PALO ALTO, Calif. -- For the second time in her illustrious career, Alabama senior Robin Stephenson advanced to the second round of the NCAA Singles Championships Wednesday with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Harvard’s Eva Wang.
Stephenson (27-10) will now face California’s No. 27-ranked Suzi Babos (27-13) in the Round of 32 on Thursday. Babos pulled the first upset of the Championships when she knocked out Florida’s Alexis Gordon in straight sets Wednesday.
Twentieth-ranked Stephenson dominated her first round match with Wang (16-15) from the outset. She jumped out to 4-0 leads in each of the first two sets and never allowed her opponent to get back into the match. Wang was only able to hold her serve once in the opening set and did so just three times throughout the match.
“It was a good first round match for me,” Stephenson said. “It is always nice to get by the first round quickly and allow yourself adequate time to prepare for the next round. I felt good today and I’m excited about playing tomorrow.”
This is Stephenson’s third consecutive NCAA Championship appearance. Her record now stands at 2-2 all-time in the Championships, not including dual-match performances. She also advanced to the second round in 2004, but will be looking to move into the third round for the first time Thursday.
“Robin played really well today,” Alabama head coach Jenny Mainz said. “She looked sharp and fresh and appeared to be on top of her game.”
Stephenson will have a quick turnaround now as she’ll take to the courts to face Babos Thursday morning followed by a first round doubles match in the afternoon, although exact match times have not yet been established.
Stephenson’s meeting with Babos will be the first time the two players have met and sets up a second round match between a pair of players who have each been in the ITA’s Top-10 this season. Stephenson was ranked seventh as recent as February 22 while Babos reached as high as No. 2 in the ITA rankings back in September of 2005.
Stephenson and Bentley to Begin Doubles Play at NCAA’s on Thursday
Alabama’s all-time winningest doubles duo of Stephenson and Ashley Bentley will begin their quest for an NCAA Championship Thursday afternoon, although they’ll have their hands full in the first round. Call it the luck of the draw but the Tide’s duo, which is currently ranked 15th in the nation, will play top-seeded and home-standing Alice Barnes and Anne Yelsey of Stanford.
Stephenson and Bentley are 27-8 on the season and need just one win to set a school record for most wins in a single season. Making their second appearance in the Championships this year, they’ll also be looking to become the first Alabama doubles team to win an NCAA Championship match.
Fans will be able to watch Thursday’s matches live at www.gostanford.com and for complete NCAA Championship results visit www.ncaasports.com.