Stanford three-peats as Pac-12 Women's Tennis Champions with win over UCLA
OJAI, Calif. - Top-seeded and No. 5 nationally ranked Stanford (22-1) captured its third consecutive Pac-12 Women's Tennis Championship tournament title and its fourth straight NCAA Tournament automatic bid with a 4-2 comeback victory over No. 2 seed and No. 9 ranked UCLA (18-7) at Libbey Park on Saturday.
The title match beared striking resemblance to last year's tourney finale in which the Bruins took the doubles point and evened the match 2-2, but the Cardinal surged late with key victories once again highlighted by the clincher from junior Emily Arbuthnott at No. 4 singles.
"It's obviously amazing to clinch a final like this," said Arbuthnott, who not only clinched the 2018 Pac-12 team title for the Cardinal but has also secured the winning point in five consecutive meetings against the Bruins.
"We have this joke on our team that I end up clinching all the time. I think it might be the way I play - I don't play too fast or too slowly, but it means a lot," added Arbuthnnott. "Obviously I would have preferred to have won the match point that I had in the second set and get done faster, but I think getting through those three-set matches, especially in situations where you know if you win you've won the match, that it's great character building. I've been in that situation so many times now that I feel quite comfortable."
"She's really solid and her matches go a little longer which is one of the reasons that she clinches a lot," said Stanford head coach Lele Forood. "We have people like [Caroline] Lampl who bangs the ball through the court and gets off the court sooner - it takes a little bit of both."
The Bruins have secured the doubles point in their last seven meetings against the Cardinal, but Stanford has rebounded to win the last five of those contests.
"We've got great singles players," said Forood of her team's resiliency. "That doesn't faze us exactly. We'd like to win it and they [UCLA] were very good in the doubles, so we just know that we've gotta win a bunch of singles matches."
Now with a Pac-12 tourney three-peat in the record book, Stanford will turn its attention to defending its 2018 NCAA National Championship, which it claimed as the No. 15 seed and four top-10 upsets.
"Probably better doubles from us," joked Farood on what it will take to repeat as NCAA champions. "Just a lot of belief like we came through in singles today."
"We're really excited, especially with the new setup this year with teams hosting third rounds as well," said Arbuthnott of the Cardinal's upcoming NCAA Tournament play. "We're really looking forward to getting back and trying to defend that title. It was really close last year, but we have the same team and we know we're capable of it."
The NCAA Women's Tennis Championship Selection Show will stream live on NCAA.com on Monday, April 29 at 3:30 p.m. PT.
2019 PAC-12 WOMEN'S TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIP
Final // Sat., April 27, 2019 // Libbey Park, Ojai, Calif.
No. 1 Stanford 4, No. 2 UCLA 2
1. Gabby Andrews/Ayan Broomfield, UCLA def. Caroline Lampl/Kimi Yee, STAN - 6-4
2. Elysia Bolton/Jada Hart, UCLA v. Emily Arbuthnott/Michaela Gordon, STAN - 6-5 unf.
3. Abi Altick/Taylor Johnson, UCLA def. Melissa Lord/Niluka Madurawe, STAN - 6-3
Order of finish: 3, 1
1. Michaela Gordon, STAN def. Jada Hart, UCLA - 6-4, 6-4
2. Melissa Lord, STAN def. Elysia Bolton, UCLA - 7-5, 6-3
3. Caroline Lampl, STAN def. Ayan Broomfield, UCLA - 6-2, 6-1
4. Emily Arbuthnott, STAN def. Alaina Miller, UCLA - 6-1, 6-7 (3), 6-0
5. Janice Shin, STAN v. Abi Altick, UCLA - 2-6, 6-4, 2-1 unf.
6. Gabby Andrews, UCLA def. Emma Higuchi, STAN - 6-3, 6-2
Order of finish: 3, 6, 2, 1, 4