May 30, 2011
STANFORD, Calif.- Sophomore Stacey Tan's improbable singles run at the 2011 NCAA Tennis Championships came to an end on Monday afternoon, falling to California's Jana Juricova 6-0, 7-6 (2) in the title match at the Taube Family Tennis Stadium.
Only the 10th unseeded player to appear in an NCAA singles final, Tan was attempting to capture the title on her home court just like Georgia's Chelsey Gullickson in 2010.
Ranked No. 43 nationally, Tan also held the distinction of being the lowest-ranked player to reach an NCAA singles final since 1998, when No. 51 Ania Bleszynski of Stanford lost to Duke's Vanessa Webb 6-3, 6-4.
Standing in Tan's way on Monday was Juricova, the nation's No. 1-ranked player, No. 1 overall seed in the postseason draw and 2010 NCAA singles runner-up.
Juricova raced out to a 6-0 victory in the first set, relying on her experience to set aside any early nerves. From that point on, it appeared Juricova would coast to a easy victory.
However, Tan had been in this position before. The Lakewood, Calif., native had dropped the first set before rallying to win in three previous tournament matches. An 11-2 record in three-set matches this year added further confidence.
Sure enough in the second set, Tan grabbed leads of 1-0 and 2-1 only to see Juricova even the score both times. Trailing 3-2, Tan broke Juricova and then held serve to reclaim a 4-3 advantage. Juricova relied on her serve to tie the match at 4-4 before Tan responded with another game to take a 5-4 lead.
Juricova booked the next two games before Tan registered another break and force a tiebreaker at 6-6. That's when Juricova bolted out to a 5-0 lead, eventually closing the tiebreaker out at 7-2 for the victory.
Nevertheless, the result was quite an accomplishment for Tan, who played 17 of her 23 dual matches this year at the No. 5 spot in Stanford's stacked singles lineup. Riding an eight-match winning streak heading into Monday's final, Tan closed out the season at 32-10 overall and 13-3 against nationally-ranked opponents.
First Round: No. 43 Stacey Tan d. No. 11 Josipa Bek (Clemson) 2-0, ret.
Second Round: No. 43 Stacey Tan d. No. 28 Sanaa Bhambri (NC State) 5-7, 6-3, 6-1
Round of 16: No. 43 Stacey Tan d. No. 21 Aeriel Ellis (Texas) 6-4, 7-6 (6)
Quarterfinals: No. 43 Stacey Tan d. No. 49 Nina Secerbegovic (Baylor) 5-7, 6-1, 6-4
Semifinals: No. 43 Stacey Tan d. No. 17 Lauren Embree (Florida) 5-7, 6-3, ret.
Championship: No. 1 Jana Juricova (California) d. No. 43 Stacey Tan 6-0, 7-6 (2)
"I feel like in the first set I had all the nerves inside of me and I was really tight playing in the finals. It got into my head a little bit and I wasn't able to go out and hit my shots, play my game. After the first set, I figured that this was the last match and I might as well do my best and do everything I can to try to come back and at least put up a good fight. So I think that's the biggest difference between the first and second sets."
"I feel like she has a really powerful game, she has strong shots and especially her serve, but at the same time she can be really consistent and knows how to reset points pretty well."
"I feel like the beginning, especially the first set, I was having a bit of trouble. I'd say the players that I was facing in the rounds before weren't as strong of servers. I started to get use to her serve more as the match went on and it did help a lot."
"It's been a long week. Each match is really tough. It's just tiring and exhausting and taking it one day at a time really does help, especially knowing that you put 100 percent of what you have out there every day, doing what you can to recover from the match and getting ready for the next day."
"I knew I had a chance and I always try to finish in two sets if I can, so I decided to really go for it. I knew that's my best shot if I really take the time away from her and not let her do the things she needs to. I really decided to do it and I think that's why the tiebreaker went so well for me."
"It's always nice to have people cheering for you. I have my parents here so they're really supportive, too. All the fans who came, my teammates and all the Bears, all the past Bears, it was really fun to have them around and hear them when I was playing."
"I think it was a great experience to have from last year and I think I learned a lot from that match. Then again, we played so many matches at Stanford and I played so many matches on court one, so it doesn't really feel like I'm playing away. I kind of like their courts and I think that especially because of the fans, I kind of feel like I'm playing at home too."
"I think after the first set she had nothing to lose and I kind of expected that. I was able to play my game still and it was about who's going to strike first and who's going to take the time away from the other person. That's what I was trying to do the whole second set. I need to really just trust my game and stay aggressive."