This week in Stanford sports history: May 15-19

Including tennis dominance, a legendary swim coach retires, softball turn-around

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With NCAA and professional sports currently on hold due to COVID-19, the month of May looks quite different than it has in years past. As many reflect on the 2020 spring sports that could have been, here’s a look back on past coverage from the week of May 15-19 in Stanford athletics history.

This article is part of an ongoing series; the previous article highlights events on May 9-14.

May 15:

2004: Women’s tennis came away with multiple victories at the NCAA Division I Women’s Tennis Championships. The team beat UCLA 4-1, claiming the 13th title in program history, and in singles, then-sophomore Amber Liu became the fourth Stanford women’s player to repeat as champion, following in the footsteps of  Patty Fendick ’87, Sandra Birch ’91 and Laura Granville ’03.

The team had won the title the year prior and would go on to win again in 2006.

May 16:

2001: Then-senior Alex Kim, the defending NCAA Singles Champion at the time, was named TENNIS Magazine/Arthur Ashe, Jr. Leadership and Sportsmanship West Region winner for outstanding sportsmanship and leadership as well as scholastic, extracurricular and tennis achievements.

The two-time team national title winner (1998, 2000) played professionally from 2000-03. The Maryland native was inducted into the Stanford Athletic Hall of Fame in 2011.

Other notable events from this day:

  • 2019 — Kiana Williams attended U.S. Pan American Games Women’s Basketball Team trials (May 16-20 at the United States Olympic Training Center) 

May 17:

2012: Men’s swimming head coach Skip Kenney retired on this day after 33 years at Stanford. He was the most successful coach in the Pac-10, winning 31 consecutive conference titles from 1982 through 2012 — a streak that more than doubles any other coach across sports; the closest is John Wooden’s 14-year streak in men’s basketball at UCLA.

Kenney also shone on the national stage; he won seven NCAA championships and led Stanford to a top-four national finish every year — the longest streak in swim history. Prior to his tenure, the Cardinal had just one NCAA title in the program’s 45-year existence.

The six-time National Coach of the Year and 20-time Pac-10 Coach of the Year also produced 72 individual NCAA champions and 134 All-Americans.

“In addition, 20 athletes went on to the Olympics, winning a total of 18 medals,” wrote Jacob Jaffe. “Kenney coached many of them as Olympic head coach of men’s swimming in the 1996 Games.”

The Long Beach State alumnus’ proudest accomplishment, however, was likely his program’s 100% graduation rate across over three decades, which featured 10 Academic All-Americans.

The Vietnam War veteran was inducted into the Stanford Hall of Fame in 2014. He is also in the International Swimming Hall of Fame and American Swimming Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

Other notable articles from this day:

  •  Wyndam Makowsky’s column: Men’s lacrosse would be a viable addition

May 18:

2019: Softball made its first appearance in a NCAA regional since 2013. The Cardinal won its morning game against Boston University 13-2 but ultimately fell in the afternoon to Boise State 2-0, ending Stanford’s season.

The Cardinal closed that season 33-20 — the team’s first winning year since 2014.

“While it was heartbreaking for the season to end, it could only be considered a success,” wrote Sally Egan. “Not only did softball rise, however, they proved they are going to be a force to be reckoned with in the coming years — as four freshmen worked their way into the starting lineup by the end of the season.”

Before the 2020 season concluded due to COVID-19, softball was 22-4 and on track for another record year.

May 19:

2019: Women’s tennis won the national title for the second consecutive year and was prepared to try for a three-peat before COVID-19 cut this season short.

The Cardinal’s 2019 win was the program’s 20th NCAA championship and came following a 4-0 shutout victory over No. 1 Georgia. Singles victories from No. 66 Caroline Lampl ’19, senior No. 29 Melissa Lord ’19 and Janice Shin ’21 were key in helping Stanford to its 160th postseason victory since 1982. 

 The back-to-back championships of 2018 and 2019 were the first time Stanford had repeat titles since a three-peat from 2004-06. It was head coach Lele Forood’s 10th national championship.

Contact Cybele Zhang at cybelez ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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Cybele Zhang '22 is majoring in English Literature with a minor in German Studies. The Los Angeles-native has served as Sports Editor, her current position, for Vol. 255, 257 and 258. Her writing covers a wide range of sports, but she especially enjoys writing about women in sports and NCAA policy. Contact her at [email protected]