Despite cruising to a 6-1 win against UNLV (7-4) on Saturday in Taube, Stanford women’s tennis (4-3) lost for the first time in almost two years at home as it fell to the hand of rival Florida (5-4) 4-3 the next day.
“Obviously it was a pretty disappointing result, but there were definitely good moments,” sophomore Emily Arbuthnott said. “[Florida] really came out swinging, and played a very good match.”
With the score tied at 3-all, sophomore Caroline Lampl fought in a third set on Court 2 to attempt to clinch the match for the Cardinal. Up 5-1 in the first set of her match, Lampl could not cut the momentum of Josie Kuhlman, Florida’s second-best player, as she stormed back to take the first set 7-5. Lampl fired back as she won five games in a row to take the second set 6-1, but she was down 5-2 in the final set. The sophomore was not able to come back as Florida captured the thirteenth chapter of a rivalry that begun in the 2010 NCAA title game.
In eight years, the two teams have faced-off 13 times while claiming a combined six national titles. Stanford still has the edge with seven victories, but has lost its last three duals against the Gators.
On Sunday, the dual match was entertaining from start to finish. As doubles play got underway, Stanford’s top pair — sophomore Emily Arbuthnott and freshman Michaela Gordon — jumped to a 5-1 lead on Court 1. Yet, Stanford’s other two pairs both went down by a break. The Gators took Court 2 but Arbuthnott and Gordon, the top pair in the country, struck back with a 6-2 win to make things even. On Court 3, sophomore Emma Higuchi and freshman Janice Shin came back from a 3-1 deficit and Stanford earned the doubles point.
“[Gordon and I] played well [in doubles],” Arbuthnott said. “The first couple of matches, we felt a bit of pressure, but I think we just learned to be a little more relaxed and we’ve got some good formations in place, and we know how each other works now.”
The momentum gained in the first part of the dual didn’t last long for the Cardinal, as Stanford lost five of the six games in the first set in singles. It looked like it was going to be a long afternoon, as points on every court started to get longer, and the matchups seemed even across the board.
“We lost too many first sets,” head coach Lele Forood said. “It’s hard to climb out of that hole, especially against teams that are very competitive.”
The Cardinal fell behind after Florida won the point on Courts 4 and 5. Higuchi’s court was the first to finish as she dropped her match in a 6-4, 6-2 decision. Although ahead 5-4 in the second set, Shin also fell on Court 4 by the score of 6-4, 7-5. Down 2-1 after those two games ended, the Cardinal still had four players on the courts, all engaged in a third set.
Arbuthnott was the first one to score in singles for Stanford. After falling behind in the first set, the British native found her zone in the following two sets and stormed past Florida’s Victoria Emma, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.
Out on Court 6, junior Kimberly Yee had also bounced back in the second set, but eventually fell in the third, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2. With the score now at 3-2, Stanford needed wins from both of the two spots.
Gordon stepped up and tied things up at three apiece as she overcame Florida’s Anna Danilina at the top of the lineup. The freshman came away with the three-set 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 win a game where both players had long streaks. With the action concluding on all other courts, attention turned to Court 2, where Kuhlman provided Florida with the win.
On the previous day, Stanford had coasted past UNLV 6-1. The Cardinal quickly took the doubles point with wins at the No.1 and No.3 spots, 6-4 and 6-1, respectively.
Lampl double the lead with an easy 6-1, 6-1 win at the second spot, and Arbuthnott followed her teammate on the neighboring court. The sophomore put the Cardinal within one of the victory with a 7-5, 6-2 win. Shin contributed her second clincher this season with a straight-set 6-2, 6-2 success at the No. 4 spot. All other Stanford player won their matches, with the exception of Gordon who fell in three sets at the top spot, 1-6, 6-2, 6-3.
The Cardinal’s schedule doesn’t get any easier as the team continues its nine-game homestand. Stanford welcomes No. 2 Pepperdine next weekend, and will also face Pac-12 rivals USC and UCLA the following week.
“We’re gonna start better in our matches, in singles,” Forood said. “We need to come out of the gate a little bit better, and hopefully we win more first sets. We gotta find a way to get at least three wins.”
Contact Alexandre Bucquet at bucqueta ‘at’ stanford.edu.