Ellen Tsay got one final chance to play on her home court and she made the most of it, winning her match at No. 5 singles to help the 14th-ranked Stanford women's tennis team beat Pepperdine, 4-1, in the second round of the NCAA tournament Saturday.
"I think I've matured over the four years," Tsay said. "I'm not as nervous or afraid of losing. I go for more shots now."
Tsay's win put the Cardinal ahead, 3-1, leaving the clinching point to sophomore Carol Zhao at No. 1, who once again survived a hotly-contested match with Waves No. 1 Lorraine Guillermo, 7-5, 6-3. The two paired off in Stanford's regular-season win over Pepperdine. Guillermo is the lone senior on the Waves roster and one of two Americans.
"She really solidified this victory," Stanford coach Lele Forood said of Tsay. "She got the doubles win and her singles win. She's a great competitor and brings a professional attitude every day. She's never too high and she's never too low. She is composed and when she's on her game, she's usually winning."
The Cardinal advances to the Round of 16, which begins Friday at Baylor University's newly-refurbished Hurd Tennis Center in Waco. Stanford plays Pac-12 and Bay Area rival California, seeded third, in the next round.
"We know each other all too well," Forood said. "We have to find a way to be a little better than the first time around."
Cal beat Stanford (17-5) twice this year, 4-3 and 5-2.
"I'm looking forward to playing Cal again," Tsay said. "We lost to them both times we played but I really believe each player has the potential to win. It's a chance for revenge."
Stanford advanced to the NCAA round of 16 for the 30th consecutive season. The Bears won both meetings en route to the Pac-12 title, but the Cardinal has won nine of the last 13 meetings in the series, including a dramatic 4-3 victory in last year's NCAA round of 16.
Stanford, which captured the 2013 NCAA title as a No. 12 seed and won the 2010 NCAA championship as the No. 8 seed, has incredibly won nine of its last 10 postseason matches when seeded lower than its opponent.
"That starts with our decision not to go to the indoor championships and lose a week of school," Forood said. "It was a tough schedule and this year we couldn't get the wins. It is what it is."
The Cardinal locked up the doubles point for a 1-0 lead, highlighted by an 8-2 victory at the top spot from Taylor Davidson and Zhao.
Krista Hardebeck continued her strong recent play with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Apichaya Runglerdkriangkrai at the No. 4 position, extending Stanford's lead to 2-0.
After Pepperdine collected its lone point on court six, Tsay swung the momentum back to the Cardinal with a 6-4, 6-1 triumph at the No. 5 spot in her final home match.
No. 23 Stanford dropped a 4-1 decision to No. 10 Duke on Saturday afternoon in the second round of the NCAA Championships in Durham, N.C.
Making its 36th all-time NCAA Tournament appearance, Stanford (18-7, 6-1 Pac-12) enjoyed one of its best seasons in recent memory while displaying continued progress throughout the season. Showcasing a lineup that featured three freshmen, the Cardinal notched its first postseason victory since 2012 and clinched a share of the Pac-12 regular-season championship for the first time since 2010. Stanford also reached the Pac-12 Tournament for the first time in school history.
An area of strength all season long, Stanford captured the doubles point for the 21st time in 25 matches. However, the Cardinal was unable to keep pace with Duke (24-6, 8-4 ACC) in singles competition.
Stanford jumped out to a 1-0 lead by earning a hard-fought doubles point. The Cardinal posted an 8-7 (3) victory from John Morrissey and Robert Stineman at the No. 1 spot, followed by an 8-6 triumph from Tom Fawcett and Maciek Romanowicz at the No. 2 position.
Duke then evened the match at 1-1 following a 6-4, 6-0 win from Nicolas Alvarez over Tom Fawcett at the top spot of the lineup.
The Blue Devils tacked on a few straight-set victories, increasing their lead to 3-1.
Bruno Semenzato snapped David Hsu's 11-match winning streak with a 6-2, 6-3 win at No. 4 followed by Raphael Hemmeler's 6-4, 6-4 victory over David Wilczynski at the No. 3 position.
The clincher came from court six, where TJ Pura defeated Nolan Paige 5-7, 6-4, 6-3.
Both remaining matches on courts two and five were already into a third set but abandoned.
Stanford's 18 victories under first-year head coach Paul Goldstein were its most since a 20-9 finish in 2012.