The Stanford women’s tennis team opens their 2019 dual season Saturday, taking on the Saint Mary’s Gaels at 2 p.m. at Taube Family Tennis Stadium.
Last year, the Stanford women’s tennis team opened its season at No. 46 in the national rankings, its lowest position in school history. Junior All-American Melissa Lord was sidelined by a shoulder injury, and many of the Cardinal’s top players had graduated, leaving behind a team predominantly composed of underclassmen. After the Vanderbilt Commodores crushed the Cardinal (0-7) in the second match of the season, Stanford was buried in the rankings below nearly forty teams.
In a comeback for the ages, the Cardinal piled up wins over the next few weeks and skyrocketed all the way to the No. 15 seed by the time the playoffs rolled around. Building up momentum, the team pitched back to back shutouts in the first two matches of the playoffs against St. John’s and Michigan before knocking off the No. 1 seed North Carolina Tar Heels in the round of 16. (4-1) With another shutout in the quarterfinals against Georgia and a victory in the semifinals over Duke (4-2), the Cardinal rode a stunning wave of momentum all the way to the national title match.
The women’s team ended the 2018 season with a national championship upset win and revenge game over No. 1-ranked Vanderbilt (4-3) after going 9-0 in conference play and 24-3 overall on the year. The title was also No. 117 for Stanford Athletics, unseating UCLA for the all-time lead in NCAA team championships.
The Stanford women’s tennis team looks to grab its fifth national championship of the decade this 2019 season, and certainly has the firepower to get it done. Every single starter from that women’s national championship team has returned to play this season, headlined by sophomore Michaela Gordon, junior Emily Arbuthnott and senior Melissa Lord.
They enter the season first in the nation in the ITA Division I Women preseason rankings, just ahead of Vanderbilt and North Carolina, respectively. With championships wins already under their belts this fall tournament season at the ITA Northwest Regional Championships and USTA Collegiate Blizzard Wild Card Challenge, the team has already gotten the ball rolling. With experience and momentum on their side, they should certainly roll right over Saint Mary’s this weekend.
Contact Shan Reddy at rsreddy ‘at’ stanford.edu.