Fresh off its 18th national championship (17 NCAA, 1 AIAW), the Stanford women's tennis team appears well-positioned to defend its title next season and continue its dominance as the sport's top program.
The Cardinal's three-member recruiting class is ranked No. 1 in the nation, according to spring rankings from TennisRecruiting.net through the month of June.
Arriving on The Farm next fall is the stellar trio of Taylor Davidson (Statesville, N.C.), Caroline Doyle (San Francisco) and Carol Zhao (Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada).
The group totaled 468 points from TennisRecruiting.net's media poll, comprised of panelists covering junior tennis throughout the country. Schools received 25 points for each first-place vote, 24 point for each second-place vote, on down to one point for each 25th-place vote. Trailing behind are No. 2 North Carolina (452 points) and No. 3 Northwestern (405).
Stanford's lineup will look different next year, with the early departure of junior Nicole Gibbs (turned professional) and losses of seniors Natalie Dillon and Stacey Tan to graduation. But the Cardinal returns key regulars Kristie Ahn, Krista Hardebeck and Ellen Tsay, along with the arrival of its seventh consecutive top-10 recruiting class and first group to be ranked No. 1 in the country since 2009.
Davidson and Doyle check in as top-five fixtures in the recruiting rankings, compiling numerous wins in national championship and ITF tournaments. Davidson posted a 4-0 record at last summer's National Team Championships, while Doyle reached the Round of 16 in the 2012 US Open Juniors. Zhao, Canada's top player who captured this year's Australian Open junior doubles title, is ranked No. 15 in the ITF juniors with four wins in 2012 grand slam events.
The most storied program in college tennis, Stanford defeated No. 3 Texas A&M in a 4-3 thriller to capture the 2013 NCAA crown. No. 12 Stanford (22-4, 8-2 Pac-12) became the lowest-seeded team to win an NCAA title, also knocking off No. 5 USC, No. 4 Georgia and No. 1 Florida along the way. The championship also extended Stanford's record streak of 37 years in a row with at least one NCAA title and paved the way for a 19th consecutive Directors' Cup.
Stanford's upset of Texas A&M was clinched by Ahn, whose three-set win at the No. 2 position capped an emotional five-day stretch of heart-stopping comebacks and dramatic moments.
However, there was more hardware to be claimed on the individual side, highlighted by Gibbs defeating Nebraska's Mary Weatherholt, 6-2, 6-4, to become the first repeat NCAA singles champion since former Cardinal standout Amber Liu (2003-04).
Gibbs, who won all six of her NCAA singles contests in straight sets and improved her career record in May to 30-1 overall, became Stanford's 16th all-time collegiate singles champion (14 NCAA, 2 AIAW) and the first player to capture the NCAA team and singles title in the same year since Duke's Mallory Cecil (2009) in College Station, Texas.