The Stanford women’s tennis team is already back at work, kicking off its 2011-12 campaign this month and rebounding from a heartbreaking loss to Florida in last year’s NCAA Championship match to start the year on a good note.
This past weekend, sophomores Elizabeth Ecker and Amelia Herring, freshman Ellen Tsay and senior Veronica Li represented the Cardinal in the St. Mary’s Invitational. The headline of the weekend was Tsay, the sole freshman on the squad, who made it all the way to the semifinal round of the tournament.
“I had a great time because I’m not used to having teammates pump me up during and in between my points,” Tsay said of her first college tennis match. “Just hearing ‘Hear we go, Card’ really boosted my morale, especially in a tight match.”
Tsay cruised through her first round match, defeating Megan Heneghan of UC-Davis with ease, 6-1, 6-0. Her second match was closer, as she beat Saint Mary’s Jade Frampton 7-5, 6-2. Tsay won by default in the quarterfinals, then dropped the first set against Saint Mary’s Jenny Julien 6-4 in the semifinals, but came back ready to play in the second set.
“The entire match was up and down,” Tsay explained. “I lost the first set, but in the second set, I felt I stepped up my game and controlled the court.”
Tsay rallied from a 4-1 deficit to come back and take the set 6-4.
“[Julien] became more and more frustrated in the second set, which allowed me to get back in it,” she said.
It all reversed in the third set, though, as Tsay fell 7-5 after leading 4-1.
“She regained her confidence and came back to win,” Tsay admitted. “It was a great experience and could have gone either way. The main thing is, I’ll learn from what I failed to do, namely closing out the match, and continue working on my game.”
Ecker described the team atmosphere that Tsay highlighted as a big reason for her good play this past weekend.
“[Ellen] definitely adds a lot of character and spunk to the team,” Ecker said. “She’s adjusting to college life and the independence that comes with it, as each of us did, so the team’s a great source of support and motivation for her.”
Ecker and Herring were both defeated in the first round of the tournament, and Li made the round of sixteen. The doubles duo of Herring and Tsay made the quarterfinals before defaulting due to Herring suffering an injury. Regardless of their own results, Tsay’s teammates were all impressed by how their new freshman played.
“She did such a great job staying calm and keeping her composure under pressure in the first match of her college career,” Ecker said, “and we are all so proud of her.”
The weekend prior to St. Mary’s Invitational, the Cardinal sent junior Mallory Burdette, sophomore Nicole Gibbs and junior Stacey Tan to Pacific Palisades, Calif. to represent the Cardinal in the ITA All-American Championships. After losing her first round singles match to Alabama’s Mary Anne Macfarlane, Burdette flew through four consolation rounds to capture the consolation title over Florida’s Joanna Mather, 6-1, 6-2.
Burdette and Gibbs proved to be a formidable pair as they won five straight matches as a doubles team to seize the doubles championship over Florida’s Allie Will and Sofie Oyen, 6-2, 7-6 (2).
This coming weekend, Stanford Women’s tennis will have the opportunity to demonstrate its dominance in the ITA Northwest Regional Championships here on the Farm. All healthy Cardinal players will be showcasing their talents on their home courts. Tsay in particular is excited to play on her turf for the first time and hopes to use her strengths to her advantage.
“I try to come into net a lot during the point to finish it off, and I like moving forward in general,” she said. “I think I have a good court sense that allows me to work the point and move my opponent around, something I intend on doing this weekend. I really want to increase my first serve percentage and hit even more aggressively against my opponents.”