Repeating their success of 2018, Stanford women’s tennis traveled to Orlando for the final rounds of the NCAA Division I Women’s Tennis Tournament and claimed their 20th NCAA championship title with a 4-0 shutout victory over No. 1 Georgia (28-1, 13-0 SEC) on Sunday. Singles victories from senior No. 66 Caroline Lampl, senior No. 29 Melissa Lord and sophomore Janice Shin were key in helping the Cardinal coast to its 160th postseason victory since 1982.
Cardinal action in Orlando kicked off on Friday with a 4-1 quarterfinal victory over No. 6 Pepperdine (24-4, 9-0 WCC). The No. 19 doubles duo of seniors Lampl and Kimberly Yee fell to Pepperdine doubles pair Jessica Failla and Anastasia Imachkine (6-1) while No. 29 Emily Arbuthnott/Michaela Gordon were defeated by No. 86 Daria Kuczer/Ashley Lahey (6-4) to hand the Waves the doubles point.
Trailing 1-0 was no problem for the Cardinal, however, and the Stanford women took charge with aggressive singles performances. Shin tied things up at 1-1 with a quick win over Kuczer (6-1, 6-1) and Stanford junior Emma Higuchi continued the trend with a defeat of Imachkine at the No. 6 spot (6-2, 6-0). Lord then added a point of her own to Stanford’s side of the fight to bring the score to 3-2 after taking down Adrijana Lekaj (6-1, 6-3).
Putting an end to the Waves’ chance at an upset victory, No. 44 Emily Arbuthnott claimed her 28th career clincher with a win over Dzina Milovanovic (6-1, 6-4), pushing the score to 4-1 and the Cardinal to the Final Four.
On Saturday, Stanford women’s tennis took on No. 2 North Carolina in a semifinal match, defeating the Tar Heels 5-2 to claim its 22nd straight victory. Opting not to repeat Friday’s doubles performance, Stanford secured and early 1-0 lead, with doubles victories coming from Stanford pairs Lord/Shin and Lampl/Yee over UNC’s Sara Daavettila/Alle Sanford and No. 2 Jessie Aney/Alexa Graham, respectively.
Following their dominance in doubles, the Cardinal acquired two quick, though noteworthy singles victories from Lord at the No. 2 spot and freshman Sara Choy at No. 6. Lord’s defeat of No. 7 Graham (6-1, 6-3) was her 100th career singles win, while Choy’s triumph over Sanford (7-5, 6-1) was her postseason debut, not to mention only her third career season dual match, with the most recent one before Saturday played at USC on March 30.
Unfortunately for the Cardinal, UNC then produced two victories of their own thanks to impressive performances by No. 20 Daavettila and No. 46 Cameron Morra at the No. 3 and No. 4 spots, respectively, where they fought past Lampl (1-6, 7-5, 6-2) and Arbuthnott (6-3, 6-4) to shrink the gap to 3-2. Hope was not lost, however, as the Cardinal picked up two more wins in a rare double clinch from No. 24 Gordon and Shin to claim a 5-2 victory over the Tar Heels.
Gordon, at the No.1 spot, and Shin, at the No. 5 spot were serving match point simultaneously, leading officials to rule that a final score of 5-2 should be awarded since both points were in progress. The Cardinal’s conquest of the Tar Heels secured the women’s team a spot in the NCAA Division I Women’s Tennis Championship on Sunday against No. 1 Georgia — Stanford’s fourth-straight finals appearance.
Against Georgia, Stanford came out eager to avenge the loss delivered to them by the Bulldogs in February — the Cardinal’s sole loss among their past 49 matches. The Cardinal once again shot to a 1-0 lead after Gordon/Arbuthnott and Lord/Shin earned doubles victories over Bulldogs pairs Elena Christofi/Vivian Wolff and Marta Gonzalez/Meg Kowalski, respectively.
Though the tight 7-5 and 6-3 doubles battles set the stage for equally close singles matchups, Stanford fought with fury to secure victories at the No. 2, No. 3., and No. 5 spots. Lord earned her 101st singles victory with the Cardinal with her triumph over doubles opponent No. 19 Marta Gonzalez (6-2, 6-4). Lampl took on Georgia’s No. 69 Lourdes Carles, also ascending to victory after two sets (6-2, 6-4).
With 3-0 on the scoreboard and the title within sight, Shin battled her way to Stanford’s third two-set victory of the day, defeating Elena Christofi (6-2, 6-4) and earning her second clincher of the weekend while helping the Cardinal once again claim the title of “National Champions.”
Sunday’s title was the 10th for women’s tennis coach and Peter and Helen Bing Director of Women’s Tennis Lele Forood. The back-to-back championships of 2018 and 2019 are the first time Stanford has had repeat national championships since a three-peat in 2004-2006, though this weekend’s performance was Stanford’s fourth consecutive NCAA Championship appearance.
Contact Savanna Stewart at savnstew ‘at’ stanford.edu.