Women’s tennis falls in second round of NCAA Tournament

May 8, 2021, 8:35 p.m.

No. 28 Stanford (15-5, 8-2 Pac-12) women’s tennis saw its season come to a close Sunday afternoon in Malibu, Calif., as it fell 4-2 to No. 5 Pepperdine (29-3, 8-0 WCC).

The two schools faced off in what was a much-anticipated rematch following a thriller at Stanford earlier this season. In that matchup on April 2, Pepperdine handed the Cardinal their sole home loss of the year, a 4-3 victory that came down to a dramatic 8-6 third-set tiebreaker victory by the Waves at the No. 5 singles spot.

The Cardinal jumped out to an advantage in doubles. Despite a 4-1 deficit on court one, the pair of fifth year Emily Arbuthnott and sophomore Angelica Blake, as well as junior Sara Choy and fifth-year Emma Higuchi grabbed an early break to put themselves up 3-1 on their respective courts.

Pepperdine secured the first doubles set, as senior Michaela Gordon and junior Niluka Madurawe fell 6-3 to Pepperdine’s duo of sophomore Lisa Zaar and graduate student Ashley Lahey, the preseason No. 1 singles player in the nation.

But Stanford’s other two pairs continued to pull away, each going up 5-2 with a chance to serve out the set. Arbuthnott and Blake delivered while the other pair was broken, but Choy and Higuchi held a 5-3 lead. The lead became 5-4, and this time the Cardinal served it out winning a dramatic deciding point at 40-40 to secure the doubles point.

With the doubles point, Stanford needed a split in the six singles matches. The first sets played out that way, with Gordon and Higuchi prevailing 6-3 and 6-2, respectively, while Choy mounted a comeback to secure the set 7-6 (5).

After the tiebreaker on court five, two matches wrapped up quickly. Both were Pepperdine victories, with freshman Ana Geller losing 6-1, 7-5 on court four, and Arbuthnott falling 6-4, 6-1 on court three.  

Soon after, Higuchi sealed a comfortable 6-2, 6-2 victory on court six, tying the two teams up at 2-2. With their seasons on the line, these two squads were headed towards another nail biter.

After fighting back to take the second set, Blake dropped the third 6-3, putting Pepperdine a match away from victory.

Pepperdine got the victory, as Lahey took the last two sets from Gordon 6-4, 6-4 in a highly-contested match, sealing the deal for the Waves.

The defeat spells the end of Stanford’s season as the Cardinal fall short of a third-straight national title. Pepperdine advances to the third round and will fly to the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla., where the rest of the tournament will take place.

Jibriel Taha is a senior staff writer for the sports section. He is from Los Angeles and studies economics. Contact him at jtaha ‘at’ stanforddaily.com.

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