Stanford freshmen Emily Arbuthnott and Emma Higuchi helped No. 25 Stanford women’s tennis (5-1) slip past No. 7 Vanderbilt (5-4) 4-3 this Sunday at home in a dual that featured four three-setters.
Heading into this match, the Cardinal had a lot at stake, as they dropped 20 places in the national ranking after splitting a tough road campaign, defeating No. 6 Oklahoma State before falling to No. 1 Florida. While this drop comes from the implementation of a computer-based ranking system, the Cardinal now have their backs against the wall and need to take advantage of matches against ranked opponents.
Stanford opened the day by taking the doubles point, triumphing in two of the three courts. On Court 3, Higuchi and sophomore Caroline Lampl cruised to an easy 6-0 victory to give Stanford an early advantage. The Commodores quickly rebounded as they took Court 1 by a score of 6-3 after Astra Sharma and Emily Smith put an end to Arbuthnott and senior Taylor Davidson’s attempted comeback from a 5-0 deficit.
Sophomore Melissa Lord and senior Caroline Doyle clinched the doubles point for Stanford after winning their match 6-4.
Stanford’s lead was short-lived, as No. 5 Sharma defeated No. 65 Davidson in straight sets on Court 1, 6-4, 6-1. Lord brought the Cardinal back on top after winning 6-0, 7-5 on Court 2. This win marked Lord’s 10th straight victory, and her 14th of the season. While it seemed like Doyle was in control of her match after she took the first set 6-4, she eventually fell on court two in three sets, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.
Higuchi’s team-high 16th win in three sets at the No. 6 position put Stanford only a point from victory. Higuchi won her first set 6-3, before falling behind 3-6 in the second. She managed to rebound and take the final set 6-4 in one of her toughest college sets. Higuchi closed out the match by winning its final three games.
It looked like Lampl would provide Stanford’s clinching point as she came back from a 5-2 deficit in the third set, but Vanderbilt’s Christina Rosca eventually came out on top, triumphing 7-5 in the final tiebreaker.
As Lampl finished her match, Arbuthnott had climbed back from a 2-0 deficit in the third set, and things were tied at 3-3. Arbuthnott had triumphed 6-2 in the first set before Emma Kurtz slipped by 6-3 in the second. The Cardinal freshman earned a 5-3 lead, but she failed to convert two match point opportunities at 5-3. Kurtz climbed back at 5-5, and forced a tiebreaker after Arbuthnott broke to take the command of the game 6-5. In the tiebreaker, Arbuthnott fell behind 5-3, but managed to win four straight points to take the game 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (5) and consequently clinch the Cardinal win.
The team will face Fresno State at home on March 3 for their next match.
Contact Alexandre Bucquet at bucqueta ‘at’ stanford.edu.