The No. 41 Stanford (1-0, 0-0 Pac-12) men’s tennis team opened its season campaign Tuesday at the Taube Family Tennis Stadium with a comfortable win over the Pacific Tigers (0-1, 0-0 Big West). The Cardinal opened the ledger with a very consistent team performance, winning the doubles point and five out of the six singles matches.
The contest was held under the new experimental NCAA rules, which got rid of ad scoring and reduced the doubles matches to one set in an effort to speed up the pace of play. While many coaches and players have stated their opposition to the changes, the changes will last until at least mid-February, at which time they will be reviewed. Rules changes aside, the Cardinal is happy to notch its first win of the season and one which sets them up nicely going into the Sherwood Cup this coming weekend.
The doubles matches started well for Stanford, with the No. 3 team of sophomores Anthony Tsodikov and Nolan Paige excelling in a comfortable 6-1 victory over Pacific’s juniors Alex Hamilton and Denis Stolyarov. Paige and Tsodikov showed some excellent passages of play, including one point wherein a beautiful backhand lob by Tsodikov was followed by a crisp drop volley by Paige to secure a break. The duo never looked in danger and will look to build on what was a very good opening performance that set the tone for the rest of the match.
The other two matches, however, were significantly closer. Stanford’s No. 1 team, made up of junior John Morrissey and sophomore Maciek Romanowicz, eked out a tight 6-4 victory over sophomores Daniel Alameh and Marlon Brand in a match that flowed back and forth. Brand, a Dutchman standing 6-foot-5, caused problems for the Cardinal duo with his serve. Eventually, they pulled through, with Romanowicz putting an exclamation point on the victory with a final ace.
This victory turned out to be crucial in securing the doubles point, as Stanford’s No. 2 group, senior Daniel Ho and junior Robert Stineman, were at that point losing 5-4 to the team of sophomore Sem Verbeek (ITA No. 105 in singles) and freshman Miguel Diaz. The Stanford duo, plagued by numerous unforced errors that allowed the game to slip away, surely must have been pleased to see its teammates help out in securing the point.
Point safely in hand, the Cardinal moved on to the singles, where it continued its serene progress. Tsodikov continued his fantastic start to the season with a comfortable 6-2, 6-0 victory over Hamilton from the No. 6 spot, with Hamilton seemingly having no answer for the lefthander’s somewhat unorthodox style.
Sophomore Trey Strobel then continued the accumulation of points at No. 5 with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Brand in what was a solid performance. Finally, victory was secured by Romanowicz –who had been locked in a very tight match with Stolyarov in the No. 3 spot—when he put away a final forehand, punching the air in delight. Victory was ensured, but the margin was still yet to be decided.
Next came Nolan Paige with a 6-5, 6-4 win over Diaz in the No. 4 slot, a victory that will help build his confidence going into the meat of the schedule.
Another impressive and gutsy performance came from Ho, a come-from-behind winner 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 over Alameh. The first set was marred by numerous unforced errors on the part of Ho, but he recovered and used his dangerous forehand and solid serve to wear down Alameh and seal the victory.
Finally, the marquee match: Stanford’s Morrissey went up against the dangerous Verbeek and started off superbly, winning the first set 6-4. However, he would eventually succumb in a 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 loss. The turning point came in the third set, when Morrissey lost four straight points and conceded a key break of serve. Result notwithstanding, there were a lot of positives to take from the performance.
Overall, the Cardinal will be pleased with a very strong team effort in a 6-1 victory and now turns its attention to the prestigious Sherwood Cup, held this weekend in Sherwood Oaks, Calif.
Contact Dylan Fugel at dfugel ‘at’ stanford.edu.