STANFORD, Calif.- Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: Krista Hardebeck clinched a Stanford win against Florida.
Just like she did last May in the NCAA semifinals, Hardebeck provided the Cardinal’s clinching point again on Sunday afternoon at Taube Family Tennis Stadium.
Then again, that feat could have been accomplished by any Cardinal player who took the court during No. 3 Stanford’s dominant 7-0 shutout of No. 5 Florida. Upperclassmen Kristie Ahn and Ellen Tsay battled their way to victories while Stanford’s talented freshmen all posted straight-set wins.
Sunday’s result was an uncharacteristic outcome in the hotly-contested rivalry, with Stanford (7-0) and Florida (8-2) combining to win the last four NCAA titles. Instead, edge-of-your-seat thrillers and dramatic individual performances have been the norm, with the defending NCAA champion Cardinal winning five of the last seven meetings overall.
This time around, it was all Stanford, which registered its fourth shutout of the year. And while February matches often mean very little when the postseason rolls around in May, this was another early measuring stick for the youthful Cardinal, which boasts three rookies among its starting six in singles and doubles.
Capturing the doubles point for the seventh time this year, the Cardinal seized a quick 1-0 lead in the match. After Caroline Doyle and Hardebeck cruised to an 8-1 victory on court three, Stanford’s top duo of Kristie Ahn and Carol Zhao pulled away for an 8-5 win.
Stanford promptly extended its lead to 3-0 with Zhao and Taylor Davidson both picking up their 14th win of the year. Zhao breezed past Brianna Morgan 6-1, 6-3 at the No. 3 spot, shortly before Davidson made quick work of Sofie Oyen in a 6-2, 6-2 triumph at the No. 4 position.
Just like that, the Cardinal was in complete control with first sets already booked on three of the remaining four courts.
Hardebeck followed with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Alexandra Cercone. It was a rematch of last year’s deciding contest in the NCAA semifinals, also won by Hardebeck in a 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 6-3 victory that fueled Stanford’s NCAA title run.
Next door at the No. 1 spot, Ahn came through with a 6-2, 7-5 win over Olivia Janowicz. Trailing for much of the second set, Ahn won the final three games to ensure she would not suffer back-to-back losses for the first time in her career after dropping a 6-4, 7-6 (7) decision on Thursday against Saint Mary’s.
Leading 5-0, Tsay and Doyle were locked in tight matches on the back courts.
In a battle of freshmen at the No. 6 spot, Doyle prevailed for her 16th win of the season, defeating Kourtney Keegan 6-3, 7-6 (8).
Tsay completed the shutout, outlasting Belinda Woolcock 6-7 (5), 6-4, 1-0 (4) on court five.
Stanford returns to action on Saturday, March 1, visiting California at 1 p.m. in a non-counting Pac-12 match.
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No. 3 Stanford 7, No. 5 Florida 0
1) No. 17 Ahn/Zhao (STAN) d. No. 14 Oyen/Woolcock (FLA) 8-5
2) No. 30 Davidson/Tsay (STAN) vs. Morgan/Keegan (FLA) 6-6, abandoned
3) Doyle/Hardebeck (STAN) d. Janowicz/Stojic (FLA) 8-1
Order of Finish: 3, 1
1) No. 5 Kristie Ahn (STAN) d. No. 11 Olivia Janowicz (FLA) 6-2, 7-5
2) Krista Hardebeck (STAN) d. No. 29 Alexandra Cercone (FLA) 6-1, 6-4
3) No. 51 Carol Zhao (STAN) d. No. 14 Brianna Morgan (FLA) 6-1, 6-3
4) No. 25 Taylor Davidson (STAN) d. No. 31 Sofie Oyen (FLA) 6-2, 6-2
5) No. 32 Ellen Tsay (STAN) d. No. 38 Belinda Woolcock (FLA) 6-7 (5), 6-4, 1-0 (4)
6) No. 49 Caroline Doyle (STAN) d. No. 34 Kourtney Keegan (FLA) 6-3, 7-6 (8)
Order of Finish: 3, 4, 2, 1, 6, 5
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Stanford Head Coach Lele Forood
“This was just a great team win for us. It started in doubles. We had been struggling a bit at the three, so for them to come out and win 8-1, it made the right statement that we are all ready to come to the party now. I think that was really big. The doubles set a nice tone, although I don’t think it would have been critical had we not won it. We are a young team that has been finding ourselves, moving the lineup around a bit and just trying to find out where we need to be. This was an impressive showing. Everyone really wanted their match. Florida has very good players up and down the lineup, and they are a little young too, just like we are.”
“I was impressed with everyone. That might be the first time Carol has been first off the court. For Krista, to win in straight sets against an opponent she had an epic battle with last year. Kristie had a great performance at No. 1. It’s always an absolute war against (Sofie) Oyen, so I thought that was a good win for Taylor. With the match decided, Ellen was able to pull it out. You can let down in that situation unless you have a lot of personal pride. That’s what we did on courts five and six.”
“Everyone came out here and gave it their all today. We have all been really excited to play Florida and obviously they are the biggest team we have faced all year. It was especially great for the freshmen to experience such a big match and see how excited they were. It’s nice to get easier wins but also important to get a taste of what it’s like against a really top team. I thought the energy was really high today.”
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NOTES: Stanford improved to 19-13 all-time against Florida … Kristie Ahn and Krista Hardebeck improved to 4-2 in their career against Florida … The Cardinal has won the doubles point in five of the last seven matches against the Gators … In last year’s NCAA semifinal, Olivia Janowicz played at No. 5 singles and Brianna Morgan at No. 4 … Kristie Ahn has won a team-best 18 matches … Taylor Davidson and Carol Zhao are both riding seven-match winning streaks … With road victories against No. 17 Texas and No. 22 Rice, Stanford has already knocked off three top-25 opponents … Head coach Lele Forood improved to 337-23 in her 14th year at the helm.