When Melissa Lord ’15 graduated from KO, she completed her high school tennis career undefeated. Tapped to play Division I tennis at Stanford University, Lord continued her impressive streak, earning a final number 25 national ranking this year. So, it was no surprise to see Melissa on television this Wednesday night at the annual ESPN’s Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Award (ESPY) ceremony accepting the Capital One Cup for Stanford University. The Capital One Cup is a multi-sport award given to a school to acknowledge athletic success across all sports.
A recent headline from SFgate.com explains just why Lord was selected to accept the award with a Cardinal teammate: "Melissa Lord helps deliver Stanford women from 46th ranking to NCAA title." Stanford was the lowest seeded team to win a championship in tennis ever. After missing 12 matches this year to a shoulder injury, Lord came back with a vengeance when it really counted. Playing for the national title, Lord's match against Vanderbilt's Fernanda Contreras clinched the title win.
The SFgate article details just how on the line Melissa’s match against Contreras meant to the team.
“They split the first two sets and it was 5-all in the third when Lord found out that teammate Emily Arbuthnott had lost at the No. 4 spot.
“Oh wow, it’s up to me,” Lord said when asked in a phone interview how she reacted to needing her first clinching win this season. “Honestly, after seeing my teammates clinch so much and the pressure they have felt, I thought: If they can do it, I can do it, too.”
Contreras was hitting a lot of backhand slices and high, looping balls, so Lord had to be on her toes. “I knew I had to be strong physically,” she said. “I knew I had to play my game, which is a little bit more aggressive.”
When Contreras hit her final return into the net, Lord had a 6-4, 2-6, 7-5 victory — and the Cardinal (24-3) had won its 20th straight match. “I haven’t cried tears of happiness in a very long time,” Lord said. “It was a feeling I’d never felt before.”
Stanford is the only school to sweep the Capital One Cup Women’s Championship, the Capital One Cup Men’s Championship and Directors’ Cup ever.
Lord highlights as a Junior (2017-18)
• All-Pac-12 Second Team selection
• Pac-12 All-Academic Honorable Mention pick
• NCAA All-Tournament Team selection (No. 2 singles)
• Earned final No. 25 national ranking
• 19-5 overall, returning to the lineup on March 28 after missing the first two months of the dual season with a shoulder injury
• 11-1 in duals, playing all of her matches at the No. 2 spot
• Only clincher came in Stanford's 4-3 victory over Vanderbilt in the NCAA Championship
• Qualified for NCAA Singles Championship but was eliminated in the first round
• 5-0 in NCAA matches, improving her career record in such matches to 15-0
• 3-1 in three-set matches
• 10-5 versus nationally-ranked foes
• 7-3 against Pac-12 opponents
• Reached semifinals of the ITA Northwest Regional Championships
• In doubles, paired with Janice Shin to finish 13-3 overall/duals as Stanford's No. 3 team
Information provided by Stanford University player stats