The No. 2 Texas Longhorns secured the program’s third national title with a thrilling 4-3 win over No. 5 Pepperdine Saturday night at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla.
Texas won the crucial doubles point as both No. 1 and No. 3 doubles came down to a tiebreaker.
Charlotte Chavatipon gave Texas a 2-0 lead with a win on Court. 4, but Pepperdine quickly evened the score with wins by Jessica Failla at No. 2 singles and Lisa Zaar at No. 5 singles.
Peyton Stearns rallied after dropping the first set to earn a 2-6, 6-0, 6-2 win at No. 1 singles and put Texas within one point of winning the national title. Pepperdine’s Nikki Redelijk evened up the score at 3-3 and all eyes came down to the No. 3 court as a pair of freshmen, Texas’ Lul Sun and Pepperdine’s Taisiya Pachkaleva battled into a third set.
“It is truly it’s such a cliché, but the kids on the team know I’m never one to be speechless, but I’m a little bit speechless,” said Texas Head Coach Howard Joffe. “You know, it’s an interesting in terms of the poetic romance, you know, I think they had four super seniors on their team and we had four or five freshmen on our team. And so it really was fitting, I guess, youth against experience. And anyone that watched that match, I mean, the doubles point was an odyssey in of itself. We were I think I think, if I’m right, saved two match points at number one, doubles only then to win number one in three very quickly. And anyone that watched the match, I mean, there was just so little between the two teams and that our freshmen, who it came down to in the end in Peyton [Stearns] and Lulu [Sun] were able to come up with the goods is truly remarkable.”
Sun earned a late break and closed out the match with a 6-4, 6-7(3), 7-5 win to bring the women’s national championship trophy back to Austin for the first time in 26 years.
“Honestly, at the end I was almost going to cramp,” said Texas Freshman Lulu Sun about what was going through her mind during the match. “So I was just like survive the last few games and just throw everything I have. And I guess it worked.”
Women’s All-Tournament Team
No. 1 Singles: Peyton Stearns, Texas (Most Outstanding Player)
No. 2 Singles: Jessica Failla, Pepperdine
No. 3 Singles: Lulu Sun, Texas
No. 4 Singles: Charlotte Chavatipon, Texas
No. 5 Singles: Lisa Zaar, Pepperdine
No. 6 Singles: Fiona Crawley, North Carolina
No. 1 Doubles: Kylie Collins/Lulu Sun, Texas
No. 2 Doubles: Taisiya Pachkaleva/Shiori Fukuda, Pepperdine
No. 3 Doubles: Charlotte Chavatipon/Peyton Stearns, Texas