The No. 11 Stanford men’s tennis team began its spring quarter on a particularly strong note over the weekend, shutting out both Oregon and Washington in back-to-back 7-0 victories.
These two Pac-12 matches were important tests for a Cardinal team that is trying to build momentum and strong play in anticipation of the inaugural Pac-12 Championships, beginning on April 25 and the season-ending NCAA tournament in mid-May.
Stanford is coming off three spring-break matches that had varying levels of success; the team got trounced 6-1 by No. 7 Pepperdine, then bounced back with two solid wins against Pac-12 foes Arizona and Colorado. Those were Stanford’s first Pac-12 matches of the season, and coupled with those from this past weekend, gave the Cardinal a 4-0 record in Pac-12 play with matches against USC, UCLA and Cal remaining.
Against the No. 62 Ducks on Friday afternoon, Stanford dominated from the very start to collect its first shutout of the year. Playing out of the No. 6 spot, sophomore Daniel Ho recorded another impressive win to give Stanford a 2-0 lead. The senior tandem of Bradley Klahn and Ryan Thacher, who head coach John Whitlinger called his “pair of No. 1 players,” continued their dominance on both the singles and doubles courts, easily taking both of their individual matches after a tough 8-6 doubles win.
Complementing the strong play of the seniors, freshman Robert Stineman cruised through his match at the No. 5 court, notching his team-leading 20th win of the year while his classmate John Morrissey won at No. 4 for his 11th consecutive victory, a streak that dates back to Feb. 4.
Stanford continued its strong play from Friday into its match Saturday against the tricky No. 22 Huskies. Adding to the intrigue of Saturday’s match were the Senior Day festivities, a celebration of Klahn and Thacher, who have both had outstanding careers for the Cardinal.
Klahn and Thacher have had many special moments during their Cardinal careers — most notably their eight doubles titles since teaming up together as freshmen. They have also directed the Cardinal to three straight NCAA tournament appearances, including a quarterfinal berth last season. Klahn also has the most prestigious collegiate singles title to add to his ledger, the 2010 NCAA singles championship.
“It is obviously a special occasion for Ryan and I, and I have been very lucky to have him as a teammate, doubles partner and friend every step of the way for four years on the team,” Klahn said. “It is hard to believe my time at Stanford is nearing the end, and I have been very fortunate to attend such an incredible university and play with a great group of teammates and coaches. I couldn’t ask for a better group to battle day-in and day-out with, and that is what makes every match so special.”
The match on Saturday began with a closely contested doubles point that came down to the third doubles court, where the freshman duo of Morrissey and Stineman was locked in a battle for the match’s pivotal first point. True to the form they have shown all year, the freshmen rose to the challenge and outlasted their opponents 9-8 in a tiebreaker, paving the way for the Cardinal’s victory.
Stanford has a quick turnaround with its penultimate home match against San Francisco on Tuesday. The squad then hits the road for a crucial road trip to Los Angeles to battle the No. 5 UCLA Bruins and the No. 1 USC Trojans, which both crushed Stanford in their meetings earlier in the season.