The Stanford men’s tennis team fell in the semifinals of the inaugural Pac-12 Championships, defeating Utah in the quarterfinals before falling to No. 1 USC in the semis.
No. 10 Stanford went into the weekend seeded third in the tournament behind UCLA, which upset USC in the final match of the regular season last week, and the Trojans. Stanford’s defeated the Utes 4-2, before being shut out by USC 4-0.
Against Utah, the Cardinal started off strong, riding the momentum accrued in last week’s dismantling of Pacific. In doubles play, the reshuffled lineup again proved effective as Stanford swept all three matches and claimed the doubles point. The new tandems of senior Bradley Klahn with freshman John Morrissey and senior Ryan Thacher with junior Dennis Lin were instrumental in securing the pivotal first point.
In singles play, Klahn again set the tone with a decisive 6-2, 6-2 victory at the No. 1 position and gave Stanford an intimidating 2-0 lead. After a rare loss by Thacher on the No. 2 court, freshman Robert Stineman and sophomore Daniel Ho clinched the match on courts five and six, respectively, propelling the Cardinal into yet another semifinals rematch with their nemesis, USC.
The USC men’s tennis team is a perennial powerhouse, but this year’s squad has been particularly difficult for Stanford to handle. The Trojans are the three-time defending national champions and were undefeated on the season before losing to UCLA last week. Coming into the Pac-12s, the Trojans’ record was 25-1.
Stanford and USC had played twice before this season, and the Trojans had yet to surrender a point. The same was true on Friday, as the Trojans shut out the Cardinal in a match that was closer than the final lopsided score indicated.
All three doubles matches and the three completed singles matches came down to the wire, with the Trojans managing to win the key points at the most important times to secure the victory. Perhaps the most intriguing showdown was at No. 1 singles, where old foes Klahn and USC’s Steve Johnson were doing battle.
Klahn and Johnson are the two most recent NCAA singles champions and Klahn was the last one to defeat No. 2 Johnson, doing so at the beginning of last season. In a closely contested, two-set match, Johnson edged Klahn 6-4, 6-3.
Stanford will now return home and rest up for the season-ending NCAA tournament, which begins on May 11. The draw is yet to be released and the venues for the first and second round remain unknown. Stanford’s own Taube Family Tennis Center is in the running to host first and second round matches, and the Cardinal is likely to start out the NCAA tournament at home. The final rounds of the tournament will be played at the University of Georgia.