No. 26 women’s tennis (6-0, 3-0 Pac-12) grinded out a 4-1 win against No. 25 Arizona State (9-4, 3-1 Pac-12) in the team’s first real test of the season.
Arizona State started the doubles portion with a level of aggression the Cardinal had yet to see in a match in 2021. Senior Michaela Gordon and junior Niluka Madurawe responded with strong play of their own. The first point of the eighth game captured this perfectly.
Leading four games to three, the Cardinal went toe-to-toe in a long rally with the Sun Devils, as both teams forced the other off-balance. Gordon chased down and returned two shots over her left shoulder, but it wasn’t enough to win the point. That long point wasn’t enough to put together a set victory for Arizona State, however, as Madurawe and Gordon then promptly closed out the set with a 6-3 score.
Fifth-year Emily Arbuthnott and freshman Ana Geller finished a few minutes later, winning their set 6-4. Clinching the point from the super-set cut fifth-year Emma Higuchi’s and junior Sara Choy’s match short, though the pair was two points away from winning their own set 6-3. Nevertheless, the Cardinal started singles play with the 1-0 advantage.
Gordon, ranked tenth nationally, continued on the back foot against Arizona State’s Ilze Hattingh, who occupies the 37th spot on the national rankings. Gordon saw herself down 15-40 in eight of the first set’s ten games. She fell in the first set 6-4, but managed to grind out a 6-4 victory to force a third tiebreak set.
Next to Gordon on the courts at Taube Family Tennis Center, both Arbuthnott and Geller won their matches in straight sets, and put the Cardinal one point away from securing the match.
That point came from Higuchi, who started out hot, winning her first set 6-0, but her opponent came roaring back to the tune of 6-1 in the second set. Higuchi once again found her footing and closed out the third set and the match for the Cardinal, but not before her doubles partner Choy fell in straight sets 6-2, 6-4 to give Arizona State their only point of the day.
Higuchi’s win cut Gordon’s and Shin’s match short, but the two will join the rest of the team in action again tomorrow against Arizona (9-7, 0-4 Pac-12) on the Farm.