WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – It was meant to be anyone other than Stanford this year. Until, of course, the Cardinal decided otherwise.
Closing the year on a dominating 20-match win streak, the Cardinal righted the ship in March, breezed through conference play in April and blitzed through the postseason in May, punctuating another incredible run by capturing its 19th NCAA championship with a 4-3 victory over Vanderbilt on Tuesday afternoon.
It might feel a little odd for 20-time national champion Stanford (19 NCAA, 1 AIAW), long regarded as the sport’s gold standard having now won 19 of the possible 37 NCAA crowns, to be celebrating such success as an underdog.
But, really, how can it not? Matching its improbable 2016 NCAA title run as the lowest-seeded team at No. 15 to win it all, Stanford just ripped through a gauntlet of higher seeds in No. 2 North Carolina, No. 7 Georgia, No. 3 Duke and No. 1 Vanderbilt. The Cardinal has now won 20 of its last 23 NCAA Tournament matches when seeded lower than its opponent.
So, you’ll have to forgive Stanford if this year’s postseason ambush has a “been there, done that” feel. Five years ago, Stanford won it all as a No. 12 seed. Eight years ago, the Cardinal took home the hardware as a No. 8 seed. Stanford improved to 153-19 all-time in the NCAA Tournament and 44-5 during the month of May over the last eight seasons.
It would have been difficult to envision this type of reversal during the first week of March, when Stanford (24-3, 9-0 Pac-12) checked in at No. 46 in the national rankings, its lowest position in school history. The Cardinal was sitting at a modest 4-3 overall, with its three losses coming against postseason regulars such as Vanderbilt, Texas and Florida. Junior All-American Melissa Lord wasn’t expected back for three more weeks following a shoulder injury and for the first time since the NCAA shifted to a 64-team field in 1999, Stanford was in serious jeopardy of not even hosting the first and second rounds for the first time.
But the wins started piling up, Lord got healthy and by the start of NCAA’s, Stanford had skyrocketed 31 spots in the rankings. Its reward – despite winning the Pac-12 for a third straight year – was a No. 15 seed and possible matchups against North Carolina and Duke in a tournament setting played 90 minutes away.
Once again, none of it mattered, and Vanderbilt – which pounded Stanford 7-0 in Nashville back on Feb. 3 – became the latest victim in Stanford’s annual practice of making a mockery of the bracket.
It certainly didn’t matter when Vanderbilt (27-4, 12-1 SEC) secured the doubles point and grabbed a 1-0 lead in Tuesday’s match. After all, Stanford had been in this exact position against North Carolina in the round of 16 and Duke in the semifinals. The Cardinal has now won 15 of its last 20 matches when losing the doubles point, a remarkable stretch that covers the last three years.
The Cardinal evened the match at 1-1 following a 6-3, 6-2 win from Emma Higuchi over Summer Dvorak at No. 6. The nation’s top player at her position, Higuchi closed out the year with 17 consecutive wins, having not tasted defeat since Feb. 24.
Caroline Lampl then delivered a 6-4, 6-2 win at the No. 3 position, giving Stanford a 2-1 advantage. Notching her team-best 76th career win, Lampl’s season paralleled Stanford’s, with the junior winning 12 of her final 13 matches after a 9-6 start.
Vanderbilt leveled the match at 2-2 when 11th-ranked Astra Sharma defeated Michaela Gordon 7-6 (3), 6-3 at the top spot of the lineup.
Stanford surged in front 3-2 when Janice Shin picked up her 25th win of the season, taking down Emma Kurtz 6-3, 6-3 on court five.
The Commodores kept threatening and knotted the match at 3-3 after Amanda Meyer outlasted Emily Arbuthnott 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 at the No. 4 spot.
That left everything riding on court two, where Lord and Contreras had split sets. Lord, who missed the first meeting due to injury, made her presence felt with a 6-4, 2-6, 7-5 victory, improving to 15-0 over her career in NCAA team matches and providing her first clincher of the season.
The title also represented No. 117 for Stanford Athletics, which moved one spot in front of UCLA for the all-time lead in NCAA team championships.
No. 15 Stanford 4, No. 2 Vanderbilt 3
1) No. 11 Contreras/Sharma (VANDY) d. No. 3 Arbuthnott/Gordon (STAN) 6-3
2) No. 69 Kurtz/Smith (VANDY) d. No. 84 Lampl/Kimberly Yee (STAN) 6-4
3) Lord/Shin (STAN) d. Meyer/Rosca (VANDY) 6-4
Order of Finish: 1, 3, 2
1) No. 11 Astra Sharma (VANDY) d. No. 15 Michaela Gordon (STAN) 7-6 (3), 6-3
2) No. 40 Melissa Lord (STAN) d. No. 10 Fernanda Contreras (VANDY) 6-4, 2-6, 7-5
3) No. 93 Caroline Lampl (STAN) d. No. 44 Chris Rosca (VANDY) 6-4, 6-2
4) Amanda Meyer (VANDY) d. No. 43 Emily Arbuthnott (STAN) 4-6, 6-4, 6-2
5) No. 96 Janice Shin (STAN) d. Emma Kurtz (VANDY) 6-3, 6-3
6) No. 102 Emma Higuchi (STAN) d. Summer Dvorak (VANDY) 6-3, 6-2
Order of Finish: 6, 3, 1, 5, 4, 2All-Tournament Team
No. 1 Singles – Astra Sharma, Vanderbilt
No. 2 Singles – Melissa Lord, Stanford
No. 3 Singles – Caroline Lampl, Stanford
No. 4 Singles – Ida Jarlskog, Georgia Tech
No. 5 Singles – Janice Shin, Stanford
No. 6 Singles – Emma Higuchi, Stanford
No. 1 Doubles – Astra Sharma and Fernanda Contreras, Vanderbilt
No. 2 Doubles – Emma Kurtz and Emily Smith, Vanderbilt
No. 3 Doubles – Meible Chi and Hannah Zhao, Duke
Most Outstanding Player – Astra Sharma, Vanderbilt
Hart, Andrews & Broomfield of UCLA head to ITA Fall Championships
UCLA Bruins News
SURPRISE, Ariz. – The UCLA women’s tennis team will officially mark the end of the 2018 portion of its schedule at the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships this week, when it sends five players to the Surprise Tennis & Racquet Complex. The five-day event will conclude Sunday, Nov. 11, with ESPN3 and the ESPN App providing live coverage of the singles finals.
Seven Top-10 singles players from the Oracle/ITA preseason list and five Top-10 doubles tandems are in the star-studded field. UCLA will be represented by two singles players and two doubles teams. It was recently announced that the Fall Championships singles winners will be granted main-draw wildcard spots in the 2019 Oracle Challenger Series tournament. More information is available HERE.
Heading up the Bruin contingency is the red-hot doubles duo of Gabby Andrews and Ayan Broomfield, which has now claimed back-to-back titles after topping the Jack Kramer Collegiate Tournament field. Previously, the pair won the ITA Southwest Regional Championships doubles title to earn an automatic bid in this week’s draw. For the year, Andrews-Broomfield holds an unblemished mark at 8-0. Seeded sixth, the pair will face off with Air Force’s TJ Fumagalli-Kristin Kerrigan Wednesday.
Earning an at-large doubles bid, meanwhile, was the 29th-ranked combination of Elysia Bolton and Jada Hart. The pair, which turned in strong performances at the Riviera/ITA All-American Championships and ITA Regionals, currently sits at 7-2 on the year. Bolton-Hart is staring down top-seeded and third-ranked Michaela Gordon and Emily Arbuthnott of Stanford in the first round.
Bolton, who is No. 3 among freshmen according to Oracle/ITA, also picked up an at-large berth in the singles draw. Seeded 13th, Bolton will face Princeton’s Stephanie Schrage in opening-round play. If victorious, Bolton could take on 2017 NCAA singles champion Brienne Minor of Michigan in the second round and past Oracle ITA Masters foe No. 3 Estela Perez-Somarriba of Miami in the Round of 16. Bolton is 7-3 across three highly-regarded tournaments this fall.
Joining Bolton in the singles draw is sophomore teammate Abi Altick, who also picked up an at-large nod. No. 52 Altick will take on No. 20 Marianna Petrei of Idaho in search of her sixth win of the fall. Two of Altick’s five triumphs thus far have come over ranked opponents (No. 53 Sabina Machalova of Ole Miss, No. 51 Petra Melounova of Hawai’i).
Andrews-Broomfield Claims Regional Title
By UCLA Athletics
SAN DIEGO – The UCLA women’s tennis doubles duo of Ayan Broomfield and Gabby Andrews fought back Monday to take the ITA Southwest Regional Championships doubles title and claim a spot in November’s Fall Championships. The pair defeated Ashley Lahey and Evgeniya Levashova of Pepperdine, 1-6, 6-4, 1-0 (8), in a thrilling final.
It was a successful trip South for the Bruins, who had three teams reach the doubles semifinals and three singles quarterfinalists. Each of the seven Bruins in action tallied at least one singles win over the five-day event. The doubles title marked a repeat performance for Andrews, who teamed with Jada Hart to win last year.
Andrews-Broomfield was fast out of the gate, defeating duos from Grand Canyon and San Diego State by 8-0 and 8-3 scores, respectively. The quarterfinal round marked the pair’s first match against a Pac-12 foe in crosstown rivals Angela Kulikov and Rianna Valdes of USC. Andrews-Broomfield would keep rolling, earning a spot in the semifinals with an 8-3 victory and setting up a showdown with teammates Abi Altick and Alaina Miller.
Altick-Miller had defeated a pair of San Diego-area teams before notching an impressive quarterfinal-round win over Pepperdine’s Jessica Failla-Anastasia Iamachkine, 8-2. The all-Bruin semifinal, which was a best-of-three-sets affair, needed a tiebreak in the first. Andrews-Broomfield edged its counterpart and then doubled up Altick-Miller in the second for a 7-6, 6-3 win.
On the other side, 29th-ranked Elysia Bolton-Jada Hart cruised into the semis with three 8-3 wins. There, the freshman-junior combination was edged in a close one, 7-6, 6-4, by No. 26 Lahey-Levashova.
The Pepperdine pair looked destined for the title with a 6-1 first-set win over Andrews-Broomfield. The Bruins charged back, though, forcing a tiebreaking first-to-10 third set. The back-and-forth final set ultimately went to the Bruins. The 1-6, 6-4, 1-0 (8) victory sends Andrews-Broomfield to Surprise, Ariz. for the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships, to be played Nov. 7-11.
In singles, six Bruins made the Round of 32, while five reached the Round of 16. No. 86 Miller had two hard-fought wins to reach that round, while fellow senior Broomfield took it a step further by defeating No. 104 Dzina Milovanovic of Pepperdine, 7-6, 6-3, in the quarterfinals. Broomfield’s win avenged Andrews’ loss to Milovanovic one round earlier. No. 15 Jada Hart beat Jenny Moinard of San Diego State, 6-3, 7-6, before watching her journey end versus Pepperdine’s Jessica Failla in three sets.
Underclassmen Abi Altick and Elysia Bolton had standout performances, as both reached the semifinals. Each notched a big win in the quarters, as No. 52 Altick defeated No. 51 Petra Melounova of Hawai’i (6-3, 7-6) and Bolton ousted No. 41 Levashova (6-1, 4-6, 6-2). Freshman Katie LaFrance recorded the first win of her Bruin career, 6-1, 6-3 over Autum Prudhomme of Grand Canyon in an extra match.
For full results from the tournament, click here.
Freshman Salma Ewing Wins ITA Southwest Regional Singles Championship
By USC Athletics
Freshman Salma Ewing won the ITA Southwest Regional Singles Championship this morning (Oct. 22). The No. 5 ranked Freshman/Newcomer in the nation defeated Pepperdine’s Jessica Failla 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 in the finals to claim the championship title.
Ewing is USC’s ninth ITA Regional Singles Champion, with the most recent being Zoë Scandalis in 2015.
With the win, Ewing has secured placement in the ITA Fall Championships, which will take place on Nov. 7-11 in Surprise, Ariz.
After having a bye in the Round of 128, Ewing blasted through the rounds of 64 and 32 with decisive two-set wins.
In the Round of 16, Ewing faced off against No. 86 Alaina Miller of UCLA, and won with a 6-3, 6-3 score. After securing placement in the Quarterfinals, it appeared she would have to take on the No. 1 seed in the tournament, Pepperdine’s Ashley Lahey. Ewing defeated Lahey, the No. 4 ranked player in the country, with a 6-2, 6-4 score to punch her ticked to the Semifinals.
On Sunday, Ewing beat another Bruin, No. 52 Abi Altick 6-1, 6-3 to lock down her spot in the final match on Monday morning.
After falling in the first set 3-6 to Pepperdine’s Jessica Failla, Ewing battled back in true Trojan form to win the next two sets 6-2, 6-2 to claim the match and the singles title.
Fellow Trojan freshman Danielle Willson also had a strong showing at the tournament as she reached the Round of 16 where she fell to No. 41 Evgeniya Levashova of Pepperdine.
In the doubles portion of the competition, two Trojan pairs reached the Quarterfinals: No. 27 ranked duo Kulikov/Valdes and Branstine/Weissmann. Kulikov/Valdes fell to UCLA’s Andrews/Broomfield 8-3, and Branstine and Weissmann lost to UCLA’s No. 29 Bolton/Hart.
For full results from the tournament, click here.
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