The No. 49 Stanford men’s tennis team will play host to No. 2 USC tomorrow in the Cardinal’s first official match of the Pac-12 season.
Stanford, carrying a 7-5 record, is currently on a four-match win streak, having recently clinched victories at the Taube Family Tennis Stadium against Saint Mary’s, Nevada, Boise State and Furman. All of the Cardinal’s victories this season have been at home.
USC has had a more successful season thus far, with a 17-2 record. The Trojans have won four consecutive national championships and beat the Cardinal 6-1 in Los Angeles on Feb. 9.
Freshman Nolan Paige, who is ranked 88th in the nation, picked up Stanford’s only victory of the day during the February match against USC, defeating Max de Vroome 4-6, 7-5, 1-0 at No. 4 singles. The Cardinal almost took another point at No. 5 singles, where sophomore Robert Stineman lost a close match to USC’s Michael Grant 3-6, 7-6, 0-1.
USC’s victories in the other singles and doubles matches were more decisive, with no Stanford player or team winning more than five games.
“That match was pretty tough,” said sophomore John Morrissey. “It is never easy to play down there, but I thought there were some pretty good performances.”
Morrissey, who is ranked 54th in the nation, lost 6-2, 6-1 to USC’s Emilio Gomez at No. 1 singles. He was also defeated 8-2 at No. 1 doubles with senior Matt Kandath. USC has seven nationally ranked players, while the Cardinal has two.
Earlier in the season, USC picked up victories against No. 4 UCLA, No. 15 Berkeley, San Francisco and UC-Irvine, among other teams, during an 11-match winning streak. The team’s first defeat came against No. 1 Virginia in the championship round of the ITA National Team Indoor Championships, and the Trojans suffered their only other loss against UCLA later that week.
While Morrissey acknowledged that USC has a strong record, he believes that the Cardinal has a good chance of pulling out a victory on Friday, citing the benefits of a home court advantage.
“When we have these teams come into our stadium we feel like we can beat anybody,” he said. “The team is really determined to make a statement, so I think it’s a really great opportunity for us.”
Morrissey said that although the team is relatively young, they have been steadily improving throughout the season and are ready to put their new skills to the test against some of the nation’s best players.
“If we do the things that we are working on in practice, play with intensity and do the right things on the court, hopefully the result will take care of itself in the end,” he said. “I think we have a good few advantages. We just have to go out there and do it on the court.”
Following the match against USC, the Cardinal will play No. 4 UCLA at home on Saturday before a series of matches against No. 29 Washington and No. 42 Oregon on the road next weekend.
Though the Cardinal will face some of the toughest competition of the season during the next two weeks, Morrissey expressed confidence in the team’s chances of picking up victories.
“We feel good, we are ready to step up now against the big teams and show how hard we’ve worked and get the payoff from all the effort and time we’ve been putting in,” Morrissey said. “We feel ready, we’re prepared and, hopefully, all goes well.”