The No. 49 Stanford men’s tennis team suffered a 1-6 loss against No. 2 USC at home on Friday in the Cardinal’s first official Pac-12 match of the season.
The Cardinal dropped to 7-6, while the Trojans, reigning national champions, have lost only two of their 20 matches this year.
Stanford started strong against USC, taking the doubles point. Though freshman Maciek Romanowicz and sophomore Robert Stineman lost the first match at No. 2 doubles 0-8, the loss was followed by victories at No. 1 and No. 3 doubles.
“Robert and I didn’t play as well today in doubles, so we lost our doubles match, but fortunately our teammates stood up to the occasion,” Romanowicz said. “For us, winning the doubles point had a lot of significance and it really gave us a lot of energy going into singles.”
At No. 1 doubles, sophomore John Morrissey and senior Denis Lin decisively defeated USC’s Yannick Hanfmann and Ray Sarmiento, 8-3. Freshmen Nolan Paige and Trey Strobel pulled out a 8-5 victory over Michael Grant and Eric Johnson at No. 3 doubles.
The Cardinal’s lead faltered with the start of the singles matches. USC won six successive singles points, clinching the match.
“We went on the courts with lots of energy, and we won the doubles point because of the energy we had,” Romanowicz said. “We tried to capitalize on it in singles and we really fought hard. Unfortunately, we fell short.”
Morrissey lost 6-4, 6-1 to USC’s Emilio Gomez at No. 1 singles, the first match to finish. Paige was next to finish, losing 6-4, 6-1 to Ray Sarmiento at No. 2 singles, followed by junior Daniel Ho losing 6-4, 6-1 to Eric Johnson at No. 5 singles and Strobel losing 7-6, 6-3 to Jonny Wang at No. 6 singles.
At No. 4 singles, sophomore Robert Stineman lost 6-4, 7-6 to Roberto Quiroz. Romanowicz, who played No. 3 singles, was the last to finish, losing to Yannick Hanfmann 3-6, 6-3, 4-6.
“In singles, I was really close, I went to three sets against a really good opponent,” Romanowicz said. “I had my chances in the first set, it was really tied, but unfortunately I got broken in the last game.”
Stanford suffered a defeat by the same margin in their last battle against USC on Feb. 9 in Los Angeles, where the team’s only victory came from freshman Trey Strobel at No. 4 singles.
However, Romanowicz said that the team’s performance reflected an improvement from the February match, where they dropped the doubles point “really easily” and lost almost all of the singles matches in straight sets.
“Today, in singles, all of them were really close, there were a couple of tiebreaks, there was one three-setter,” Romanowicz said. “They were really close matches.”
The team will play No. 4 UCLA tomorrow at home before facing off against No. 29 Oregon and No. 42 Washington on the road next weekend.
Stanford last played UCLA on Feb. 8 in Los Angeles, suffering a 7-0 loss. Several singles matches were close, with freshmen Maciek Romanowicz and Nolan Paige and sophomore Robert Stineman losing three set matches at No. 3, No. 4 and No. 6 singles, respectively.
The No. 1 and No. 5 singles matches were also close, with sophomore John Morrissey and freshman Trey Strobel bringing their matches to second set tiebreaks.
Romanowicz expressed confidence about the Cardinal’s chances against UCLA, and said he hopes the team’s improvement will make a difference in some of the closer matches.
“I’m pretty sure we have gotten a lot better since February,” Romanowicz said. “We are very positive going into tomorrow’s match against UCLA.”