Women’s tennis drops lead against rival Florida

Feb. 27, 2013, 1:25 a.m.

For the Cardinal women’s tennis team, this past weekend yielded mixed results: A fantastic 5-2 win against No. 18 Clemson (3-4) on the road on Saturday was unfortunately overshadowed by a frustrating loss to rival No. 4 Florida (6-1) on Sunday. Although both were important matches against top-ranked teams for No. 13 Stanford (4-2), the Florida loss was especially bitter because of the rivalry between the two dynamic programs.

Junior Nicole Gibbs (pictured) and her partner junior Kristie Ahn won both their doubles matches last weekend against Clemson and Florida
Junior Nicole Gibbs (pictured) and her partner junior Kristie Ahn won both their doubles matches last weekend against Clemson and Florida. (SIMON WARBY/Stanford Daily File Photo)

The loss made a dent in the overall Stanford-Florida series, which Stanford continues to lead 17-13. Yet, the loss now stands in the way of Stanford’s previously clear path to the NCAA Championships and the disappointment of the 4-2 decision halted the growing momentum of the women in preparation for the rest of the season. Stanford now sits with a mediocre record of 4-2, but has yet to start Pac-12 play.

The consistent effort of the doubles teams, a determining factor in the win against Clemson, was not enough to put Stanford on top over the Gators. Although Stanford took the lead early in the Florida match with doubles points scored by the No. 1 team combo of juniors Kristie Ahn and Nicole Gibbs and by the No. 2 team combo of senior Stacey Tan and sophomore Ellen Tsay, Florida tied the match even at 1-1 after freshman Lindsay Kostas fell 6-2, 6-2 to Gators junior Olivia Janowicz. Overall, Ahn and Gibbs have a 3-2 record as a doubles pairing, while Stacey Tan and Ellen Tsay are 12-5.

In addition to their Florida doubles win, Ahn and Gibbs contributed greatly to the Clemson contest, winning their No. 1 and 2 singles matches. However, Ahn was beaten in straight sets by Florida junior Sofie Oyen and Stanford freshman Krista Hardeback, who combined with teammate senior Natalie Dillon in a remarkable 8-0 win against Clemson as the No. 3 doubles team, surrendered a 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 loss to the Gators’ junior Alexandra Cercone.

Tsay played a crucial role in both contests, finalizing the 5-2 defeat of Clemson with a crushing 6-0, 6-2 win over freshman Ani Miao and then keeping hopes of the Cardinal alive against the Gators. Her 6-2, 6-2 win over Florida’s Danielle Collins, pushed Stanford back ahead of the Gators, but the devastating combination of losses for Ahn and Hardeback sealed the Cardinal’s fate.

Florida managed to continue its 111-match winning streak at home, adding another one in the win column of its run. The usually consistent and confident Cardinal women have had a shaky start, but it is too early to tell how this year will turn out.

Coming up, Stanford will face California (4-3) on Saturday at home in its first Pac-12 match of the season. The Cardinal is usually strong at home, evidenced by its 184 game home-winning streak in 2011, which was brought to an end by Florida in the title match. Stanford will hope to rally and put the frustrating loss to the Gators behind it before Saturday’s contest.

Contact Anna Blue at ablue ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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