STANFORD, Calif. - Less than 24 hours after pulling out an epic three-set victory in the opening round of the NCAA Championships, freshman Connie Hsu could not duplicate that success a day later and fell in the Round of 32 by the final of 6-4, 6-4. Going up against Virginia's top player, Lindsey Hardenbergh, Hsu played both sets tight, but just could not pull the necessary points together to pull out a set. In each set, Hsu held serve in three of her five service games, but her opponent was slightly better as she held four of her five service games in each set.
Hsu started out the match strong, winning the first three games, but things snowballed out of control as Hardenbergh rallied for the first set victory. The Quakers' top player jumped out in front early with a hold of serve, while not allowing Hardenbergh a point in the game. In Hardenbergh's first service game, Hsu picked up the early double break point and converted on the second of her chances to go up 2-0. Hsu's second service game was not as easy as her first, but she managed to hold. Facing a break point and playing three deuces in that third game alone, Hsu would eventually come away with the winner and go up 3-0.
During Hardenbergh's second service, Hsu looked poised to completely take over the first set, but could not convert on two separate break points and the Virginia Cavalier would hold her serve after another three deuces in that game. Hsu quickly put that game behind her and picked up her second love service game of the set and was up 4-1 heading into Hardenbergh's third serve.
This time it was Hardenbergh's turn for a love service as she cut the lead to 4-2. She then earned two break points on Hsu's next serve and converted the second chance, making the score 4-3. Hsu would then also have double break point in the fourth service game, but the Virginia junior would force deuce and go on to save another break point, eventually holding on for the game, getting the set back on service at four-all.
From that point on, Hardenbergh's momentum could not be stopped and she broke Hsu's serve and would hold her fifth service game, taking the first set 6-4. Facing the early deficit was definitely unfamiliar territory to the Quaker freshman. Prior to this match today, Hsu had only dropped the opening set in two of her previous matches. Before today, she was 1-1 in matches when she found herself down a set.
Hardenbergh's momentum did not come to an end after the two players put the first set behind them. She quickly broke Hsu's serve to start the second set and held serve in her game, taking the early 2-0 lead. Hsu would bounce back in her second service game as she held with relative ease, making the score 2-1. However, she still could not figure out her opponent's serve in the second and trailed 3-1 after four games. In her third service game of the set, Hsu found herself facing a triple break point and saved one, but could not save all three as Hardenbergh took a 4-1 lead.
From there, Hsu began a mini rally of her own. During her opponent's third service, with the game tied at 30-all, Hsu won the next two points and earned her only break of the second set. Hsu's fourth service game also went 30-all after four points. Hardenbergh earned a break point after that, but Hsu took the next three points, earning a deuce, the advantage, and the game win in consecutive points. This made the score 4-3 in favor of Hardenbergh as Hsu found herself down just one break going into Hardenbergh's serve.
However, Hsu could not earn the break during her next opportunity and found herself down 5-3. Serving for her tournament life, Hsu jumped up 40-15 and converted on her second game point to once again draw within a break at 5-4. In Hardenbergh's final service game, she jumped out in front 30-love before the two players traded points and Hsu faced double match point. She would save the first, but the second match point would seal the match and send Hardenbergh into the next round.
Despite the loss, Hsu capped a stellar freshman season that saw her win 44 matches against just three losses. Prior to today's match, Hsu had run off 21 consecutive victories, dropping just one set during that span. She also became the first singles player in women's tennis to earn a bid into NCAA's since 2003 when Alice Pirsu qualified. Hsu also earned Ivy League Player and Rookie of the Year honors this season as part of a team that doubled its win total from a year ago and picked up two Ivy League victories to cap the season.