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Stanford's 4-3 win over Cal meant that Stanford is the 2 seed and Cal the 3 seed in this weekend's Pac-12 tournament in San Diego, setting up a rematch in the semifinals if seeds hold.

The bracket hasn't been officially announced, but this is what the standings (and using the basketball tiebreaker for the 5-5 teams) would indicate:

1. UCLA (10-0)
2. Stanford (8-2)
3. Cal (7-3)
4. ASU (6-4)
5. Oregon (5-5)
6. USC (5-5)
7. UW (5-5)
8. WSU (4-6)
9. CU (3-7)
10. Arizona (2-8)
11. Utah (0-10)

Here's the bracket, with regular-season matchup breakdowns and predictions for the outcome of each match. 

First Round:
Fri., Apr. 23 (times TBD)

(6) USC vs. (11) Utah 
(7) UW vs. (10) Arizona 
(8) WSU vs. (9) Colorado 

* USC won 7-0 in the regular season; doubles wasn't close and only two of the singles matches were competitive. USC wins this 4-0. 
* UW beat Arizona 4-3 at home in the regular season, and that's what I think happens here, though it could obviously go either way. For our purposes, we want the higher-ranked team to advance, so we can beat them (or have a less damaging upset loss). 
* CU won 4-3 at home in the regular season, but WSU is better and I think they play like it in the postseason. WSU advances. 

Quarterfinals:
Sat., Apr. 24 (times TBD)

(1) UCLA vs. (8) WSU
(4) ASU vs. (5) Oregon
(3) Cal vs. (6) USC
(2) Stanford vs. (7) UW

* UCLA won 6-1 but wasn't at full strength (Bolton was out). Two three-setters, but with UCLA at full strength, they win this handily. UCLA 4-0. 
* ASU beat Oregon 4-0 behind a tight doubles point but a shellacking in singles. They dominated every singles match and were up handily in the three that went unfinished. ASU advances here. 
* Cal beat USC 4-3 behind a tight doubles point, two dominating wins at 5 and 6, and an injury retirement on 3. Meanwhile, USC's Ewing crushed Cal's Giavara at 1 and got three-set wins on 2 and 4. This one will be very close, and I don't feel any confidence in a prediction, especially if USC is at full strength. 
* Stanford beat UW 6-1 behind a moderately close doubles point and dominating wins from Blake at 3, Geller at 4, and Higuchi at 6, with Choy winning in two close sets, Gordon adding a point with a three-set win, and Arbuthnott falling in three sets after a collapse in form in the second. Stanford advances, likely 4-0 with a few competitive matches still going. 

Semifinals:
Sun., Apr. 25 (times TBD)

(1) UCLA vs. (4) ASU
(2) Stanford vs. (3) Cal 

* Interestingly, UCLA only beat ASU 4-3. UCLA won doubles, but it was uncharacteristically tight. Bolton was still out, but still, singles was surprisingly close. UCLA got a routine win at 1 to make it 2-0, but ASU won handily at 5 for 2-1, won a competitive match at 3 for 2-2, won another close match for a 3-2 ASU lead, and what was left on court were two matches in third sets. Hart beat Hampton 6-4 at 2, and Goulak beat Jankowski 6-4 at 6. Absolutely razor thin margin. But that was in Tempe, and on a neutral court, I don't see this being as close. UCLA 4-1. 
* Stanford just won 4-3 at home behind an extremely close doubles point, dominating wins from Gordon at 1 and Blake at 2, and a routine win from Choy at 5. We needed that because Arbuthnott got run off the court at 3, Geller was disappointing at 4, and Higuchi gamely fought but was overmatched at 6. I'll say Stanford 4-2 this time around, but it'll be close. 
* If we advance and play USC, we won that one 6-1 behind another close doubles point, routine wins by Choy at 4 and Higuchi at 5 (Geller was out for this match, but so was USC's Cheong), but the other four singles matches went to third sets. Blake beat Cayetano 6-4 in the third to clinch, then Gordon lost a match tiebreaker before Arbuthnott won one and Houghton finished things out with a 7-5 win on 6. If Stanford plays USC and we're full strength, I think it's something like a 4-2 Stanford win where we need at least one third set to get it done. 
 
Final:
Mon., Apr. 26 (time TBD)

(1) UCLA vs. (2) Stanford 

* UCLA won 7-0 in Los Angeles. Doubles wasn't close. UCLA got dominating wins at 4 over Shin and at 6 over Higuchi. Choy lost a close one at 5 in a match tiebreaker, and Arbuthnott was surprisingly competitive against Bolton at 3. But Gordon and Blake both lost somewhat competitive matches (each lost one set 6-4 and the other 6-2, in different orders). UCLA was full strength, while we didn't have Geller, which matters. If it's Geller at 4, she doesn't get crushed like Shin does. If both teams are healthy, I'll say UCLA wins 4-2, but a 4-3 Stanford win is certainly possible. We need Gordon and Blake to deliver better performances on a neutral court, and Choy to flip her result. Does a different matchup at 4 or 6 give us another point? Maybe! UCLA is better but they're not 7-0 better and we could win. Maybe.

A note on postseason hosting. Due to Covid, the NCAA has announced 20 possible hosting sites for the first and second rounds in a departure from past practice where the top 16 seeds host. Thus, the NCAA is considering safety and security plans, covid testing spaces, hotel allocations, and budgets in awarding bids for early round host sites. 

Stanford is one of the 20 possible sites. The 16 sites selected will be finalized when the NCAA bracket is announced on May 3. Here are the 20 teams whose locations are in play, with the current computer ranking of the host institution noted. 

#1 UNC
#2 Texas
#3 Georgia
#4 Florida State
#5 N.C. State
#6 Pepperdine
#7 Northwestern
#8 UCLA
#9 LSU
#10 Ohio State
#11 UVA
#12 Baylor
#13 Florida
#14 Georgia Tech
#15 Tennessee
#16 Duke
#18 UCF (USTA National Campus in Orlando)
#20 Michigan
#25 Cal
#29 Stanford


Teams who are not being considered for hosting women's postseason rounds but whose ranking is above Stanford's and might normally be in the mix for postseason hosting duties:

#17 Texas A&M
#19 Ole Miss
#21 Auburn
#22 Vanderbilt
#23 Miami
#24 Oklahoma
#26 Kentucky
#27 South Carolina
#28 Texas Tech

Thus, Stanford could keep its postseason hosting streak alive, even if it doesn't end up in the top 16 in the rankings. But things are fluid, and the top 16 isn't out of the question, particularly if the NCAA defaults to using the ITA coaches' poll rather than the computer rankings. Stanford was #26 there and just beat #22 Cal. If some of the other teams from, say, #14 to #23 have middling conference tournaments while Stanford beats #45 Washington and #22 Cal again before a tight match against #6 UCLA? Seems like a top 16 team to me. So, I'll be watching other conference tournaments and hoping that no other hosting "bubble" teams pull off good upset wins. 

Can you imagine finishing in the top 16 but having to travel to Stanford to play a team ranked in the 20s on their home turf? Oof.
Looking at the 28 teams currently ranked ahead of Stanford, here's how it breaks down by conference:

SEC (10): UGA, LSU, Florida, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Ole Miss, Auburn, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, South Carolina
ACC (7): UNC, FSU, NC State, UVA, Georgia Tech, Duke, Miami
Big 12 (4): Texas, Baylor, Oklahoma, Texas Tech
Big Ten (3): Northwestern, Ohio State, Michigan

I mean, there's just no two ways about it: the Pac-12 is being punished for a limited schedule due to local covid restrictions. The idea that ten SEC schools are better than Stanford is laughable. And they know it's laughable. Heck, Vanderbilt is 13-8, including 5-8 in the SEC, they're the 10 seed in the SEC tournament, and somehow they're #22 in the country! Goodness gracious. 

But the coaches' poll isn't much better. (Neither poll takes the win over Cal into account yet, and I have a feeling we'll see a bigger boost from the coaches for that than we'll see from the computer rankings.) 

Playing on the road is always tough, but I wouldn't be at all surprised to see a team like USC or ASU as a 2 seed in a 4-team regional end up advancing to the final site. 

Anyway, the SEC tournament starts today with the 12/13 and 11/14 matchups. These matchups won't affect the top of the rankings, but tomorrow's matchups will. We want (2) Florida and (5) Tennessee to take upset losses, while those teams not in the mix for hosting ((3) TAMU, (6) Auburn, (7) South Carolina, (8) Ole Miss, (9) Kentucky, and (10) Vanderbilt) should feel free to pull off all the upsets they want.

The ACC tournament starts Wednesday, and we're rooting in particular against (4) UVA, (5) Duke, and (6) Georgia Tech, with the top 3 seeds of UNC, FSU, and NC State taking control. (7) Miami can feel free to pull off as many upsets as they can!

The Big 12 tournament starts Thursday, and we want (2) Baylor to take a loss, while (3) Texas Tech and (4) Oklahoma should feel free to run rampant. 

Big Ten tournament is next week, and (2) Michigan taking an upset loss would aid the cause as well. But the rest of the tennis world will have a week off before the bracket and host sites are announced--we'll all be waiting on the Big Ten.

We'll see two more sets of rankings: this Wednesday the 21st and next Wednesday the 28th, so we should climb a few spots this week and hopefully a few to several more the following week.
(04-19-2021, 01:07 PM)ColoradoTree Wrote: [ -> ]Looking at the 28 teams currently ranked ahead of Stanford, here's how it breaks down by conference:

SEC (10): UGA, LSU, Florida, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Ole Miss, Auburn, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, South Carolina
ACC (7): UNC, FSU, NC State, UVA, Georgia Tech, Duke, Miami
Big 12 (4): Texas, Baylor, Oklahoma, Texas Tech
Big Ten (3): Northwestern, Ohio State, Michigan

I mean, there's just no two ways about it: the Pac-12 is being punished for a limited schedule due to local covid restrictions. The idea that ten SEC schools are better than Stanford is laughable. And they know it's laughable. Heck, Vanderbilt is 13-8, including 5-8 in the SEC, they're the 10 seed in the SEC tournament, and somehow they're #22 in the country! Goodness gracious. 

But the coaches' poll isn't much better. (Neither poll takes the win over Cal into account yet, and I have a feeling we'll see a bigger boost from the coaches for that than we'll see from the computer rankings.) 

Playing on the road is always tough, but I wouldn't be at all surprised to see a team like USC or ASU as a 2 seed in a 4-team regional end up advancing to the final site. 

Anyway, the SEC tournament starts today with the 12/13 and 11/14 matchups. These matchups won't affect the top of the rankings, but tomorrow's matchups will. We want (2) Florida and (5) Tennessee to take upset losses, while those teams not in the mix for hosting ((3) TAMU, (6) Auburn, (7) South Carolina, (8) Ole Miss, (9) Kentucky, and (10) Vanderbilt) should feel free to pull off all the upsets they want.

The ACC tournament starts Wednesday, and we're rooting in particular against (4) UVA, (5) Duke, and (6) Georgia Tech, with the top 3 seeds of UNC, FSU, and NC State taking control. (7) Miami can feel free to pull off as many upsets as they can!

The Big 12 tournament starts Thursday, and we want (2) Baylor to take a loss, while (3) Texas Tech and (4) Oklahoma should feel free to run rampant. 

Big Ten tournament is next week, and (2) Michigan taking an upset loss would aid the cause as well. But the rest of the tennis world will have a week off before the bracket and host sites are announced--we'll all be waiting on the Big Ten.

We'll see two more sets of rankings: this Wednesday the 21st and next Wednesday the 28th, so we should climb a few spots this week and hopefully a few to several more the following week.

Ridiculous rankings--particularly those that favor SEC schools over Stanford/Pac 12 schools:

LSU currently ranks fourth nationally in women's golf.  Here's their starting lineup with world rankings following:
Linblad, 3
Stone, 77
Griffin, 145
Mulet, NR
Wallace, 428

Here is #22 Stanford:
Heck, 23
Ye, 25
Krauter, 35
Englemann, 112
Seay,  309; or
Wang, 226; or
Becht, 241; or
Reyes, 426
Yeah, there are a lot of good-but-not-great teams in the SEC and ACC. (Also a few great teams, don't get me wrong.) And because they are all perceived to be very good at the beginning of the season, a mixed bag of results in the conference when pretty good teams win some and lose some means that they all climb the rankings, because the penalty for losses to good teams is so low. The cycle just continues, and those presumptions get baked into rankings even deeper as the season goes on. 

Anyway, the bracket is now formally out with match times, and USC is the 5th seed rather than Oregon, as apparently ITA rankings was used as the second tiebreaker after head-to-head.

Tournament schedule

Friday, April 23: All first round matches are at 10:00am (the benefit of using a big outdoor facility with 20-some courts).

Saturday, April 24:
(1) UCLA vs. (8)/(9) winner: 9:00am
(4) ASU vs. (5) USC: 9:00 am
(3) Cal vs. (6) Oregon: 12:00pm
(2) Stanford vs. (7) Washington: 12:00pm

Sunday, April 25: both semifinals are at 12:00pm

Monday, April 26: final is at 12:00pm

Revised previews

With USC and Oregon swapping seed lines from what I'd assumed, here's what happened between ASU-USC and Cal-Oregon this season:

* Cal beat Oregon 4-3 in Eugene. After a competitive doubles point put Cal ahead 1-0, Oregon's Tjen wiped the floor with Cal's Giavara to level the match at 1-1. Anna Bright put Cal back up with a dominating win of her own, and Rosenqvist made it 3-1 with a solid win. Oregon's Kahfiani beat Cal's Bui at 3 in straight sets to make it 3-2, and Oregon's Eshet won a close one at 6 to tie it up. That left Cal's Viller Moeller to clinch the win with a 6-4, 7-6 win on Court 4 over Uxia Martinez Moral. I think Cal wins this one 4-2 or so. Competitive, but they have an edge.
* USC beat ASU 5-2 in Tempe. ASU got a very tight doubles point, and singles matches were pretty competitive (albeit in straight sets)--it's just the USC won five of them, only losing at 6. I tend to think USC largely repeats that there. USC 4-1. 

So, the semifinals should be an all-California affair, with UCLA likely rolling over USC again with another tight Stanford-Cal match.
Oh, and new rankings just came out today. Stanford moves up to #28 in the computer rankings, one spot behind Cal, and it moves up just one spot in the coaches' poll to #25, while Cal is T-23rd. Just won the head to head, but we're still behind. With the computer poll, I get it, but it's just jarring to see teams right next to each other in a poll with the head-to-head loser the line above the winner. 

Gordon is the only Stanford player in singles at #39, up two spots. No ranked doubles teams.
(04-21-2021, 11:21 AM)ColoradoTree Wrote: [ -> ]* Cal beat Oregon 4-3 in Eugene. After a competitive doubles point put Cal ahead 1-0, Oregon's Tjen wiped the floor with Cal's Giavara to level the match at 1-1. Anna Bright put Cal back up with a dominating win of her own, and Rosenqvist made it 3-1 with a solid win. Oregon's Kahfiani beat Cal's Bui at 3 in straight sets to make it 3-2, and Oregon's Eshet won a close one at 6 to tie it up. That left Cal's Viller Moeller to clinch the win with a 6-4, 7-6 win on Court 4 over Uxia Martinez Moral. I think Cal wins this one 4-2 or so. Competitive, but they have an edge.
As we know, Oregon can be dangerous.

BC
I wonder if part of Cal and Stanford being the mix for hosting is based on geographic considerations, or if it's as simple as "the better teams in the country tend to have the best facilities, which are better equipped for some of the covid precautions we're all taking." Also, while dual-hosting sites (hosting a men's and a women's regional) have been preferred in the past for cost savings and logistics, I would expect covid to lead to a preference for more early-round sites rather than fewer, and though the Stanford men won the regular-season Pac-12 title, they're ranked #23/#19 due to the severely limited schedule. 

Right now, you have several Pac-12/West Coast teams likely to make NCAAs:

Lock to host:
#5/#4 UCLA
#7/#6 Pepperdine

Locks to make tournament:
#27/#23 Cal
#28/#25 Stanford
#33/#30 Arizona State
#36/#33 USC

Bubble:

#44/#42 Washington
#47/#40 Oregon

With the likely NCAA cutline around 43, UW and Oregon need results this weekend (and obviously, we don't want UW to get an impressive win this tournament). It'll also be fascinating to see whether the NCAA defaults to the coaches poll, sticks with the computer rankings, or does a basketball-style debate of bubble teams to see who gets in. That 43 could dip down, too, if there are some upsets in one-bid leagues like the WCC, where San Diego is dangerous and could give Pepperdine a stiff challenge.
Or it could be as simple as Cal and Stanford being T23 and #25 in the latest coaches' poll. If one of those two teams wins the Pac-12 tournament, it's adding a win over UCLA and each other, and that might be enough to get them into the top 16 of the coaches' poll. 

But if you're say, the Texas A&M women, and you're ranked #12/#17, how brutal is it to know you won't be hosting the first rounds even though your ranking means you merit it? Either the school decided to push just one hosting bid for the men (ranked #8/#8), or the NCAA ruled them out. Imagine being on that team and having to go to Cal or Stanford to nominally be a #1 regional seed but having to play on the #2 seed's home courts. 

But ultimately, it's hard to imagine the NCAA picking a team ranked in the 20s to host over a team in the teens (provided both teams have bids in), so rankings will still matter. Looking just at the coaches' poll and the teams from #12 on down, here's who we could be likely to jump (teams likely/certain to drop due to tournament losses in italics, teams who are ineligible to host in strikethrough):

#12 UVA (4th seed in ACC, plays tomorrow against (5) Duke)
#13 Florida (just lost to South Carolina in its only SEC tournament match)
#14 Michigan (2nd seed in Big Ten, will play Northwestern in semis)
#15 Northwestern (3rd seed in Big Ten, will play Michigan in semis)
#16 Duke (5th seed in ACC, plays (12) Louisville today before (4) UVA tomorrow)
T17 Georgia Tech (6th seed in ACC, plays (14) Virginia Tech today before (3) N.C. State tomorrow)
T17 Texas A&M (3rd seed in SEC, beat #21 Auburn, plays #27 South Carolina today)
#19 Tennessee (5th seed in SEC, beat #39 Miss State, then upset #11 LSU, plays #3 UGA today)
#20 Miami (7th seed in ACC, plays (10) Notre Dame today and then #7 FSU tomorrow)
#21 Auburn (6th seed in SEC, beat #31 Arkansas, lost to #17 Texas A&M)
#22 Ole Miss (8th seed in SEC, lost to #28 Kentucky)
T23 Cal (3rd seed in Pac-12, to play #6 Oregon, then #25 Stanford)
T23 Vanderbilt (10th seed in SEC, lost to #27 South Carolina)
#25 Stanford (2nd seed in Pac-12, to play #42 UW, then #23 Cal and #4 UCLA if seeds hold)

So, what does that mean?

* Thank goodness South Carolina isn't in the mix to host, because after beating Vanderbilt and upsetting Florida, they could easily jump us in the final rankings. But even with Florida losing, hard to imagine them dropping more than a couple spots. 
* Tennessee did the absolute opposite of what we needed, pulling a big upset over LSU to cement its place in the rankings. That could be the end of our hosting hopes, as they'll be top 16 in the end. 
* If we beat UW and Cal but lose to UCLA, we should expect to climb over Cal, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, and Auburn. Depending on how ACC matches go, we might climb over Miami and Georgia Tech. And maybe the Michigan-Northwestern loser, too. But those are reaches. And we're clearly rooting for UVA over Duke. In order to get ourselves in the top 16 and remove all doubt, we need to beat UCLA, too. 
* If we beat Cal but not UCLA, a ranking around #21 or #22 seems likely, and with it, a trip to ACC/SEC country (or Ann Arbor or Evanston) for the first couple of rounds against the 11th or 12th ranked team in the country. LSU, UVA, maybe Michigan if they beat Northwestern. Someone of that caliber.
Livescoring at this link, in case you want to do a little scouting of our opponent tomorrow: https://livestream.com/accounts/2313864/...914/player

And another thought on SEC/ACC rankings, this time a more forgiving one. Part of it is that the bottom half of those two conferences (SEC more so than ACC these days) are filled with teams that are at least pretty good. Not amazing, not gonna win a title, but consistently pretty good and able to occasionally pull some upsets. We lack that in the Pac-12. Yes, CU beat Cal and Oregon beat us, but check their non-conference schedules--not a good win on there. 

Every team in the Pac-12 should be good enough to be Top 50. And they're just not. Hopefully the improvement we saw from Arizona this year is the start of something durable--we saw a lot more close matches, better coaching, and fight. Arizona should be a reliably good team. I think Colorado has the pieces in place to start being a regularly good team, too. Just need a bit better recruiting at both places. 

Basically, Stanford and UCLA should be perennial national title threats. USC should recruit well enough that they're in the teens every year, and so should Cal. ASU should be Top 25. Oregon, Washington, Arizona, and Colorado should all be in that 30-45 range just about every year where they're usually going to make NCAAs. (Maybe I should expect Wazzu there, too.) 

It remains absurd that so many good-but-not-great teams are ranked ahead of Stanford. But that's because those teams play, and beat up on, each other, with the cost of losing so low. Beating, say, Ole Miss or Kentucky moves the needle a modest amount. Beating Arizona or Utah doesn't move it at all. We need the bottom half of the conference to get reliably good, even if they don't ever get great.
* WSU beat CU 4-0, but CU was missing Nayar, so the whole lineup played up a line. 
* Oregon beat Utah 4-0, though Utah had grabbed one first set and pushed another match to a third set before the clinch happened.
* UW just beat Arizona 4-1, so that's who we'll be playing tomorrow.
Stanford took a tight doubles point, Arbuthnott lost quickly on Court 3, Choy added a quick win, and it’s 2-1 Stanford.

1. Gordon trails 6-7, 1-4
2. Blake trails 3-6, 4-5 (fought off some match points, though)
4. Geller leads 6-4, 5-2
6. Higuchi leads 6-3, 5-5

3-1 as Geller wins 6-4, 6-2, before Blake fights off a few more match points to level her set at 5-5! 

1. Gordon trails 6-7, 2-5
2. Blake trails 3-6, 5-5
6. Higuchi leads 6-3, 6-5 (it says Houghton, but the Stanford Twitter account says Higuchi, so I’m assuming it’s Higuchi)

Stanford 3, Washington 1

1. Gordon trails 6-7, 4-5 (avoiding the loss would be big for her NCAA singles qualification prospects)
2. Blake trails 3-6, 6-6
6. Higuchi leads 6-3, 6-6

Gordon is a good deal better than Wong, so this is certainly disappointing. Let’s just hope it’s not also costly. She’s won a couple games in a row now, so hopefully she can keep it going!

3-2 Stanford as Gordon falls 6-7, 4-6 with Higuchi up 6-2 in her tiebreaker. If she could’ve just held on for a few more points....

Blake is 3-3 in her second set tiebreaker. 

This is altogether too close for my liking. Arbuthnott’s loss is just ghastly. She’s lightyears better than Gallagher, and she was first off court!

Stanford wins 4-2 as Higuchi closes out her tiebreaker! 

We play Cal tomorrow, as Cal beat Oregon 4-1 in a match that was closer than the score line indicates.
OK, so forget most of that! Geller didn’t play, Choy played 4, Higuchi played 5, and it was indeed Houghton at 6! 

So, a little more understandable that we struggled to close them out. 

Arbuthnott still lost right away, but it was Higuchi who got our first win at 5, Choy who made it 3-1 with a 6-4, 6-2 win on Court 4, and Houghton who clinched at 6 moments after Gordon fell at 1. 

(The fun of having to rely on live scoring with no video to confirm!)

It makes our top three’s struggles all the more frustrating, because our bottom three had to play up a line and still did their thing. If this is the lineup against Cal, I would say it’s too close to call. (Cal’s Ivanov didn’t play yesterday either, though, so perhaps it’s a wash with Stanford still a slight favorite.)

Today, I think Gordon has to win—not just for the team, but to stay in the mix for NCAA singles.
Cal took doubles, and it wasn’t all that close.
We need four points from singles, but we’ve won just two first sets, though Higuchi leads Bright in her first. It’ll take a three-setter or two to win today.

1. Gordon trails 2-6, 1-2
2. Blake trails 2-6, 1-1
3. Arbuthnott leads 6-3, 0-1
4. Geller trails 2-6, 2-1
5. Choy leads 6-2, 0-0
6. Higuchi leads 5-4

Cal 2, Stanford 0

1. Gordon lost 2-6, 3-6
2. Blake trails 2-6, 4-3 (up a break)
3. Arbuthnott leads 6-3, 0-5
4. Geller trails 2-6, 5-4 (up a break) 
5. Choy leads 6-2, 2-3 (down a break)
6. Higuchi tied 6-6 (tied 4-4 in a tiebreaker that looms very, very large)

So where can our four points come from? Choy, probably, assuming she settles down here? My money would be on Higuchi if she pulls off this breaker. If we can keep things going in the right direction on 2 and 4, we'll have at least three third-set matches, including Arbuthnott's match at 3 that went sideways on her.
Cal 2, Stanford 0

2. Blake leads 2-6, 6-4, 1-0 (up a break)
3. Arbuthnott trails 6-3, 0-6, 1-2 (has lost eight straight games)
4. Geller trails 2-6, 6-4, 1-2 (on serve) 
5. Choy leads 6-2, 5-4 (on serve)
6. Higuchi trails 6-7, 1-2 (on serve)

* Geller seems to be finding her footing, though she couldn't convert a couple of game points to go up 2-0 in the third, and then Bui held at love.
* Choy is just four points away from her match, and Viller Moeller will serve to stay in it. Come on, Sara! Important to get that 0 off the board next to Stanford....
* Arbuthnott lost 8 straight games there before breaking to get back on serve in her third set. 

Obviously, you'd rather be in Cal's position right now. Two points away, you're up a set in one match, and if you get that, you just need one of the three matches currently in third sets.

Cal 2, Stanford 1

2. Blake leads 2-6, 6-4, 1-0
3. Arbuthnott tied 6-3, 0-6, 2-2
4. Geller trails 2-6, 6-4, 1-4
5. Choy won 6-2, 6-4
6. Higuchi trails 6-7, 1-3

* Choy broke on deciding point to take it! 
* Well, forget what I said about Geller finding her footing. Oof.
* Higuchi fading after that tiebreaker loss. Those can be so deflating, but unfortunately, we just can't afford that right now. If she doesn't turn it around, and soon, that'll be that. 
* Cal just needs 2 more games at 4 and 3 more games at 6 for a 4-1 win. Geller and Higuchi have to dig deep right now.

Cal 2, Stanford 1

2. Blake leads 2-6, 6-4, 2-1 (up a break)
3. Arbuthnott leads 6-3, 0-6, 4-2 
4. Geller trails 2-6, 6-4, 2-5 (Geller serving to stay alive)
6. Higuchi trails 6-7, 2-4 

* Big time turnaround for Arbuthnott
* Higuchi was serving 1-4, 0-40 and pulled off a big-time hold to stay in it
* Geller was 2 points from losing but fought back for a break
* Still running low on time, but Geller and Higuchi winning the most recent games keeps us alive for the moment....

Cal 3, Stanford 1

2. Blake tied 2-6, 6-4, 2-2 (no one wants to hold serve on this court, apparently)
3. Arbuthnott leads 6-3, 0-6, 4-3 (up a break)
4. Geller lost 2-6, 6-4, 2-6
6. Higuchi trails 6-7, 2-5

Three matches left, and we need 'em all. But Cal just needs one more game on 6....

Back against the wall, Emma Higuchi. Whaddya got?

Blake breaks for 3-2 in the third while Arbuthnott holds for 5-3. 

But Higuchi goes down 0-30....

Now 0-40....

Ugh. And that's that. A 4-1 loss to Cal.
Ugh. Disappointing match and season so far.
The men (regular season champs) also lost today in the semifinals. ASU won 4-3 in a 3rd set tiebreaker for the winning point.
Well, any hope of hosting died with that loss to Cal, so we'll be on the road. If travel considerations factor in, don't be surprised if we're the 2 seed at Pepperdine or UCLA rather than somewhere else across the country. 

Reminder: Stanford has never failed to host the first two rounds of NCAAs. Stanford has also never failed to reach the final site (traditionally 16 teams, was scheduled to just be 8 with a "super regional" round first last year, but not sure if that's happening this year).

In a full schedule year, we probably play enough good teams at National Indoors that we're a top 16 team. In past years where we've dropped a few Pac-12 matches, we still find our way into the top 16. I'm thinking of 2016, when we were 14-5 at the end of the regular season, lost to ASU and Cal in conference (plus to Pepperdine, Vanderbilt, and Ole Miss), and pulled off an absolute white-knuckle ride to a national championship (including four different NCAA matches by a 4-3 scoreline). But that's obviously not this year. But we're not so far off that, talent-wise and results-wise, at least. (Of course, we had Lampl and Lord holding down 5 and 6 as freshmen and just crushing people, and we had Taylor Davidson at 2, so even though we'd often lose doubles, we could usually get a win out of those three, and then one of Zhao at 1, Doyle at 3, or Hardebeck at 4 would take us over the top. In the five competitive postseason rounds that year, we only won the doubles point once, but Lampl and Lord each went 5-0 in singles, Davidson went 3-1, Hardebeck 2-2, Zhao 2-3, and Doyle 1-4. There was a clutch gene on that team, though, that this team doesn't have.)
Now I'm getting wistful remembering Davidson's 3-6, 7-5, 7-5 win to clinch the national championship. So gutty. Could barely move at the end due to cramps. 

We lost doubles and then we only won two first sets in that match, too. But in the four matches where we lost the first set, we pushed three of them to third sets and we won each of those three--Lampl, Lord, and then Davidson for the clincher.
Cal upset UCLA in the finals.




BC
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