Sports

Davidson, Doyle heading to the Big Apple for tennis tournament

 

Taylor Davidson has enjoyed a successful career playing tennis at Stanford. The junior won 29 matches last year, including an 18-3 record in dual matches, mostly from the No. 2 singles slot.

She's participated in the NCAA Final Four, winning several key matches to help the Cardinal advance that far. Until Tuesday, Davidson had never won a tournament title.

Davidson made up for it by winning a pair of titles, beating Fresno State's Mayar Ahmed, 7-5, 2-6, 6-1, to win the USTA/ITA Northwest Regional Championships singles title, and then partnering with Caroline Doyle to win the doubles title, 7-6 (5), 6-3, over California's Klara Fabikova and Olivia Hauger at the Taube Family Tennis Center.

"It feels amazing," Davidson said. "There are no words to describe it. I wasn't playing well in the first two sets and I knew if I wanted to take it I had to step up."

Davidson and Doyle, who lost to Ahmed in Monday's semifinal round, earned trips to the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y., which begins Nov. 12.

"It's very prestigious to win the Northwest Regional Championship," Cardinal coach Lele Forood said. "Anyone who has ever done anything here has won this tournament."

Davidson extended Stanford's winning streak at the event to six years, becoming the fifth different Cardinal to win over that span, joining Carol Zhao, Kristie Ahn (who won it twice), Krista Hardebeck and Nicole Gibbs.

Zhao beat Davidson, her doubles partner, in last year's singles championship match. Zhao is taking the fall season off.

"I've never played in New York," said Davidson, who grew up in North Carolina. "The whole thing is mind blowing."

Compiling a 55-17 overall record through her first two seasons, Davidson was tested for the first time in tournament play, having won all of her previous matches in straight sets while not allowing more than four games in any set. She has also won her last six three-setters, dating to May of 2014.

"It tells you she's in good physical shape," Forood said. "It's been a long weekend and she's played a lot of matches. It's very important because this sets the tone for the year."

Ahmed raced out to a 3-0 lead in the first set, before Davidson won the next five games. Tied at 5-5, Davidson gained the early advantage. Ahmed responded with a 6-2 victory in the second frame, but Davidson controlled play in the third.

"Playing my teammates is as good as it gets," Davidson said. "Whatever I encounter on the court, I've seen it many times in practice. My teammates are my toughest competitors and my biggest supporters."

Davidson and Doyle approached Forood about playing doubles for the tournament. This was their first tournament together.

"We practiced a day and a half," Davidson said.

Forood tends to mix things up before the spring season, and so agreed they could pair up. It could make things interesting when the regular season rolls around.

The Golden Bears' doubles team also was playing together for the first time and may wind up in New York along with Davidson and Doyle, depending on the at-large berth.

"The whole match was fantastic," Cal coach Amanda Augustus said. "There was high quality doubles play from all four players. There were tremendous rallies, with poaching, overheads and two teams battling with each other. But we just came up a couple points short."

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