STANFORD, Calif.- Jennifer Brady outlasted Krista Hardebeck 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 at the No. 2 spot, providing the clincher as No. 3 UCLA squeaked past No. 4 Stanford in a 4-3 thriller on Friday afternoon at Taube Family Tennis Stadium.
The lone regular-season matchup between the Pac-12 powerhouses definitely lived up its billing, with UCLA (18-1, 6-0 Pac-12) handing Stanford (13-1, 5-1 Pac-12) its first loss in nearly a year and fourth on its home court since 1999.
Friday’s victory temporarily gives UCLA the inside track to the Pac-12 regular-season title, as the Bay Area schools represented its biggest conference hurdle.
However, the loss is hardly damaging to Stanford, which entered the contest as the nation’s lone unbeaten team with quality wins over the likes of Texas, Rice, Florida and California.
The Cardinal suffered its first loss overall since a 4-3 defeat at California on April 19, 2013, snapping a streak of 19 consecutive wins that included last year’s NCAA championship run.
UCLA, which has won the doubles point in every match this year and boasts two tandems ranked in the top-five, grabbed an early 1-0 lead after a hard-fought doubles competition. The Bruins’ No. 2 duo of Catherine Harrison and Kyle McPhillips booked an 8-6 deciding win.
Stanford moved in front 2-1 following straight-set victories from Carol Zhao (6-3, 6-0 at the No. 3 spot) and Caroline Doyle (6-2, 6-3 at the No. 6 position). Both rookies are also Stanford’s hottest players as of late, with Zhao having won 13 in a row while Doyle is riding an 11-match winning streak.
UCLA evened the match at 2-2 following a 6-4, 6-0 victory from Kyle McPhillips over Taylor Davidson on court four.
The Cardinal had won the first set in each of the three remaining matches, but was only able to close out at the No. 5 spot.
In a marquee battle of top-five players at lineup’s No. 1 spot, fourth-ranked Robin Anderson handed second-ranked Kristie Ahn a rare loss when the Bruin netter prevailed 3-6, 6-3, 6-0. It was only the third setback of the year for Ahn, whose 24 victories lead the Cardinal.
Seconds later, Ellen Tsay pulled Stanford even at 3-3 when she contributed a 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 triumph over Catherine Harrison at the No. 5 spot.
Brady’s 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory at the No. 2 spot over Hardebeck sealed the win for UCLA, which beat Stanford for the first time in two years.
Stanford must refocus quickly, with No. 13 USC (14-4, 5-1 Pac-12) visiting The Farm on Saturday at 12 p.m.
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No. 3 UCLA 4, No. 4 Stanford 3
1) No. 10 Ahn/Zhao (STAN) d. No. 1 Anderson/Brady (UCLA) 8-5
2) No. 5 Harrison/McPhillips (UCLA) d. No. 36 Davidson/Tsay (STAN) 8-6
3) Dolehide/Van Nguyen (UCLA) d. Doyle/Hardebeck (STAN) 8-2
Order of Finish: 3, 1, 2
1) No. 4 Robin Anderson (UCLA) d. No. 2 Kristie Ahn (STAN) 3-6, 6-3, 6-0
2) No. 16 Jennifer Brady (UCLA) d. No. 39 Krista Hardebeck (STAN) 4-6, 6-3, 6-3
3) No. 28 Carol Zhao (STAN) d. No. 11 Chanelle Van Nguyen (UCLA) 6-3, 6-0
4) No. 40 Kyle McPhillips (UCLA) d. No. 27 Taylor Davidson (STAN) 6-4, 6-0
5) No. 42 Ellen Tsay (STAN) d. No. 55 Catherine Harrison (UCLA) 6-1, 2-6, 6-4
6) No. 37 Caroline Doyle (STAN) d. Kaitlin Ray (UCLA) 6-2, 6-3
Order of Finish: 3, 6, 4, 1, 5, 2