Women's tennis wins 16th national title

In a dramatic 4-3 final match on Tuesday, the Stanford women's tennis team defeated the Florida Gators to capture the national championship, the program's first in four years.

Mallory Burdette, the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, rallied to defeat Florida senior Marit Boonstra 6-4, 6-7, 7-5 to clinch the victory. Burdette, a Jackson, Ga. native, watched Boonstra's final shot sail short and wide, only to be tackled to the ground seconds later by her sister, senior Lindsay Burdette.

The 2010 title is the 16th title in women's tennis history for the Cardinal, and the second national title for the Stanford sports program this season. This is the program's first title since 2006, and a whopping sixth in the last decade, as Coach Lele Forood's teams took home the 2001, 2002, and 2004-2006 titles.

This championship was an exciting one for the Cardinal, but the day started inauspiciously when Florida's No. 3 doubles team of Anastasia Revzina and Caroline Hitimana defeated Stanford's Carolyn McVeigh and Veronica Li to clinch the first point of the day, only the third time all season that the Card had failed to secure the doubles point.

The Cardinal rebounded quickly though, as Stacey Tan took down Revzina 6-2, 6-2 at No. 4 singles and Stanford's No. 2 Lindsay Burdette knocked off Allie Will, 6-3, 6-3. In the power struggle that was the No. 1 match, Florida's Lauren Embree, the No. 9 player in the country, outlasted Hilary Barte, the No. 4 player in the country, with a 6-4, 6-3 victory. With the match tied 2-2, Stanford's Veronica Li defeated Hitimana at the six slot and Florida's Joanna Mather defeated Carolyn McVeigh 5-7, 6-4, 6-0 at the five slot, notching the score at 3-3, leaving one final match to decide the national championship.

Burdette, playing in the No. 3 spot, took the first set 6-4, but dropped the second set 6-7(4), as Boonstra rallied to grab the momentum and extend the match. Boonstra carried that momentum to a 5-4 lead over the younger Burdette, but Burdette snagged the next three games to take home the 7-5 victory and the hardware. Burdette was then dogpiled by the entire team, who plowed over the fence next to the court to trigger the celebration. (Check out video of the tackle here.) The Cardinal had entered the tournament as the No. 8 national seed, but as the only one-loss team in the tournament, with the loss coming to UCLA back in February. The Card rolled through their first three matches, defeating both Fairfield and SMU in Palo Alto, then taking down No. 9 seed Clemson 4-0 in their first match in Athens. The Cardinal then drew No. 1 seed Baylor, who had eliminated Stanford in both 2008 and 2009, and was riding a 24-match win streak. However, the Cardinal dropped the Bears 4-2 to reach the semifinals, in a match Coach Lele Forood called "our biggest win in three years."

The Cardinal then beat No. 6 national seed Notre Dame, 4-1, to reach the finals against Florida, who had defeated North Carolina 4-0 to reach the title match. The Gators were the No. 3 national seed and the SEC champions, and were undefeated at the University of Georgia this season, after defeating Georgia and rolling through the SEC tournament in Athens.

Stanford and Florida are familiar foes, as they have met 11 times in the NCAA tournament, with the Cardinal holding a 9-2 advantage. Florida has won four national titles, and their most recent title came at the hands of the Card, when the Gators took home the 2003 title with a 4-3 victory in Gainesville.

Next up for the Stanford ladies will be the singles and doubles draw. Hilary Barte and Mallory Burdette both were included in the singles draw, and while Burdette was bounced in the second round by Miami's Laura Vallverdu, Barte, the No. 4 seed, is in the Round of 16 after knocking off Marshall's Michaela Kissell and Denver's Ute Schnoy. Barte will take on Ole Miss' Kristi Boxx on Friday.

The doubles team of Hilary Barte and Lindsay Burdette, the No. 2 seed, will take on Georgia Tech's Irinia Falconi and Sasha Krupina on Thursday.

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