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May 26, 2004

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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Wednesday, May 26, 2004
NCAA WOMEN'S TENNIS

Stanford wins 13th Stanford wins 13th (May 26, 2004)national crown and finishes 29-0

by Keith Peters

ITf Lele Forood was a college basketball coach, she'd be No. 1 on the must-hire list. In four seasons, Forood has three NCAA titles and a remarkable record of 111-3 that includes two undefeated seasons. It just doesn't get much better than that.

Forood guided her Stanford women's tennis team to its third national crown in four seasons on Sunday, a 4-1 victory over UCLA at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga.

The NCAA title is Stanford's 13th and capped a 29-0 season. The win over UCLA was the Cardinal's fourth of the year. The crown is Stanford's first since 2002. The Cardinal fell to Florida in the 2003 finale, 4-3.

"Last year made you realize how special it is to win it," said Stanford senior Lauren Barnikow. "We had to wait two whole years to win it again. That makes you really, really appreciate it."

Barnikow lost the final dual match of her career to finish this season 25-1. Still, the team win meant much more - especially since Stanford and UCLA had played each other so much in 2004.

"When you play a team for the fourth time in a year, you know each other pretty well," Forood said of facing the Bruins again. "We knew each match would be a grind and it was a tight match all the way, but everyone stepped up and played very well."

Stanford, which led 3-0 at one point Sunday, fell short in its bid to become the first team, men or women, to win the NCAA championship without yielding a team point since the NCAA tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1999. The Cardinal posted five shutouts en route to the final and out-scored six opponents 24-1 during its championship run.

Against UCLA, Stanford won the all-important doubles point, then got wins in singles from junior Alice Barnes, freshman Theresa Logar and junior Erin Burdette, who grew up about 90 miles south of Athens in Jackson, Ga. She won the clinching match at No. 3 singles, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3, over Feriel Esseghir.

Burdette, who delivered championship point with an overhead smash, also won the clinching match in 2002 against Florida -- the last time Stanford won the national title.

"It's a fairy tale ending to come home and play in front of family and friends," said Burdette. "I didn't play my best, but was able to pull through and get it done."

Logar, who went 27-0 in dual matches this season to tie three other former Stanford players for No. 3 on the school's all-time list for single-season victories, beat Lauren Fisher 6-4, 6-3 at No. 5 singles. Barnes, who went 3-0 this week and was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, topped Jackie Carleton 6-2, 6-1 at No. 2.

UCLA's Sarah Gregg provided the lone win for the Bruins, 6-3, 6-3, over Barnikow at No. 4. Barnikow finished her career with an 84-14 dual-match record.

Second-seeded Stanford was playing in its sixth straight final, winning for the fourth time since 1999. Stanford's 13 national titles are a record, nine more than next-best Florida's four.

The Cardinal has also appeared in 18 of the 23 NCAA finals. UCLA, the No. 9 seed, was playing in its first final since it lost to Stanford in 1991 (when coach Stella Sampras Webster was a senior for the Bruins). UCLA (21-8) has now lost to the Cardinal in all four of its final appearances. The '91 match was also the last time two schools from the same conference faced each other in the final.

Stanford's path to the finals was made easier when defending national champion Florida was upset by Miami, 4-3, in the second round.

Forood's four-year record of 111-3 matches that of former coach Frank Brennan during the 1988-91 seasons. Brennan, however, won four straight NCAA titles during that time. Forood's 30-0 mark in 2001, however, is the best in school history while her 29-0 mark this season equals Brennan's back-to-back campaigns in 1989 and '90.


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