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Luisa Stefani Advances To NCAA Quarterfinals

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(Courtesy of Pepperdine Athletic Communications)

TULSA, Okla. – Freshman Luisa Stefani of the Pepperdine women’s tennis team advanced to the NCAA Singles Championships quarterfinal this Friday afternoon after defeating 14th-ranked Frances Altick of Vanderbilt in three sets at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center.

Stefani fell 4-6 in the first set, but rallied back with 6-2 and 6-3 second and third set victories to advance through the round of 16.  She and junior partner Apichaya Runglerdkriangkrai and senior Matea Cutura and junior Christine Maddox also played in the NCAA Doubles Championships this afternoon, both falling to bow out of the tournament.

The sixth-ranked and seventh-seeded Stefani faced possibly her toughest competition of the tournament as she went up against 14th-ranked Frances Altick of Vanderbilt to start the day.  Altick came out strong and after going point-for-point against the Wave, took the first set 6-4 to go up early. 

Stefani was not ready to roll over, however, and dominated the second set with a 6-2 result to tie the match and send things to a third set.  In the third, the two opponents once again went point-for-point to the 3-3 mark before Stefani picked up the momentum and controlled the rest of the set towards a 6-3 result for the three-set victory on the day. 

With the win, she became the first Wave to reach the NCAA Singles Championships quarterfinals since Ginger Helgeson did so in the 1990 campaign.  The freshman will be challenged by 28th-ranked Kennedy Shaffer of Georgia tomorrow (May 28) in the quarterfinal matchup.

Stefani has gone 39-5 throughout the 2015-16 campaign, including a 25-4 record against nationally ranked opponents.  She heads into the next round with an 11-match winning streak in her back pocket.

The doubles side was not so kind to the Waves despite strong efforts from both pairs.

In the first Pepperdine doubles competition of the day, 19th-ranked Waves’ pair Maddox and Cutura were felled in two sets, first falling in the first set 6-3 to third-ranked Brooke Austin and Kourtney Keegan of Florida.  The Waves battled in the second set, eventually amassing a 5-3 lead late, but the opposition were strong with a comeback tying the set 6-6.  In the tiebreak, the pairs went point-for-point to the 4-4 mark before the opposition once again worked ahead to the 7-4 tiebreaker win. 

Cutura and Maddox finish with a 21-7 overall record throughout the 2015-16 campaign, including a 7-6 record against nationally ranked opposition.  They finished out the 2016 season on a 11-1 run against opponents.

Then, 26th-ranked Runglerdkriangkrai and Stefani fell in the next matchup after three solid sets against fourth-ranked California pair Maegan Manasse and Denise Starr.  The Waves dominated the first set with a 6-2 decision, but the higher-ranked squad battled back from an early deficit in the second set to pick up the 6-4 lead that would tie the match.  Then in the point-for-point tiebreaker third set, the Golden Bears had the momentum and amassed a 7-5 lead over the Waves.  Despite a big performance by Pepperdine, the opposition pulled away and picked up the 10-6 win to move on to the next round.

Stefani and Runglerdkriangkrai finish the 2015-16 campaign with a 23-5 overall record, while going 7-4 when facing nationally ranked opponents.  The duo went 9-3 in their last 12 matches of the 2016 spring season. 

NCAA Singles Tournament | Michael D. Case Tennis Center
Tulsa, Okla. | May 25-30, 2016
Round One (64): No. 6 Luisa Stefani (PEP) def. No. 92 Gabriela Porubin (Wichita State) – 7-5, 6-3
Round Two (32): No. 6 Luisa Stefani (PEP) def. No. 50 Sadie Hammond (Tennessee) – 6-0, 6-3
Round of 16: No. 6 Luisa Stefani (PEP) def. No. 14 Frances Altick (Vanderbilt) – 4-6, 6-2, 6-3
Quarterfinal: No. 6 Luisa Stefani (PEP) vs. No. 28 Kennedy Shaffer (Florida) – 10 a.m. (PT)

NCAA Doubles Tournament | Michael D. Case Tennis Center
Tulsa, Okla. | May 26-30, 2016
Round One (32): No. 19 Matea Cutura/Christine Maddox (PEP) def. No. 14 Sydney Campbell/Courtney Colton (Vanderbilt) – 7-6 (4), 7-5
Round One (32): No. 26 Luisa Stefani/Apichaya Runglerdkriangkrai (PEP) def. No. 13 Paige Hourigan/Kendal Woodard (Georgia Tech) – 6-2, 2-6, 10-5
Round of 16: No. 3 Brooke Austin/Kourtney Keegan (Florida) def. No. 19 Matea Cutura/Christine Maddox (PEP) – 6-3, 7-6 (4)
Round of 16: No. 4 Maegan Manasse- Denise Starr (CAL) def. No. 26 Luisa Stefani/Apichaya Runglerdkriangkrai (PEP) – 2-6, 6-4, 10-6