Stanford seniors will leave without a championship ring
Publication Date: Friday May 24, 1996

Stanford seniors will leave without a championship ring

Cardinal women's tennis team settles for second in NCAA championships

Amy Chiminello, Beth Berris, Kim Shasby and Wendy Sacks will leave Stanford in a few weeks with plenty of memories and loads of athletic accomplishments.

One thing they won't take with them, however, is an NCAA championship ring in tennis.

The Cardinal quartet is unique in that sense. For the first time in more than 20 years, a group of graduating seniors went four years without winning a women's NCAA tennis crown. It certainly wasn't from a lack of trying, however.

During their careers--Shasby redshirted in '92 and Chiminello in '94--the foursome helped Stanford compile a record of 119-14. Three times the Cardinal reached the NCAA final, only to come up short each time.

The most recent miss came Tuesday, when Stanford's bid for its first NCAA title since 1991 was ended by unbeaten Florida, 5-2, in Tallahassee. Fla.

"They are disappointed that they lost," Stanford coach Frank Brennan said of his players, "but you just don't win these things because you want to. Our team played very well, and I have no regrets. Florida was a better team than we were, but we gave it a good try."

Stanford did want to end its drought in the worst way. After capturing six straight NCAA crowns from 1986-91, the Cardinal has watched Florida and Texas win twice and Georgia once.

Brennan thought this year would be different, especially after his team breezed through the Pac-10 Southern Division season with a 10-0 record, then easily dispatched NCAA opponents. In the semifinals Monday, Stanford eliminated third-ranked Duke, 5-2.

That set up Tuesday's match between the No. 1 Gators and No. 2 Cardinal, a repeat of the National Indoor Team Championships earlier this season when the Gators prevailed, 5-2, in the title match.

"This is my second time losing in the finals," said Stanford junior Katie Schlukebir. "It's disappointing, but at the same time, every other team would have loved to have been where we were today."

Stanford came into the title match riding a 15-match winning streak and hoping to prevent Florida from finishing the season 31-0. Despite having the experience of being in the finals--this was the Cardinal's 11 appearance in 15 years--the Gators proved too tough.

"They (Florida) are a very good team," Brennan said. "I have a lot of respect for them. After indoors, I thought they were good. Now I think they're very good."

While Stanford loses a solid group of seniors--Berris, Chiminello, Shasby and Sacks--the team does return sophomore Ania Bleszynski, junior Emily Burt, junior Sandra De Silva, junior Katie Schlukebir, sophomore Julie Scott, sophomore Heidi Stalla and sophomore Sophy Woodhouse.

Schlukebir, Bleszynski, Scott and De Silva bounced back from Tuesday's tough loss to Florida and won their opening matches at the NCAA individual tournament.

Schlukebir ousted Michelle O of William & Mary, 6-4, 6-2; Scott gained a bit of revenge by eliminating Florida's Lisa Pugliese, 7-6 (7-3), 6-2; De Silva advanced with a 7-6 (9-7), 6-4 win over Bali Camino of Alabama; and Bleszynski took care of Nicole Strnadova of Syracuse, 6-3, 7-6 (7-1).

The individual tournament concludes Sunday.

--Keith Peters 

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