May 19, 2002
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STANFORD, Calif. -
No. 2 Stanford University women's tennis (27-1) captured its second straight national championship on Sunday evening, notching a 4-1 victory over No. 1 Florida (24-2) at the Taube Tennis Center in the title match of the 2002 Women's Tennis Team Championships.
Stanford wins its 12th NCAA Team Championship in the 22-year history of the event, and fourth in the last six seasons. The victory was well earned for the third-seeded Cardinal, who had to sit through a rain delay of three hours and 10 minutes before competition started at 4:10 p.m. PST (match was originally scheduled for 1:00 p.m. PST). The Cardinal was able to claim the doubles point and three of four singles matches, ultimately assuring it would successfully defend last year's team title.
"This has just been an incredible season from start to finish," explained Stanford head coach Lele Forood. "We had the one blemish early on (4-3 loss to Georgia at the National Team Indoors on Feb. 9) and that's one that we would have liked to take back. Since then we've been able to get more experience and really come together as a team. I think being able to play at home was helpful; we received some great doubles play today and were equally solid in singles. Overall, just a tremendous victory for our team."
The Cardinal, which won the doubles point in nine of its final 10 matches, did so again on Sunday to take a 1-0 lead into singles play. Florida, ranked first in the nation and seeded third in the tournament, picked up a win at No. 2 as Alexis Gordon and Julia Scaringe downed Stanford's team of sophomore Lauren Barnikow (Woobridge, N.J.) and freshman Erin Burdette (Jackson, Ga.) 8-5. The No. 3 team for the Cardinal- senior Keiko Tokuda (Clifton, N.J.) and freshman Story Tweedie-Yates (Redmond, Wash.)- answered back with an 8-4 triumph over the Gator's Annika Bengtsson and Zerene Reyes. With each squad recording a victory, the doubles point would come down to the No. 1 spot featuring Stanford's top-ranked senior duo of Lauren Kalvaria (Indialantic, Fla.) and Gabriela Lastra (Reno, Nev.) and Florida's third-ranked team of Lindsay Dawaf and Jessica Lehnhoff.
When it was all said and done, Kalvaria and Lastra had registered an 8-6 victory to give Stanford a 1-0 edge and the momentum leading into singles.
"It's make-or-break at that point," said Kalvaria. "Having to come back after losing the doubles point is really tough. Our team really feeds off winning the doubles point."
Indeed. Florida knotted the match at 1-1 with a victory at the No. 3 spot, but Stanford stormed back to pick up wins at the bottom three spots of the lineup to secure the match.
The Gator's Reyes recorded a 6-0, 6-2 win over Barnikow to tie the match at 1-1. Stanford's Tokuda put the Cardinal back in front 2-1 with a 6-3, 6-1 victory at the No. 5 spot, downing Florida's Bengtsson. Moments later, sophomore Emilia Anderson (Cincinnati, Ohio) pieced together a straight-set victory of her own, topping Florida's Scaringe at No. 6 by a 6-4, 6-4 count.
With Stanford up 3-1 in the match, the Gators were looking to counter with victories at the Nos. 1 and 2 spots. Kalvaria and Lastra had both taken the first set of their respective matches before Florida's Lehnhoff and Dawaf were able to bounce back by claiming second set wins.
Kalvaria would later admit that while it was tempting to glance at the score, she could only control her match.
"It can be difficult because the scoreboard is right there in front of you," Kalvaria said. "Every once in a while your eyes will look up and catch something. You really just have to focus on your match and win your match."
And on the other side of the grandstand, that's exactly what Burdette was doing. The Cardinal freshman took the first set in a tiebreaker against her opponent at No. 4- Alexis Gordon- and raced out to a 5-2 lead in the second. With Gordon serving at 30-40, the two athletes exchanged shots before Burdette charged the net and angled a backhand volley away from Gordon into the opposite corner for the win. She was then mobbed by her teammates as the Cardinal clinched the 4-1 triumph.
"When I saw the girls on the team coming onto the court I knew we had finally done it," said Burdette. "I feel like all the hard work our team has put in this year has finally paid off."
The matches at Nos. 1 and 2 were abandoned. Lehnhoff was leading Kalvaria 2-6, 6-0, 4-2, while Lastra was ahead of Dawaf at 6-2, 5-7, 4-1.
Stanford 4, Florida 1
Doubles (Stanford wins point)
No. 1 - #1 Lauren Kalvaria/Gabriela Lastra (STAN) def. #3 Lindsay Dawaf/Jessica Lehnhoff (FLA) 8-6
No. 2 - Alexis Gordon/Julia Scaringe (FLA) def. #14 Lauren Barnikow/Erin Burdette (STAN) 8-5
No. 3 - Keiko Tokuda/Story Tweedie-Yates (STAN) d. Annika Bengtsson/Zerene Reyes (FLA) 8-4
Order of finish: #2, #3, #1
No. 1 - #4 Lauren Kalvaria (STAN) v. #1 Jessica Lehnhoff (FLA) abandoned (2-6, 6-0, 4-2 Florida)
No. 2 - #6 Gabriela Lastra (STAN) v. #18 Lindsay Dawaf (FLA) abandoned (6-2, 5-7, 4-1 Stanford)
No. 3 - #53 Zerene Reyes (FLA) def. #16 Lauren Barnikow (STAN) 6-0, 6-2
No. 4 - #13 Erin Burdette (STAN) def. #118 Alexis Gordon (FLA) 7-6, 6-2
No. 5 - Keiko Tokuda (STAN) def. Annika Bengtsson (FLA) 6-3, 6-1
No. 6 - Emilia Anderson (STAN) def. Julia Scaringe (FLA) 6-3, 6-4
Records - #2 Stanford 27-1, #1 Florida 24-2.
Individual and team rankings are courtesy of Omni Hotels and the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA).
MONDAY'S NCAA INDIVIDUAL CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE
10:00 a.m. --- Round of 64 singles @ Taube Tennis Center
11:30 a.m. --- Round of 64 singles @ Taube Tennis Center
1:30 p.m. --- Round of 64 singles @ Taube Tennis Center
3:00 p.m. --- Round of 64 singles @ Taube Tennis Center