PACIFIC PALISADES — Debbie Graham's recent dominance of college tennis in general and Stanford teammate and doubles partner Sandra Birch in particular ended Sunday.
Birch, who had lost to Graham in the semifinals of the Pacific-10 Conference Tournament in April and the NCAA Championships a month later, defeated Graham, 6-2, 3-6, 7-5, in the final of the Riviera Women's All-American Tennis Championships at Riviera Country Club. The tournament is one of four comprising the collegiate grand slam.
The defeat ended a 40-match winning streak in collegiate singles matches for Graham, a graduate of Los Amigos High School. Graham, the reigning NCAA singles champion, is the top-ranked player in the current Volvo Tennis/Collegiate Rankings.
"My serve was horrendous," said Graham, who doubled faulted 12 times. "But I think I played a good game in that I came in all the time, and that's what I'm working on right now. I'm trying to get my game ready for the pro tour. Maybe I'll lose matches like that, but it wasn't like I got killed or she beat me handily. I definitely had the match at times."
Graham led, 5-3, in the final set before Birch took the last four games. Graham had her serve broken in the match's final set, double faulting twice and hitting a backhand volley long at match point.
Graham, the tournament's No. 1 seeded player, began the match slowly, double faulting twice and making two unforced errors in the opening game.
"Debbie started very tight, and that made me feel a little better because I was very nervous, too," said Birch, the tournament's defending champion, second-seeded and 1989 NCAA singles champion.
After Birch held her serve, Graham won the next two games before Birch took the following four games to win the set.
Both were unable to hold their serves in the first four games of the second set. However, Graham took control in the seventh game, holding her serve, breaking Birch the next game and then holding serve to even the match.
All-American Tournament Notes
Sandra Birch and Debbie Graham defeated Indiana's Deborah Edelman and Stephanie Reece, 6-3, 6-1, to win the doubles final. . . . Danielle Scott, an Arizona junior and graduate of Corona del Mar High School, won the consolation championship with a 6-4, 6-4, victory over Stanford's Teri Whitlinger. . . . Graham said she will pass up the next leg of the collegiate grand slam, the Du Pont National Clay Court Championships next month in Panama City, Fla., and make her next tournament appearance in January's National Collegiate Tennis Classic in Palm Springs.