The nation’s most storied women’s tennis program remains in capable hands thanks to the leadership of head coach Lele Forood, who begins her 15th season at the helm in 2014-15.
The 2003 ITA National Coach of the Year and five-time Pac-10 Coach of the Year, Forood has also served as an assistant and associate head coach at Stanford for 14 years following an All-American playing career on The Farm.
During Forood’s coaching tenure, the Cardinal has compiled an eye-popping 350-26 record, captured seven NCAA team titles and won the conference crown outright or claimed at least a share of the hardware in all but four seasons since 1987.
Despite reaching the postseason as a double-digit seed once again in 2014, Stanford advanced to the NCAA semifinals for the fourth time in five years. The No. 11-seeded Cardinal was ultimately edged 4-3 by No. 7 North Carolina, snapping an improbable streak of nine consecutive NCAA Tournament victories when seeded lower than its opponent. Stanford also overcame the early departure of back-to-back defending NCAA singles champion Nicole Gibbs while three freshmen made their lineup debuts. In addition, Stanford’s entire six-player singles lineup qualified for the NCAA singles draw.
The 2013 NCAA team title was extremely memorable, as Stanford captured its 18th national championship (17 NCAA, 1 AIAW) and became the lowest-seeded squad at No. 12 to capture an NCAA crown. Improving to 64-6 in the postseason under Forood, Stanford knocked off the tournament’s Nos. 5, 4, 1 and 3 seeds along the way, including two-time defending champion Florida in the semifinals. The championship single-handedly extended Stanford Athletics’ streak of 37 consecutive years winning at least one NCAA title and heavily factored into the Cardinal securing its 19th straight Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup.
Stanford has also performed at an unprecedented level on the individual side under Forood’s watch, producing five NCAA singles champions and five NCAA doubles teams. In addition to Amber Liu (2003-04) and Nicole Gibbs (2012-13) claiming back-to-back singles titles, the Cardinal has produced three of the last five championship doubles teams.
Stanford, which has made 33 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, has also produced several lengthy winning streaks over the last decade under Forood that instantly require a double-take. Recognized as the longest home winning streak of any NCAA Division I intercollegiate sport before Ohio State’s men’s tennis team surpassed the mark in 2014, Stanford won 184 dual matches in a row at Taube Family Tennis Stadium in a stretch that spanned 12 years since a loss during the 1999 campaign. The Cardinal won 157 consecutive regular season duals on its home court during a 13-year run from 1999-2012. Stanford also compiled an 89-match winning streak from 2004-2007, resulting in three undefeated seasons and three NCAA titles until a February loss in 2007.
In 2012, Stanford finished 21-2 and earned a share of the Pac-12 regular-season title at 9-1. However, the Cardinal’s bid for a third straight NCAA final appearance was halted by a quarterfinal loss to USC, representing only the fourth defeat over the last three years combined. Competing in arguably the nation’s best conference, Stanford closed out the year ranked No. 5 in the country and handed national champion Florida its only loss.
Meanwhile, the final day of NCAA Championships proved to be a historic one, as teammates squared off in the singles final before later pairing up in the doubles title match for the first time in NCAA history. Gibbs became only the third Stanford player to claim collegiate singles and doubles championships during the same season. Gibbs defeated Mallory Burdette 2-6, 7-6 (5), 6-3 in the singles final, before the duo paired up one hour later to claim the doubles crown with a 6-2, 6-4 triumph over Georgia's Nadja Gilchrist and Chelsey Gullickson.
With a 28-1 record in 2011, the Cardinal made yet another deep postseason run despite falling to Florida in the NCAA title match. Two lengthy streaks were also snapped in the process, beginning with Stanford’s first loss since Feb. 26, 2010- a stretch of 47 consecutive wins. Additionally, Florida became the first opponent to win a dual match on Stanford's home court since California posted a 5-4 victory back on Feb. 27, 1999. The NCAA-record streak at the time spanned more than 12 seasons, resulting in 184 consecutive wins and two national championships (2002, 2006). Meanwhile, Hilary Barte and Mallory Burdette claimed the NCAA doubles title, while Stacey Tan became only the 10th unseeded player to appear in the championship singles match despite falling in the final.
Stanford claimed its 16th NCAA championship in school history during the 2010 campaign and first since a dominant three-year title run ended in 2006. After starting the postseason with three straight 4-0 shutouts, Stanford (26-1) knocked off No. 1 Baylor and No. 6 Notre Dame before posting a dramatic 4-3 win over No. 3 Florida in the national championship contest. The Cardinal went 8-0 in league play, claiming its first Pac-10 championship since a 21-year title streak ended in 2009. Barte and Lindsay Burdette teamed up to win the NCAA Doubles crown, bringing home Stanford’s first doubles title since 2005. Mallory Burdette was named Pac-10 Freshman of the Year and turned a 5-4 third-set deficit into a 7-5 victory at the No. 3 position to clinch Stanford’s national title win over Florida.
Five years ago, Stanford finished 19-5 overall while reaching the round of 16 at the NCAA Championships for the 24th straight season. The Cardinal finished third in the Pac-10 at 6-2, snapping the program’s streak of 21 consecutive Pac-10 titles. Meanwhile, Barte earned All-America honors in both singles and doubles for the second straight year and teamed with Lindsay Burdette for a runner-up finish in the NCAA Doubles Championship final.
Stanford finished 22-5 in 2008, advancing to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championships before falling to Baylor. The Cardinal joined UCLA as Pac-10 co-champions at 7-1, while Barte, Lindsay Burdette and Jessica Nguyen were honored as All-Americans. The ITA National Rookie of the Year, Barte produced a team-best 30-8 overall mark and became the first freshman in school history to win at least 30 overall matches and 20 duals since Theresa Logar (38-4 overall, 27-0 duals) in 2004.
The Cardinal wrapped up the 2007 season at 24-2 and 8-0 in Pac-10 play. Stanford’s run of eight consecutive NCAA Championships finals appearances came to end when the Cardinal was upended by UCLA in the semifinals. Prior to suffering a 4-3 loss to Georgia Tech on Feb. 3, 2007, Forood directed the Cardinal to a historic 89-match winning streak that spanned three undefeated seasons (2004-06) and resulted in three NCAA titles, three Pac-10 championships and numerous conference and national accolades along the way.
In 2006, Forood guided the Cardinal to a 30-0 ledger and its 15th NCAA championship. The Cardinal posted a 4-1 victory over Miami in the title match, claiming the hardware on its home court as both men’s and women’s competitions were held at the same site for the first time in NCAA history. Five different players (Alice Barnes, Celia Durkin, Amber Liu, Logar and Anne Yelsey) earned All-America honors in the process.
Forood led Stanford to a 27-0 record and a 4-0 shutout of Texas in the 2005 NCAA Championship match. Barnes and Erin Burdette, the ITA Doubles Team of the Year, were crowned NCAA champions, besting teammates Liu and Yelsey in the final. The Cardinal also won its 18th Pac-10 team title, while Barnes and Yelsey captured the Pac-10 doubles championship.
The first of three straight undefeated seasons occurred in 2004, as the Cardinal finished 29-0 and downed UCLA 4-1 in the NCAA championship match. Forood helped Liu win her second straight NCAA singles title, while the doubles pair of Lauren Barnikow and Erin Burdette was named the ITA and Pac-10 Doubles Team of the Year.
Forood became the first female head coach to win the NCAA team title in 2001 with a 4-0 victory over Vanderbilt. The championship was the first for Forood, an assistant coach for five national title runs from 1989-1991 and in 1997 and 1999. She guided the Cardinal to a stellar 30-0 mark in her rookie season at the helm, in addition to the 2000 Pac-10 championship and a final No. 1 national ranking. The 2001 campaign is one of 10 perfect seasons in school history.
Forood was an assistant coach for 10 years under legendary skipper Frank Brennan before being promoted to associate head coach in March of 2000. In 1997, Forood’s efforts in helping lead the Cardinal to the NCAA title were recognized nationally as she was named the ITA Division I National Assistant Coach of the Year.
An All-American at Stanford 1976- the first year All-American accolades were awarded- Forood was a National Collegiate singles finalist as a freshman and a semifinalist during her sophomore campaign in leading Stanford to two second place national finishes. Competing internationally, she captured the gold medal in both singles and doubles at the 1975 Pan American Games. She was also the 1975 national amateur singles and doubles champion. Forood was ranked as high as 30th on the women's professional tour, and she had an impressive victory over Wimbledon champion and second-seed Virginia Wade at the 1977 U.S. Open. At the 1976 U.S. Open, Forood teamed with Rachel Giscafre to reach the doubles semifinals.
Forood was a member of the Board of Women's Tennis Associates from 1979-1987 and served as its secretary-treasurer from 1983-87. She has been extremely active in promoting WTA events, and was the recipient of the prestigious WTA Player Service Award in 1983. After the tour and before coming back to Stanford, she promoted the first professional women's tour event in France from 1986-1988 at Strasbourg.
A San Francisco native who grew up in Mill Valley, New York and then Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Forood earned a degree in sociology from Stanford in 1978.