By Jibriel Taha
No. 28 Stanford (15-5, 8-2 Pac-12) women’s tennis saw its season come to a close Sunday afternoon in Malibu, Calif., as it fell 4-2 to No. 5 Pepperdine (29-3, 8-0 WCC).
The two schools faced off in what was a much-anticipated rematch following a thriller at Stanford earlier this season. In that matchup on April 2, Pepperdine handed the Cardinal their sole home loss of the year, a 4-3 victory that came down to a dramatic 8-6 third-set tiebreaker victory by the Waves at the No. 5 singles spot.
The Cardinal jumped out to an advantage in doubles. Despite a 4-1 deficit on court one, the pair of fifth year Emily Arbuthnott and sophomore Angelica Blake, as well as junior Sara Choy and fifth-year Emma Higuchi grabbed an early break to put themselves up 3-1 on their respective courts.
Pepperdine secured the first doubles set, as senior Michaela Gordon and junior Niluka Madurawe fell 6-3 to Pepperdine’s duo of sophomore Lisa Zaar and graduate student Ashley Lahey, the preseason No. 1 singles player in the nation.
But Stanford’s other two pairs continued to pull away, each going up 5-2 with a chance to serve out the set. Arbuthnott and Blake delivered while the other pair was broken, but Choy and Higuchi held a 5-3 lead. The lead became 5-4, and this time the Cardinal served it out winning a dramatic deciding point at 40-40 to secure the doubles point.
With the doubles point, Stanford needed a split in the six singles matches. The first sets played out that way, with Gordon and Higuchi prevailing 6-3 and 6-2, respectively, while Choy mounted a comeback to secure the set 7-6 (5).
After the tiebreaker on court five, two matches wrapped up quickly. Both were Pepperdine victories, with freshman Ana Geller losing 6-1, 7-5 on court four, and Arbuthnott falling 6-4, 6-1 on court three.
Soon after, Higuchi sealed a comfortable 6-2, 6-2 victory on court six, tying the two teams up at 2-2. With their seasons on the line, these two squads were headed towards another nail biter.
After fighting back to take the second set, Blake dropped the third 6-3, putting Pepperdine a match away from victory.
Pepperdine got the victory, as Lahey took the last two sets from Gordon 6-4, 6-4 in a highly-contested match, sealing the deal for the Waves.
The defeat spells the end of Stanford’s season as the Cardinal fall short of a third-straight national title. Pepperdine advances to the third round and will fly to the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla., where the rest of the tournament will take place.