By Shan Reddy
After wins over strong opponents in the first two rounds of the ITA National Team Indoor Championships in Chicago this past weekend, the No. 1 Stanford women’s tennis team fell hard in a 0-4 loss to No. 4 UCLA on Sunday. Stanford entered the tournament as the top seed and with 10 wins in the event’s history, though the Cardinal haven’t won since 2011. They were upset last year by Georgia, who would go on to win the 2019 tournament in a 4-3 decision over North Carolina.
The Cardinal started off the weekend in the opening round of the championships on Friday afternoon with a narrow victory over No. 10 Michigan, their highest-ranked opponent yet this season. After capturing the doubles point with wins by No. 25 Arbuthnott/Blake and No. 49 Choy/Higuchi, No. 6 Michaela Gordon dropped the first singles match, falling hard to No. 35 Giulia Pairone (6-0, 6-1). With the score tied up at 1-1, freshman Angelica Blake and senior Emily Arbuthnott grabbed back-to-back victories before Michigan responded with two of its own, tying it back up at 3-3.
The day then fell on the shoulders of senior Emma Higuchi. After dropping the first set, she rallied back to clinch the 4-3 victory for the Cardinal in a three-set win over Anca Craciun (4-6, 6-2, 6-4).
The team continued on to play No. 22 Georgia Tech on Saturday afternoon in the quarterfinals; the Yellow Jackets had beaten No. 12 Ohio State 4-1 the day before. Choy/Higuchi and Gordon/Shin captured the doubles point to push the Cardinal to a 1-0 lead; seniors Sara Choy and Higuchi then grabbed back-to-back singles wins before Gordon dropped the team’s only match of the day to No. 60 Kenya Jones (0-6, 6-1, 6-2).
Arbuthnottt provided the clincher with a straight-set victory over Georgia Tech’s top singles player in No. 49 Victoria Flores (7-5, 6-3), pushing the Cardinal to the next round with a 4-1 win.
The Bruins would prove to be too much for the Cardinal in the semifinals, however; Sunday saw the team’s first shutout loss since Feb. 3, 2018. Boasting the nation’s No. 2 doubles team in Bolton/Hart as well as three players ranked in the top sixteen nationally in singles, UCLA’s depth led the Bruins to a commanding win; they earned all three of their points in singles with straight-set wins, and both of their doubles victories were commanding 6-1 blowouts.
With a tough and teachable loss in the books, the Cardinal return home to Taube Family Tennis Stadium on Friday for a 3 p.m. match against UC Davis.
Contact Shan Reddy at rsreddy ‘at’ stanford.edu.