Waves Continue NCAA Championships in North Carolina
This is the third-consecutive season Pepperdine has reached the second location of the NCAA Tournament.
MALIBU, Calif. – The #12-ranked and #13-seeded Pepperdine women’s tennis team continues the NCAA Championships in Winston-Salem, N.C. on Thursday with a Sweet Sixteen match-up against #4 Georgia Tech at 4 p.m. PT.
NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS: Thursday-Tuesday (May 17-22) | NCAA Championships at Wake Forest Tennis Complex in Winston-Salem, N.C.
TOURNAMENT CENTRAL:NCAA Tournament Central: https://gowav.es/2I1K6nN
LIVE STREAM/COVERAGE: All matches will have live scoring and live streaming available at the tournament central link above. Follow @WavesTennis on Twitter for any available immediate updates.
LOOKING AHEAD: Pending wins, Pepperdine will continue with the tournament through Tuesday, May 22.
CHAMPIONSHIP FIELD: The tournament is single elimination. Tournament matches will be regulation dual matches with three six-game, pro-set doubles played for one team point, followed by six singles matches, each valued at one team point, played in best-of-three sets. Regular scoring will be used and a point-for-point tiebreaker will be played at seven-games-all in doubles and at six-games-all in singles.
NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS: A HISTORY: Dating back to 1982, the Waves have advanced to the NCAA postseason on 34 occasions, with the most recent being back-to-back quarterfinal runs in the 2016 and 2017 campaigns. Pepperdine has only missed the NCAA Tournament twice in the program’s 36-year history. Since the tournament changed to a 64-team format, the Waves have played host to the first two rounds on five occasions in 1999, 2000, 2006, 2016 and 2017. The team’s best finishes have been six appearances in the quarterfinals with three straight from 1989-91, 1994 and again on consecutive occasions in 2016 and 2017.
NCAA SINGLES & DOUBLES: Four singles and one doubles partnership earned spots in the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships brackets. In singles, Ashley Lahey, Mayar Sherif, Luisa Stefani and Evgeniya Levashova will compete for the Waves. In doubles, Sherif and Stefani will team up in an attempt to go to the finish line.
THE WAVES: Throughout the regular season, Pepperdine posted a 24-2 overall record, including an untarnished 9-0 record against West Coast Conference opponents. The Waves have gone 13-1 at home, 5-0 on the road and 6-1 on neutral courts this season.
As a team, the Waves have produced a 102-16 record in singles dual action for a .864 winning percentage, including a 15-2 record in the No. 1 position. Luisa Stefani leads in that position with an 11-2 record, while Ashley Lahey has gone 4-0 in the No. 1 position and 7-2 in the No. 2 position. Pepperdine has gone 15-3 in the No. 2 position, 20-2 in the No. 3 position, 19-1 in the No. 4 position, 19-4 in the No. 5 spot and 14-4 in the No. 6 slot. Mayar Sherif has amassed an 18-1 output with an untarnished 11-0 record at the No. 3 spot and a 7-1 record in the No. 2 position. Evgeniya Levashova has gone 21-1 in dual action, Laura Gulbe has put up an 18-2 output and Dzina Milovanovic and Adrijana Lekaj possess 14-5 and 9-2 dual records respectively. Levashova and Gulbe are currently on a 16-match winning streaks, while both Sherif has won 13-consecutive matches.
In doubles action, Pepperdine has put in a 48-15 overall dual record for a .762 winning percentage, with the No. 1 pair going 20-4, No. 2 going 12-6 and No. 3 going 16-5 this season. At No. 1, Stefani and Sherif lead with a 15-2 record. Levashova and Milovanovic have spent time together in the No. 2 position for an 11-5 record and three pairings have played at No. 3 with Lahey and Lekaj leading with a 9-2 record this season.
FIRST AND SECOND ROUNDS: Pepperdine was one-of-16 first and second round hosts for the third-straight season. The Waves bested both Idaho and #18 Kansas to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. Pepperdine dominated Idaho 4-0 in the first round and rallied back from dropping the doubles point to win 4-1 against the Jayhawks in the second round.
OPPONENTS: Pepperdine and Georgia Tech have faced off four times since 2004, splitting for a 2-2 all-time record. The Waves won the first match with a 4-3 result, while GT took the next two. Earlier this season for the fourth meeting, this time in the ITA National Team Indoors Championships, the Waves won with a 4-2 result in the quarterfinal round. Pepperdine went on to play in the title match of the tournament as well.
PEPPERDINE’S 6TH-STRAIGHT WCC TITLE: For the 6th-consecutive season, the Waves have won straight through WCC opponents for a conference tournament crown. In the 31-year history of West Coast Conference women’s tennis, Pepperdine has captured the tournament title on 28 separate occasions, including a run of 14-straight titles from 1988-2001. The Waves then put together a streak of seven-consecutive titles between 2003-09 and is currently on a six-year streak of winning the tournament crown from 2013-18. The Waves have posted a remarkable 61-3 (.953) record in tournament play since the dual-match format was established in 1995.
POSTSEASON HONORS: For the fourth-straight season, the Waves have earned all or a share of the top WCC honors. This season, Mayar Sherif earned WCC Player of the Year, Evgeniya Levashova garnered WCC Co-Freshman of the Year and Head Coach Per Nilsson was awarded WCC Coach of the Year for the fourth time.
Sherif, Levashova, Ashley Lahey and Luisa Stefani also garnered All-WCC first team honors, while Laura Gulbe and Dzina Milovanovic earned second team and honorable mention nods. In doubles, Sherif and Stefani tabbed a first team honor, while Levashova and Milovanovic picked up second team acclaim and Lahey and Adrijana Lekaj earned honorable mention status.
WEEKLY ACCOLADES: Mayar Sherif and Luisa Stefani garnered their second-straight doubles honor on April 10. The Waves have earned seven West Coast Conference weekly honors this season thus far, with Luisa Stefani tabbing her second singles player of the week honor on March 6, to tally her 10th-career weekly singles honor. She also received singles accolades on February 6. Ashley Lahey and Mayar Sherif continued with the honors by sweeping the singles and doubles awards on February 13 and Laura Gulbe and Evgeniya Levashova also earned singles acclaim in March and April respectively.
ORACLE/ITA RANKINGS: The Waves are currently ranked No. 13 in the Oracle/ITA rankings. In the singles rankings, Ashley Lahey and Mayar Sherif rank 17th and 22nd respectively, while Luisa Stefani is at the No. 27-spot. Evgeniya Levashova and Laura Gulbe rank No. 54 and No. 91 respectively.
In doubles, Sherif ranks twice with a No. 13 ranking alongside Stefani and No. 35 ranking when playing with Lahey. Levashova and Milovanovic rank ranked No. 76.
ITA NATIONAL TEAM INDOOR RUNNER-UP: Pepperdine put in a solid performance at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships two weeks ago, finishing as runners-up. The Waves went 3-1 in the tournament, defeating No. 12 Auburn 4-2, No. 7 Georgia Tech 4-2 and No. 2 Vanderbilt 4-3 to reach the title bout against No. 5 North Carolina. The Waves posted a big battled against the Tar Heels, eventually falling 4-2 to close the weekend.
PEPPERDINE ROSTER: This season, the Waves have two seniors with Mayar Sherif and Laura Gulbe. Three juniors have returned or joined the squad as Dzina Milovanovic and Luisa Stefani returned. Jessica Failla also joined the squad as a junior transfer from USC at the beginning of the fall. Stefani has ranked as high as No. 2 in the Oracle/ITA singles rankings. Ashley Lahey also returns to the Waves’ lineup and has ranked as high as No. 3 throughout the fall season. Adrijana Lekaj will hit the court as a sophomore for the Waves this season as well. The last addition this spring is Evgeniya Levashova who joins the squad with a career-high juniors ITF ranking of No. 12.
ITA SOUTHWEST REGIONAL: For the third-consecutive season, the Waves have won the ITA Southwest Regional singles draw. Ashley Lahey won the tournament for the second straight year, and this season she faced fellow Wave Mayar Sherif in the final match-up to earn them both a bid to the Oracle ITA Fall National Championship. Lahey won the tournament with wins against Alaina Miller (UCLA), Sydney Van Alphen (USC), Elisabeta Volodko (UCSB), Eva Voracek (LMU), Avan Broomfield (UCLA) and Mayar Sherif (Pepperdine). Sherif reached the final after collecting victories over Calota Casasampere (LBSU), Becca Weissmann (USC), Lena Pacholski (LBSU), No. 73 Jada Hart (UCLA) and Veronika Miroshnichenko (LMU).
OTHER FALL TOURNAMENTS: In addition to the regional, the Waves competed in five other fall tournaments, including the Oracle/ITA Masters and the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships. In the Oracle/ITA Masters, Mayar Sherif reached the semifinal round against Alle Sanford, the 6th-ranked newcomer from UNC, before falling in a three-set bout. At the fall championships, Ashley Lahey made her sophomore season debut and reached the quarterfinal round.
A GLANCE AT 2016-17: In the 2016-17 season, the Waves posted a 24-5 overall record and marked a second-consecutive appearance in the NCAA National Championship quarterfinals. Pepperdine also marked the fifth-consecutive WCC Tournament Championship title as well as the sixth-straight regular season crown. As a team, Pepperdine produced a .689 overall singles winning percentage with a 146-66 overall record. The team also posted a .686 winning percentage in doubles with a 72-33 overall record.
NILSSON: Per Nilsson returned to Pepperdine in June 2014 to succeed Gualberto Escudero as head coach of the women’s tennis team. In his three years with the Waves, he has been named West Coast Conference Coach of the Year on three-consecutive occasions. In 2016 and 2017, he led the Waves to a NCAA Championship quarterfinal appearances and #9 and #8 final ranking in the ITA/Oracle rankings respectively. He was an assistant coach for the Pepperdine men’s tennis team from 2003-07 under head coach Adam Steinberg, where the Waves went 119-38 in those five seasons. Pepperdine won the NCAA team championship in 2006 with Nilsson on the sidelines. He was the head men’s coach at Mississippi State, his alma mater, for seven seasons from 2008-2014. Nilsson compiled a record of 95-76 during his time at MSU.
#PURPOSE: The Pepperdine University Department of Athletics is committed to Christian values, to the academic well-being of all of our student-athletes and to competing for championships. We prepare students for success by challenging them to think differently - find your purpose, serve others and lead by example. The Competing with Purpose campaign highlights the commitment to our core values that student-athletes, coaches and staff dedicate themselves to daily. Competing with Purpose provides the foundation on which champions are built.
ABOUT PEPPERDINE: Pepperdine boasts a one-of-a-kind athletic department with unprecedented success for a school of its size. The Waves have won NCAA Division I Championships in five different men’s sports — one of just 17 schools to have accomplished this feat — and nine overall. Of this elite group, Pepperdine has the smallest undergraduate enrollment, is the only school without football and is the only university that has not been affiliated with a “major” conference. The Waves have won a total of 25 team or individual national championships in their history. Pepperdine has also earned the Division I-AAA All-Sports Trophy, an award based on postseason success that’s given to the top non-football school, three times (most recently in 2011-12). Located in scenic Malibu, Calif., the university overlooks the Pacific Ocean and its campus and athletic facilities are regularly voted among the nation’s most beautiful. Pepperdine, which is affiliated with the Church of Christ, ranks No. 46 overall on U.S. News and World Report’s list of America’s best colleges.