Claiming their second consecutive NCAA Division I Women’s Tennis Championship was simply the latest triumph for the 2018-19 Stanford women’s tennis team (28-1, 10-0 Pac-12) in a season full of individual and team accomplishments.
For seniors No. 25 Melissa Lord, No. 61 Caroline Lampl and unranked Kimberly Yee and Elizabeth Yao, the 2019 season was the third time in their four years of Cardinal play that the season concluded with Stanford boasting the title of “National Champions,” with the other two coming in 2016 and 2018.
After beginning the season in January with three wins against unranked Saint Mary’s (14-8, 3-1 WCC), No. 36 Washington State (19-11, 3-7 Pac-12) and No. 33 Princeton (19-5, 7-0 Ivy League), Stanford secured a place at the ITA National Indoor Team Championships, previewing the success in store for the Cardinal this season. However, the promising 3-0 run was cut short at the indoor tournament when No. 1 Stanford fell to No. 2 Georgia (28-2, 13-0 SEC) in a close 4-3 battle that also ended the team’s historic 25-match winning streak.
Bouncing back from its only defeat of the season was no problem for the Cardinal as the the team fought its way to 14 straight wins, completing the regular season with a 19-1 record.
The postseason kicked off on April 25 with a 4-0 shutout victory over Washington State at the Pac-12 Championships in Ojai, California. From there, the one-seed Cardinal went on to secure wins over four-seed No. 16 USC (20-8, 7-3 Pac-12) and two-seed No. 7 UCLA (21-8, 8-2 Pac-12) to claim the program’s fourth consecutive conference title. Though the Cardinal were unable to secure the double’s point in the title match against the Bruins, strong singles performances from Lord, Lampl, No. 24 Michaela Gordon and No. 46 Emily Arbuthnott helped carry the team to victory.
Opening the NCAA Championships and its 38th straight postseason appearance, then No. 3 Stanford took down unranked New Mexico State (15-10, 3-2 WAC) at Taube Family Tennis Stadium on May 4. Freshman Niluka Madurawe made her postseason debut in style, clinching the match at the No. 6 spot with triumph over New Mexico’s Chloe Gavino (6-2, 6-2) to send the Cardinal to a second-round match against No. 31 Syracuse (14-13, 5-9 ACC). Unable to match Stanford’s momentum, Syracuse ultimately fell to the defending NCAA champions (4-1).
After earning the right to host No. 14 Kansas (21-5, 7-2 Big-12) in the third round of NCAA Championships play at Taube Family Tennis Stadium for the final home match of the season, the Cardinal managed to survive a tight 4-3 contest and punch its ticket to Orlando, where the final rounds of the tournament were held. Once in Florida, Stanford picked up a 4-1 victory over No. 6 Pepperdine (24-4, 9-0 WCC) and a 5-2 win over the formidable No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels (33-2, 14-0 ACC) en route to the NCAA Division I Women’s Tennis Championship, where the Cardinal was able to avenge its defeat earlier in the season by Georgia in a 4-0 decision.
Against North Carolina, Melissa Lord acquired her 100th career singles victory thanks to an upset victory over No. 7 Alexa Graham (6-1, 6-3). Lord was one of four Cardinal players — the other three being Gordon, Lampl and Arbuthnott — awarded All-Pac-12 honors. Gordon was also named the Pac-12 Singles Player of the Year in addition to her selection on the All-Pac-12 First Team. Demonstrating its strength off the court, the Cardinal had six players selected to the Pac-12 All-Academic Teams, with Arbuthnott — an economics major — earning a spot on the All-Academic First Team with a 4.14 grade point average.
The team’s performance this season is just another display of the program’s continued success. Stanford women’s tennis remains the university’s most decorated program with a remarkable 20 national championships.
Contact Savanna Stewart at savnstew ‘at’ stanford.edu.