Even though she can’t be considered one of the best players in program history, no discussion about the history of Alabama women’s tennis can begin without mentioning Roberta Alison Baumgardner.
The Crimson Tide hosts an annual tournament in her honor, and Alabama’s indoor courts are in the Roberta Alison Baumgardner Tennis Facility, which was dedicated in April 2012.
But she never played for the Alabama women’s tennis team.
It didn’t exist.
In 1963, at the urging of Crimson Tide coach Jason Morton, the 19-year-old enrolled at Alabama and joined the men’s team. She didn’t just play for three years, but was at either No. 1 or No. 2 singles during her final two seasons.
Some competing schools defaulted the match, preferring the forfeit compared to the risk of losing.
She helped pave the way for women's varsity athletics in the Southeastern Conference, including players like Myke Loomis (who holds the Alabama record for top-five singles wins, going 37-10 at No. 2), and Titia Wilmink (All-American in 1993, and academic All-American in 1992).
Both would also be worthy of being listed among the top-five players in program history.
(Note: Normally these go in reverse order, but due to numerous doubles pairings an exception was made for this listing):
1] Alexa Guarachi
Holds the Alabama record for career wins in singles (109-46) and doubles along with Courtney McLane (69-20). She made the NCAA tournament all four years at Alabama, and her senior year reached the semifinals in both singles and doubles. Was an All-American in both in 2013.
Although Guarachi was born in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., she represents Chile as a professional. She played in the doubles finals of the 2020 French Open, and won the doubles title at the 2021 Dubai Championships with Darija Jurak.
According to her WTA bio, her best tennis memory so far was playing mixed doubles against Serena Williams and Andy Murray on Centre Court at 2019 Wimbledon.
2] Erin Routliffe
Won back-to-back NCAA doubles titles with Maya Jansen in 2014-2015, and reached the finals again in 2017 with Maddie Pothoff.
She and Jansen hold the Crimson Tide record for top-5 doubles wins, going 32-4 in 2015, and Routliffe is tied for fourth on the Alabama all-time singles wins list with 89.
Routliffe is a New Zealand professional tennis player who had previously represented Canada. She reached the main draw of Wimbledon in 2018 and 2019, and made it all the way to the Citi Open Doubles Final with Guarachi in 2018.
3] Maya Jansen
Routliffe and Jansen became just the third doubles team in NCAA history to win back-to-back national championships, when they did so in 2014 and 2015.
Over three seasons, Jansen and Routliffe went 57-8 while playing first doubles.
Jansen played mostly third singles, but had a huge part in Alabama winning the SEC championship in 2014.
4] Mary Anne Macfarlane Daines
Daines, who married her high school sweetheart before her senior season, played in three NCAA tournaments in singles, and two in doubles including reaching the semifinals along with Garachi in 2013.
She was named an All-American in singles in 2012, and doubles in 2013.
Daines was also the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2014, and the program’s first NCAA Elite 90 winner.
5] Robin Stephenson
Played in three straight NCAA tournaments (2004-06) in singles and doubles, and won her opening-round singles match in each. Was named an All-American in 2005.
Is the only Crimson Tide player to be ranked in the top 10 nationally in singles (2005-06), climbing all the way up to No. 4 on Sept. 6, 2005. Is second in program history in all-time singles wins with 101, and with Ashley Bentley is second in doubles win with 66.
Is currently the head coach at Washington.
The Crimson Tide Top 5 will appear every day during the month of June on BamaCentral.