National Championship moments: 1995 Women's Tennis
"This team is a family," said then Texas women's tennis head coach Jeff Moore after winning the 1995 NCAA National Championship. "There is talent, but in order to be successful, you need to come together as a team."
Together, the Longhorns posted a 26-3 record and claimed their eighth straight Southwest Conference tournament title and third consecutive undefeated SWC season at 7-0. The 1995 season marked the fifth time in six years that Texas advanced to the NCAA Tournament and the Horns captured the national title for the second time in three years.
Four UT players earned All-America honors and four were named All-SWC, including SWC Player of the Year Kelly Pace. The team posted regular-season wins over 10 top-20 teams, including NCAA finalist Florida.
Texas quickly established itself as the team to beat at the NCAA Championships, entering the spring season with a No. 2 team ranking, five singles players ranked in the top 40 on the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) singles list and one doubles team in the top 10.
Lead the charge was Pace, who led by example all season, playing with intensity and fire. Pace became UT's all-time winningest player, finishing with a 42-4 record. Her 152 career victories ranked first on UT's all-time list at the time. After helping the Horns capture the national championship, Pace advanced to both the finals of the NCAA Individual Singles Championship and the Individual Doubles Championship. She fell just short of becoming the first player in NCAA history to win the triple crown, losing to UCLA's Keri Phebus in singles and Phebus and partner Susie Starrett in doubles.
For her outstanding efforts, Pace was named ITA Senior Player of the Year and finished with a No. 2 ranking. The All-American in both singles and doubles was also named All-SWC in singles and doubles.
Completing the 1-2 punch for the Horns was senior Lucie Ludvigova. The Czech Republic native entered the season as the top-ranked player and was never ranked below No. 11 all season. She finished the year with a 23-8 record after missing most of March with a sore Achilles tendon. Ludvigova earned All-America status after advancing to the round of 16 at the NCAA Championships and was also named All-SWC in singles.
Freshman Cristina Moros played No. 4 singles for Texas. Armed with a powerful serve, Moros earned All-America and All-SWC honors in doubles and finished the season with a 34-10 record in singles and 29-3 doubles mark teamed up with pace. Moros and Pace were never ranked lower than third all season.
Pastor exhibited grace and an incredible amount of poise for a freshman at No. 5 singles. Playing some of the most consistent tennis on the team, the native of France took a 14-match winning streak to the NCAAs, and extended it to 17 before losing to Florida's Lori Ann Freedman in the championship match, ending the season with a 36-6 record. Senior Jennifer Nasser (15-9) and freshman Nomena Rasolomalala (17-6) took turns playing at No. 6 singles.
Senior Ashley Johnson and junior Ashley Mokry also made contributions in the Longhorns' National Championship run. Johnson played in 17 doubles matches, posting a 12-5 mark, including a 9-1 record when teamed with Ludvigova, and ended her career with over 50 doubles victories. Mokry went 1-1 on the season at No. 6 singles.
Armed with a strong arsenal of talent, Texas began the fall season with three players capturing tournament titles -- Pace, the 1994 ITA All-American champion, Moros, the ITA Southwest Regional champion and Pastor, the Westwood Invitational champion. When the Dec. 7 ITA poll was released, it came as no surprise that Pace became the nation's new No. 1 player. Besides her All-America title, Pace posted other outstanding results in fall competition. The Huntsville, Ala., native won the consolation title at the ITA Clay Courts Championship, advanced to the quarterfinals at the ITA Indoor National Championship and combined with Moros to win the doubles title at the Southwest Regionals. Pace and Moros established themselves as one of the most formidable doubles combinations in the country with a No. 2 national ranking.
High expectations followed the Longhorns into the dual season. A 9-0 blanking of SWC foe Texas Tech started the ball rolling and the team continued to gain momentum as the season sped towards nationals. The team's No. 2 ranking was challenged by a schedule that included eight preseason top 10 teams. The biggest hurdles on the path to the NCAAs were road matches against top-ranked Georgia, third-ranked Stanford, fourth-ranked California and a home contest against sixth-ranked Florida.
In a battle for NCAA supremacy, No. 1 Georgia handed Texas a 6-1 defeat. The Horns rebounded with a vengeance -- winning their next 10 matches. The Longhorns ended Stanford's 31-match home winning streak with a 6-3 knockout; blanked California, 8-0; and collected victories over Wake Forest (6-2) and Florida (5-2). The Florida match attracted more than 300 fans who came to see Pace battle former Texas player Jill Craybas at the No. 1 singles spot. Pace delivered a 7-5, 6-1 defeat.
Texas completed the regular season with a 19-3 record and carried an undefeated conference mark into the SWC Championships in College Station, Texas. Not only had the Horns beaten all seven of their SWC rivals, but they won in impressive fashion, winning all 40 individual singles matches and all 17 doubles matches.
The Longhorns entered the SWC Championships as heavy favorites and they did not disappoint, posting 5-0 shutouts of Texas Tech, SMU and Texas A&M to win their eighth consecutive tournament crown. Four Texas players were named to the 1995 All-SWC team with Pace, Ludvigova and Taylor earning singles accolades and Pace and Moros being honored in doubles.
With a 22-3 record and No. 4 national ranking, Texas earned the No. 2 seed at the NCAA Championships in Malibu, Calif. Coming off nearly a month's rest, the Longhorns cruised into the quarterfinals with a 5-1 win over 15th-seeded Indiana. No. 10 Arizona State was Texas' quarterfinal opponent. During the dual season, the Longhorns beat the Sun Devils, 6-0, in Tempe, and this contest would not be close either as UT cruised to a 5-1 win.
Now, only Stanford stood between Texas and its third consecutive NCAA finals appearance. The Cardinal, which fell to Texas at home, 6-3, during the dual season, sought revenge. Stanford, the third seed, opened up a 1-0 lead after 20th-ranked Kim Shasby defeated Taylor in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4. Texas tied the match at 1-1 when Ludvigova posted a 6-4, 7-5 win over Ania Bleszynski, ranked No. 19, at No. 2 singles. Pace added a 6-3, 6-4 win over Katie Schlukebir at No. 1, giving Texas a 2-1 lead. Freshmen Moros and Pastor added victories for the Longhorns, while Rasolomalala clinched the match at No. 6 singles with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Amy Chiminello giving UT the 5-1 win.
Once again, it was Florida and Texas battling for the coveted crown. The Longhorns had eliminated Florida in three straight NCAA Championships, including a 6-0 win in the 1994 quarterfinals. This time around, the Longhorns would have to fight a lot harder to beat the Gators. When Florida took a 4-2 lead into the doubles competition, all seemed under control for the Gators. After all, they had swept No. 4-No. 6 singles matches to take a 3-0 lead and they needed only one doubles victory to clinch the title. But No. 2 Texas, the last team to defeat Florida with a 5-2 win in March, had a different idea as to who controlled the match.
Sparked by an emotional three-set win by Pace in No. 1 singles and a tough three-set loss by Ludvigova in No. 2 singles, the Longhorns swept the doubles matches to win their second national championship in three years with a 5-4 upset over top-ranked and top-seeded Florida.
Texas clinched the match at No. 2 doubles when Pastor and Taylor defeated former Longhorn Jill Craybas and Divya Merchant, 6-2, 5-7, 6-2. Pastor and Taylor went up a break, 4-1, in the second set, but Florida fought off two match points and rallied to take the final two games. After taking a 5-0 lead in the final set, the Longhorns fought off a furious Florida rally, clinching the match when Merchant's return sailed wide.