was up to freshman Michaela Gordon and sophomore Emily Arbuthnott to rally a comeback. Gordon beat her second straight top-10 ranked opponent, downing No. 8 Ena Shibahara 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 at the No. 1 position. Gordon came into the week the No. 17 ranked singles player in the NCAA and will surely see her position rice after this weekend’s performance. Finally, with the match on the line, Arbuthnott came in the clutch with a 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 victory to give the Card their most spirited win of the season thus far.
Stanford carried Friday’s momentum into Saturday morning’s match against USC, making quick work out of the Trojans. The Cardinal won or were leading in all games except one at the end of the match. At the No. 1 spot, Gordon put away her opponent early (6-1, 6-2). Other big wins came from freshman Janice Shin at the No. 4 spot (6-1, 6-1). Yee defeated Alexa Corcoleotes 6-3, 6-1 at the No. 6 spot, her first career match-clinching victory and sixth win of the season.
With these two wins and the first against a ranked opponent this season, Stanford looks poised to bring home its third straight conference title. The last Cardinal three peat in women’s tennis occurred 2010-2012.
Stanford’s will host Utah on Friday, March 16 at 1:30 p.m. The match will be live streamed on Streamingtennis.com.
Contact Alex Bhatt at abhatt21 ‘at’ stanford.edu.