Lord Leads Stanford to 19th NCAA Championship
James Maimonis, Communications and Engagement Coordinator | May 23, 2018
WINSTOM-SALEM, NC- Former No. 1 ranked New England junior and Bloomfield, CT native Melissa Lord, earned her second NCAA Division I National Championship on May 22 as a member of the No. 15 seeded Stanford Cardinal Women’s Tennis team. Lord won both her No. 3 doubles and No. 2 singles matches against top overall seed Vanderbilt and was able to clinch the title for Stanford with her final victory against No. 10 Fernanda Contreras, 6-4, 2-6, 7-5.
“It was a huge relief when I finally won the match. My opponent was such a great fighter and I had chances to close out the match a bit more efficiently, so when it was finally over it was like a weight lifted off my shoulders,” Lord said. “I knew how much hard work we all put into this season and I was just so grateful to be able to share this moment with my best friends.”
With the team score knotted at 3-3, Stanford’s title hopes were hanging in Lord’s shoulders. Contreras fought off match point down 4-5 in the third, but Lord persisted and took the next two games and the match.
“I think at 5-5 I realized I was the last court on. My teammate was on the court next to me for the majority of the third set which helped so much. It took the pressure off and I knew I only had to be solid for two more games,” she said. “Also, my coaches appeared to be very calm during changeovers and between points which helped with the nerves. (Associate Head Coach) Frankie (Brennan) kept repeating, ‘it's just tennis,’ so I knew I just had to trust the preparation our team had to get us here.”
Lord and partner Janice Shin also defeated Amanda Meyer and Chris Rosca in doubles, 6-4, however Vandy came away with the doubles point.
The championship is the 19th overall for the women’s tennis program and second in the past three years. The title also represented No. 117 for Stanford Athletics, which moved one spot in front of UCLA for the all-time lead in NCAA team championships.
Lord, who is in her junior season, missed the majority of the year due to a shoulder injury. The 2017 All-American was absent for more than four months and didn’t play her first match of the spring season until March 28. With her team’s NCAA Tournament hopes in jeopardy for the first time in 20 years, Lord came back with a vengeance and compiled an 11-1 singles record and went 13-3 doubles.
“I think being out a chunk of the season made me appreciate the sport and the opportunity I have to compete for Stanford even more. It also made me realize how much tennis has been a part of my life and to not take these four years of college tennis for granted,” Lord said. “My parents and my coach back in CT, Phil Gordon, had sacrificed so much to give me these opportunities and I wanted to finish off the season strong for not only my teammates but for them.”
With the singles victory, Lord improved to an unprecedented 15-0 in her career in NCAA team matches.