May 24, 2013
URBANA, Ill. – Stefanie Tan’s run at the NCAA Women’s Tennis Singles Championships came to an end Thursday morning at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex. The TCU sophomore, having earned All-America honors for reaching the Sweet 16, dropped a tough three-set match to Alabama’s Alexa Guarachi, the final line reading 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 in the Crimson Tide’s favor.
“Both players played well today,” TCU head coach Dave Borelli said. “In the end, Guarachi ended up returning serve just a little better. For the duration of the third set, either player looked capable of winning the match. The Alabama player was a senior who understood the magnitude of this tournament as well."
The loss means Tan, who came into the tournament No. 44 in the ITA singles rankings, closes out the season with a 24-11 record. She collected All-America honors from the ITA for her performance this week, and All-Big 12 honors for her play in the regular season. She was TCU’s first singles All-American since 2009.
A match of many breaks came down to being able to break serve just one more time. Tan had come back from a 4-2 deficit to be tied 4-4 and was on serve. However, Guarachi, the No. 36 ranked player in the ITA, had one more break in here to make the third set 5-4 in her favor. It looked like Tan would have one more chance to break, but she was unable to convert as Guarachi advanced to the quarterfinals.
“Neither player has a big serve in their game,” Borelli noted. “That this came down to an ability to break more games than the other is not surprising. When you get up in a game 0-30 or 15-40 off serve, you have to be able to close that game out.”
After dropping the first set, it became critical that Tan got off to a good start in the second set and she would have the opportunity with the serve. A long, tight game endured with Tan having to fight off two Guarachi break points before settling down and taking the first game.
The crucial game of the second set came with Tan up 3-2 and Guarachi on serve. At deuce, Guarachi earned two game points, but Tan was able to battle back to deuce both times. After failing to convert a break point, Tan used a strong service return to earn a second break and was able to make it 4-2 in her favor. She then converted her next service game for a 5-2 advantage. She wrapped up the second set with a convincing break to take the set 6-2.
There were many breaks exchanged in the first set. However, the key one turned out to be the one that tied the set at 3-3. Guarachi was able to hold her serve before breaking Tan again and was able to endure a long service game to take the first set 6-3.
"We are still disappointed that the run had to end, but that does not diminish what Stefanie did this week," Borelli concluded. "Getting into the final 16 as a sophomore is a great accomplishment. It is something that not only Stefanie, but the rest of the program can build off of. This run gives TCU women's tennis credability and provides examples for the future for the rest of the program."