Davidson delivers dramatic tennis victory for Stanford women


Taylor Davidson rose to the occasion once again. The Stanford junior won her first singles title of any kind last October at the USTA/ITA Northwest Regional, earning her a trip to New York.

Her latest victory sends the Cardinal women's tennis team to Tulsa, a much preferred destination for the team.

Davidson, who played at the top of the ladder when fellow junior Carol Zhao was out of the lineup, rallied from a first-set loss to beat Texas A&M's Rutuja Bhosale, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, and send Stanford into the Round of 16 with a 4-3 victory over the Aggies.

Davidson and double partner Caroline Doyle were the only ones to make the trip to New York. They enjoyed it, but are happier that this trip involves everybody on the team.

With Zhao testing her skills on the pro circuit earlier in the year, Davidson moved up a spot and produced a 4-5 record at No. 1 singles, matches against some of the top-ranked players in the country. The experience helped her persevere through a high three-set match against the Aggies.

No. 15 seed Stanford (16-5) meets top-ranked and second-seeded Florida (23-2) on Thursday at 11 a.m. The Cardinal beat the Gators, 4-0, at home earlier in the year, with Zhao able to participate. Florida has a pair of 4-0 wins under its belt thus far in the tournament.

Zhao dropped her match Saturday as the Aggies (17-11) rallied to tie at 3 and set the stage for Davidson's dramatic victory.

It looked good when Davidson jumped ahead ,4-0, in the third set, only to have Bhosale convert the next four games. Davidson then picked up a critical service break and held for the win, her second clincher of the season and the sixth of her career.

Stanford and Florida, two of the consistently great programs in the nation, have combined to win four of the last six NCAA championships.

The Cardinal came close to missing out on the opportunity for a trip to Tulsa. Texas A&M, looking to become the first nonconference opponent to win an NCAA match at Taube Family Tennis Stadium since Florida in the 2011 final, grabbed the doubles point for a 1-0 lead.

For the fourth time this season, Stanford defeated an opponent -- Florida, California and USC -- despite losing doubles.

Freshman Melissa Lord, who has quietly won five of six overall, continued her steady play at the No. 6 spot with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Eva Paalma to even the match at 1-1.

Playing her final match on The Farm, senior Krista Hardebeck made it count with a 6-2, 6-4 triumph over Ines Deheza at the No. 4 spot. One of the nation's hottest players, Hardebeck has won 19 of her last 20 matches.

Texas A&M knotted the match at 2-2 following Rachel Pierson's 6-4, 6-1 victory over Doyle at the No. 3 position but Caroline Lampl collected her team-leading 26th win to give Stanford a 3-2 lead, beating Domenica Gonzalez, 7-6 (4), 6-1, in a battle of freshmen on court five.

After losing a tough first set, Zhao fell further behind in the second before falling to Saska Gavrilovska 7-6 (9), 6-1.

The Pac-12 went 5-0 in the first round, but 2-3 in the second. Top-seeded California joins the Cardinal in Tulsa and will meet Texas Tech on Thursday.

— Palo Alto Online Sports/Stanford Athletics

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