For the first time this season, Stanford allowed spectators to watch at Taube Tennis Center. Those fans witnessed heartbreak when No. 7 Pepperdine (12-2, 2-0 WCC) on Friday defeated an injured tennis team No. 25 Cardinal Ladies (10-1, 6-0 Pac-12) with a final score of 4-3.
Both freshman Ana Geller and junior Sara Choy struggled with leg cramps during their singles matches. While Geller had to stop trailing in the second set, Choy kept on playing. She was the last player to complete her game, and with a score of 3-3 in the game, a win of her would have kept the Cardinals’ undefeated season alive.
Choy traded the first two sets with Pepperdine’s Lisa Zaar, 6-4, 2-6 and took control at the start of the third set. Thanks to mistakes from Zaar, she jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the third set and almost secured a third game before Zaar corrected her mistakes and took the fight to Choy.
Faced with a deuce and the third set 2-2, Choy missed a shot past the baseline to let Zaar complete three unrequited game wins and take the lead.
In the next match, Choy and Zaar fell into a rally that came back more than 20 times as the twelve fans waited with bated breath. The rally ended when Choy sent a return to the net and helped Zaar with a 4-2 lead.
A trainer worked on the Stanford junior leg during a post-game medical timeout, and as the third set progressed, Choys’ cramps seemed to increase. At one point she collapsed on the field and limped between her return.
That didn’t stop her.
Choy went on to win four of the next six games to balance the third set 6-6, with the crowd getting louder and louder with each game. Despite the pressure and the injury, Choy managed to build a 6-2 lead in the tiebreaker, just one point away from the win. She didn’t run, she didn’t leave the ground to serve. She just returned the ball and she was winning.
Just when it seemed like Choy could do the impossible, Zaar started to fight back. She started to place the ball higher, where the five-foot Choy struggled to reach it, scoring six unanswered runs to put herself and the Waves on top.
Senior Michaela Gordon and fifth-year Emma Higuchi aided Choy’s monumental effort in direct wins on track one and six. Choy and Higuchi also came in to secure the point from the doubles set, but that was the victory the Cardinal would taste Friday afternoon as Geller’s retirement, in addition to the losses of Choy, fifth-year Emily Arbuthnott, and sophomore. Angelica Blake gave the Waves what they needed to return to Malibu with the victory.
The cardinal travels to Eugene on Sunday to take on Oregon (11-5, 4-3 Pac-12). According to a university spokesperson, it is too early to know whether Choy or Geller will be available for the competition.
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