May 23, 1998
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. - In arguably the most thrilling match of the 1998 Women's NCAA Tennis Championships thus far, Stanford's title defense and six-match NCAA Tournament winning streak came to an end in a 5-4 loss to No. 3 seed Duke today in the semifinals. It was Duke's first-ever win over the Cardinal in seven tries. Tied at 4-4, the match came down to a battle between two of the nation's top doubles teams as Duke's second-ranked tandem of Vanessa Webb and Karen Goldstein rallied for four unanswered points to defeat Stanford's 14th-ranked team of Teryn Ashley and Anne Kremer 8-6 to send the Blue Devils to the school's first NCAA championship match. With the loss, the Cardinal, which drop to 12-4 in NCAA Tournament semifinal play, end the 1997-98 campaign with a 26-2 overall mark. The loss was also just the second of the season against a ranked opponent in 23 matches and the first in nine matches against a Top 10 foe.
For the second consecutive day, senior Ania Bleszynski (Thousand Oaks, CA/Harvard-Westlake HS) put the Cardinal on the board early, defeating Karen Goldstein 6-2, 6-2 at the No. 4 position in just over one hour. With the win, her 32nd of the season (against seven losses), Bleszynski established a new career high in victories, surpassing her total of 31 in the 1995-96 season. Duke evened the match at 1-1 shortly after as Kathy Sell defeated the Cardinal's Sarah Pestieau 6-1, 6-4 at No. 5.
Stanford reclaimed the lead as senior captain Julie Scott (Austin, TX/Stephen F. Austin HS) rebounded from a straight-set loss yesterday to defeat Kristin Sanderson 6-2, 7-5 at the No. 2 slot to improve to 38-8 on the season. With a win in what became her last collegiate dual match, Scott moved into second all-time on Stanford's dual match win chart with her 93rd victory.
The tide began to turn in Duke's favor as the Blue Devils picked up rare wins by the opponent against Stanford's No. 3 and No. 5 players. At. No. 3, Stanford's Teryn Ashley (Chestnut Hill, MA/Brookline HS) dropped to 41-9 on the season in a straight-set loss to Megan Miller. At No. 5, Duke's Laura Zifer ended Cardinal Jennifer Heiser's 12-match winning streak with a come-from-behind 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 win. Heiser (Stockton, CA/Lincoln HS), who additionally had won 24 of her last 26 matches overall, ended her sophomore campaign with an impressive 34-6 record (25-3 dual match).
With Stanford down 3-2, all eyes turned to the final singles match which featured two of the nation's Top 10 players in Stanford's eighth-ranked Anne Kremer and #3 Vanessa Webb. Kremer evened the match at 3-3 heading into doubles with a come-from-behind 2-6, 6-1, 7-5 victory.
Doubles play started well for Stanford as the seventh-ranked team of Scott and Bleszysnki rolled to a quick 8-2 win over Miller and Sanderson at No. 2 doubles. With the win, Scott and Bleszysnki, improved to 27-7 on the season. Leading 4-3, the Cardinal need just one more point to move on to the championship. In a see-saw battle at No. 3, the Cardinal team of Heiser and Sarah Pestieau rallied from a 3-0 deficit to tie the match at 3-3 and eventually take the lead at 6-5. They would be unable to hold on however as Duke's Sell and Brooke Siebel ran off three unanswered points to take an 8-6 win and tie the match at 4-4.
1. #8 Anne Kremer (Stanford) d. #3 Vanessa Webb (Duke) 2-6, 6-1, 7-5
2. #7 Julie Scott (Stanford) d. Kristin Sanderson (Duke) 6-2, 7-5
3. Megan Miller (Duke) d. #17 Teryn Ashley (Stanford) 6-4, 7-6 (8)
4. #51 Ania Bleszynski (Stanford) d. Karen Goldstein (Duke) 6-2, 6-2
5. Kathy Sell (Duke) d. Sarah Pestieau (Stanford) 6-1, 6-4
6. Laura Zifer (Duke) d. Jennifer Heiser (Stanford) 4-6, 6-3, 6-2
1. #2 Goldstein/Webb (Duke) d. #14 Kremer/Ashley (Stanford) 8-6
2. #7 Scott/Bleszynski (Stanford) d. #55 Miller/Sanderson (Duke) 8-2
3. Sell/Brooke Siebel (Duke) d. Heiser/Pestieau (Stanford) 8-6