NCAA Women's Tennis Championships: Stanford edges Ohio State to reach finals
The Stanford women's tennis team continued to work its May magic Monday in Atlanta as Taylor Davidson outlasted Ohio State's Gabriella De Santis in a third-set tiebreaker to give the seventh-seeded Cardinal a 4-3 win over the third-seeded Buckeyes to advance to the NCAA finals. Stanford will face top-seeded Florida Tuesday at 2 p.m. PT for a chance to claim its second straight and19th NCAA championship in program history.
4-3 Stanford. Will play for the NCAA title Tuesday. pic.twitter.com/7M6lQXy5Xl
— StanfordWTennis (@StanfordWTennis) May 23, 2017
Davidson's clinching point on a long rally capped a considerably long day for the Cardinal and Buckeyes, as their semifinal match was delayed six hours due to weather and moved from the University of Georgia to Georgia Tech.
Despite having 18 NCAA championships to its credit and being the defending champs, Stanford has made a name for itself as an underdog, and Monday night's victory made the Cardinal 16-2 in its last 18 NCAA tournament matches when being the lower seed.
Stanford overcame a 2-0 deficit to usurp the Buckeyes Monday night after dropping the doubles point and first singles match when Caroline Doyle quickly fell to Francesca Di Lorenzo, the top-ranked singles player in the country, 6-1, 6-0.
The Cardinal finally got on the board when Emily Arbuthnott, who provided the clinching point in the quarterfinal victory over North Carolina, took down Sandy Niehaus in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3. Melissa Lord dominated her third set against Anna Sanford at No. 2 singles to knot things up at 2-2, while Emma Higuchi took care of court six for her 22nd win in a row to give Stanford a 3-2 edge.
Higuchi's streak wasn't the longest on the court Monday night, however, and Ohio State's Miho Kowase won her 27th straight match by narrowly edging out Caroline Lampl 3-6, 7-6, 7-5 on court four to push the deciding point to No. 3 singles.
Davidson, which had erased a 4-1 deficit in the first set to take it 6-4 and dropped the second set 6-2, was trailing 6-5 in the third set by the time Lampl fell to Kowase and had to break serve to stay alive. Back against the wall, Davidson ripped off four quick points to force a third set tiebreaker, which she eventually won 7-5 after it was level at 3-3.
— Dylan Jackson (@Dylan_Jackson79) May 23, 2017
Stanford and Florida have a long history on the grandest stage, as Tuesday's championship match will be the 10th time the Cardinal and Gators have met in the NCAA finals. Stanford has won six of the previous nine NCAA finals meetings against Florida.