Sports

NCAA champ Stanford opens as No. 1 women's team

The reigning champion Stanford women's tennis team will head into the new year ranked No. 1 in the country in the ITA Division I Team Rankings, as released last week by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.

Stanford clipped Texas A&M, 4-3, to win its 17th NCAA title last spring and the team will look to continue its success this season although the Cardinal will need to replace its top player, Nicole Gibbs, who turned pro prior to the start of the 2013-2014 season.

Senior Kristie Ahn (No. 6) leads the Cardinal and is joined in the lineup by a trio of ranked freshmen -- Caroline Doyle (No. 34), Carol Zhao (No. 40), and Taylor Davidson (No. 41).

In doubles, Stanford has the No. 15 team of Ahn and Zhao plus the No. 16 tandem of Ellen Tsay and Davidson.

The Florida women's team is No. 2 in the team rankings, as the Gators' two-year NCAA Championship reign ended in 2013 in the semifinals against Stanford. Though they've lost 2013 ITA Player of the Year Lauren Embree, the Gators boast four players in the ITA Top 30.

On the men's side, defending champion Virginia claimed the No. 1 spot. The Cavaliers fought off a team match point against UCLA in the 2013 NCAA Men's Team Championship, capturing its first team title in the 67th year of the tournament.

Stanford, which opens its 2014 on Tuesday by hosting Pacific at 1:30 p.m., was ranked No. 41 but will move up quickly after being inactive for most of the fall.

— Palo Alto Online Sports

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