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2021: Season In Review

Jul 7, 2021

STANFORD, Calif. - Stanford finished 15-5 overall and 8-2 in Pac-12 play during its 2021 campaign, representing perhaps the most unprecedented season in school history both on and off the court.

Stanford was unable to defend its NCAA and Pac-12 championships, resulting in a rare early postseason exit. The two-time defending NCAA champion Cardinal was eliminated by host Pepperdine in the second round, signaling its quickest postseason exit since the field was expanded to 64 teams. Stanford's four-year Pac-12 title run also came to an end, with the Cardinal placing second in league play and falling to California in the semifinals of the Pac-12 Championship.

After winning 10 in a row to open the season, Stanford suffered its first three-match losing streak since 1981.

Stanford's uncharacteristic finish was further complicated by the effects of the COVID-19 global pandemic and accompanying county competition restrictions, which resulted in an abbreviated season as the team reported to campus in February and started its regular season several weeks later than its peers. 

Turning The Page To 2022
Stanford should be right back in the mix for an NCAA title when the spring dual season resumes in 2022. The Cardinal must always be considered a national championship contender regardless of record or seed.

The most decorated program in college history and winningest sport on The Farm, the Cardinal has incredibly won 20 of the possible 39 NCAA championships. Stanford has won 21 national championships overall (20 NCAA, 1 AIAW). 

Stanford is 1,060-111 all-time over 47 seasons of varsity competition. The Cardinal is also 160-20 all-time at NCAA Championships and owns a 51-6 record during the month of May since 2010.

Home Court, Pac-12, Individual Success

Stanford finished 10-1 at home in 2021 and has won 78 of its last 83 matches at Taube Family Tennis Stadium. The Cardinal's only home defeat came against Pepperdine in a 4-3 loss on April 2.

The Cardinal has also won 46 of its last 49 regular-season Pac-12 matches. The signature result was a 4-3 victory over No. 25/22 California in the regular season finale for both teams.

Perhaps the most notable individual honor was Emma Higuchi recording her 100th career singles win on March 20, with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Khim Iglupas at the No. 6 spot. Higuchi finished her career at 110-21 overall and 81-12 in duals, cementing her reputation as one of the most dependable lower-lineup players in the nation. A two-time NCAA team champion (2018-19), Higuchi won 57 individual sets by a score of 6-0 and 13 matches by a score of 6-0, 6-0 during her time on The Farm.

Gordon Completes Standout Career

Michaela Gordon competed at the No. 1 singles position every year of her career, finishing 10-7 as Stanford's highest-ranked singles player at No. 36 with three clinchers in 2021.

Named the ITA Northwest Region Most Improved Senior, Gordon was also named an All-Pac-12 First-Team selection in 2021 for the third consecutive season.

Gordon, who finished her singles career at 75-34 overall and 41-24 in duals, received All-America honors in each of her first three seasons, including singles and doubles accolades as a freshman in 2017-18. She captured four singles titles in her career, including three ITA Northwest Regional Championship crowns from 2017-19.

The 2018 ITA National Rookie of the Year, Gordon was also named the 2019 Pac-12 Singles Player of the Year, becoming the Cardinal's first recipient since 2012.

Gordon also excelled in the classroom as a two-time ITA Scholar-Athlete (2019-20), two-time Pac-12 All-Academic Honor Roll pick (2020-21) and Pac-12 All-Academic Honorable Mention selection (2019).

Arbuthnott's Academic Accolade

Emily Arbuthnott was named the Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year, adding to her extensive collection of academic honors.

The award is presented in each of the 24 sports sponsored by the Pac-12 and was established to honor student-athletes that are standouts both academically and in their sports discipline. In order to be eligible for the Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year award, student-athletes must be a senior, on track to receive a degree, have a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 or higher, participate in at least 50 percent of the scheduled contests in the sport and have a minimum one year in residence at the institution.

Arbuthnott is the fourth Cardinal player to be named Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year, joining Caroline Doyle (2017), Krista Hardebeck (2015) and Lindsay Burnette (2010).

An economics major boasting a 4.197 GPA, Arbuthnott led the Cardinal to two NCAA championships (2018-19) and three Pac-12 titles (2017-19). A two-time CoSIDA Academic All-America First Team honoree (2019-20), Arbuthnott was also a three-time ITA Scholar-Athlete. She has earned academic recognition at the conference level every year, being named to the 2020 Pac-12 All-Academic Honor Roll after two seasons on the Pac-12 All-Academic team (2018-19).

Arbuthnott compiled a 109-34 career singles record. One of Stanford's most clutch players, Arbuthnott provided 31 clinchers during her time on The Farm, with seven of those coming during NCAA play.

Standout Senior Class

Emily Arbuthnott, Michaela Gordon, Emma Higuchi, Taylor Lallas and Janice Shin were honored in a Senior Day ceremony prior to Stanford's April 13 contest against Hawai'i.

Among the accomplishments for Stanford's five-member senior class: two NCAA titles (2018, 2019), three Pac-12 crowns (2017, 2018, 2019), 103-14 overall record, 38-3 Pac-12 record and 54-3 record at Taube Family Tennis Stadium.

Coaching Legends
Stanford's national championship success is evenly split among its coaching legends: Frank Brennan and Lele Forood. 

Brennan finished 510-50 in 21 seasons (1980-2000) as the winningest coach in program history. Brennan guided the Cardinal to 10 NCAA titles, including six in a row from 1986-91. In addition to leading Stanford to 13 consecutive Pac-10 titles, Brennan mentored 34 All-Americans, nine NCAA singles champions and four NCAA doubles champions.

Forood is now 491-51 in 21 seasons (2001-present), having led the Cardinal to 10 NCAA titles and a three-year undefeated stretch from 2004-06. In addition to directing Stanford to 15 conference titles, Forood has coached 25 All-Americans, five NCAA singles champions and five NCAA doubles champions.

Honor Roll 
Emily Arbuthnott
- Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year

Angelica Blake
- All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention

Michaela Gordon
- ITA Northwest Region Most Improved Senior
- All-Pac-12 First Team

Emma Higuchi
- All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention