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Men’s, women’s tennis struggle in weekend conference matches

It was a tough weekend for Stanford tennis, as both the men’s and women’s teams faced USC and UCLA, and in the course of doing so, the men saw their six-match winning streak snapped and the women lost for the first time since before last year’s NCAA championship run.

For the No. 52 Stanford men (9-4, 2-2 Pac-12), the trouble began on Friday against No. 2 USC (21-2, 3-0 Pac-12) in Los Angeles, where they were swept 7-0 at Marks Stadium.

Senior Kristie Ahn (above)

Senior Kristie Ahn (above) is now 25-3 in singles play on the season after splitting her two matches against opponents from USC and UCLA. (LARRY GE/The Stanford Daily)

The doubles point narrowly went to USC, after the Trojans took the matches on courts two and three, 8-7 (7) and 8-6, respectively. And though junior John Morrissey put up a good fight against USC’s 12th-ranked Yannick Hanfmann, the Card ultimately lost all six singles matches in straight sets.

The weekend only worsened from there as Stanford faced No. 3 UCLA (17-2, 4-0 Pac-12) on Saturday afternoon, losing 4-0 in Westwood. After taking the doubles point with two 8-4 victories, the Bruins picked up three more singles points to claim the overall dual match.

On court two, No. 1 Clay Thompson delivered a loss to Stanford senior Daniel Ho, and the match wrapped up as Stanford sophomores Nolan Paige and Anthony Tsodikov fell in straight sets on courts four and five, respectively.

The two losses in Southern California mark the first time all season that the men’s squad has lost consecutive matches. With just three conference matches remaining this season, the Cardinal will look to rebuild some momentum in advance of the Pac-12 Tournament.

For the No. 4 Stanford women (14-1, 6-1 Pac-12), this critical weekend got off to a rocky start on Friday afternoon at the Taube Family Tennis Stadium, where No. 3 UCLA (18-2, 6-1 Pac-12) handed the squad its first loss of the season. Coming into the game, Stanford was the only remaining undefeated team in the country.

For the first time this season, the Cardinal lost the doubles point to start the match, despite the No. 10 duo of senior Kristie Ahn and freshman Carol Zhao downing UCLA’s No. 1 Robin Anderson and Jennifer Brady on the number one court.

From there, it was a battle all the way. No. 37 freshman Caroline Doyle and classmate No. 28 Zhao both picked up singles wins to put Stanford ahead 2-1. But the Bruins answered with wins over No. 27 freshman Taylor Davidson on court four and No. 2 Ahn on court one — only Ahn’s third loss of the season.

When junior No. 42 Ellen Tsay beat UCLA’s No. 55 Catherine Harrison on court five the match looked within reach, but the Bruins’ No. 16 Jennifer Brady edged Stanford’s No. 39 sophomore Krista Hardebeck 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 to eke out the team victory.

The Card’s fortunes improved on Saturday, however, when they bested No. 12 USC (14-6, 5-2 Pac-12) at home 4-0. Stanford went up 1-0 with the doubles point, then proceeded to get wins from Zhao, Doyle and finally Ahn to reach the required four points to take the match. Ahn leads the team with 25 victories this season, while Zhao has won 14 in a row and Doyle is on a 12-match winning streak.

Despite suffering their first loss of the season, the women are still in perfect playoff position with just three matches remaining in the regular season. Across the Bay, No. 13 Cal (14-4, 7-0 Pac-12) took down both UCLA and USC this weekend, vaulting the Bears into the Pac-12’s top spot with seven wins. Luckily, the Cardinal have already defeated Cal and will face their archrival again in their final match of the season.

For now, both the men and women must prepare for this coming weekend. The men will take on Washington and Oregon at home while the women face the same two teams in their final road matches of conference play.

The Stanford men next face Cal Poly on Tuesday, April 8, at Taube Stadium, and the women play Oregon in Eugene, Ore. on Friday, April 11.

Contact Fiona Noonan at fnoonan ‘at’ stanford.edu.