Pepperdine fell narrowly short in its bid for its first NCAA women’s tennis championship, losing 4-3 to Texas Saturday in the final at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Florida.
The Waves tied the match, 3-3, when Nikki Redelijk defeated fellow freshman Malaika Rapolu, 6-4, 7-5, at No. 6 singles.
Longhorns freshman Lulu Sun was serving for the match at No. 3 singles, but Pepperdine freshman Taisiya Pachkaleva, broke her serve, then held serve, tying the third set, 5-5.
Sun then held serve and broke Pachkaleva’s serve to complete the 6-4, 6-7 (3), 7-5 victory that gave second-seeded Texas (31-1) its third NCAA women’s tennis championship and first 1995. The Longhorns also won the 1993 championship.
The fifth-seeded Waves (25-4) had never advanced past the quarterfinals before this year. They defeated fourth-seeded UCLA, 4-3, in a quarterfinal Wednesday, and top-seeded North Carolina, 4-3, in a semifinal Friday, ending the Tar Heels’ 48-match winning streak.
“This team was absolutely incredible,” said Pepperdine senior Ashley Lahey, its No. 1 singles player. “I have so much love for every single person on this team.
“And just like everything that they’ve put in throughout the entire semester, they’ve all worked extremely hard and proved so much and just really bought into what it means to be a Wave. It was just an incredible, incredible week.”
Texas began the match by getting the doubles point, winning two of three sets, both in tiebreakers.
The Longhorns also won the first singles set to be decided as Charlotte Chavatipon, a freshman from Fullerton, defeated graduate student Shiori Fakuda at No. 4 singles.
The Waves got their first point of the match when graduate student Jessica Failla defeated senior Anna Turati, 6-2, 6-3, at No. 2 singles. Pepperdine tied the match, 2-2, when sophomore Lisa Zaar completed her 6-3, 7-6 (3) victory over freshman Kylie Collins at No. 5 singles.
Texas took a 3-2 lead when freshman Peyton Stearns defeated Lahey, 2-6, 6-0, 6-2 at No. 1 singles.