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Men’s tennis cruises past Saint Mary’s for fourth consecutive win

Coming off an emotional weekend in which the No. 37 Stanford Cardinal men’s tennis team (13-4, 4-2 Pac-12) first squeaked past Washington 4-3 in a highly charged match that came down to a final tiebreaker and then defeated No. 39 Oregon on Senior Day, the Cardinal took to their home court one final time this season on Tuesday. The match against St. Mary’s (8-10, 3-4 WCC) put their three-match winning streak on the line. Stanford again rose to the occasion to extend that streak to four, cruising to a 4-0 victory over the Gaels.

(Tri Nguyen/TriNguyenPhotography.com)

Senior Daniel Ho (above) had a fantastic day in his final appearance at Taube Family Tennis Stadium, helping pace the Cardinal’s number-one doubles squad to a hard-fought win before easily winning his singles match, 6-2, 6-1. (Tri Nguyen/TriNguyenPhotography.com)

“These kinds of matches can be trap matches,” said head coach John Whitlinger. “You have a big Pac-12 weekend with pretty significant wins to keep our place in the conference standings, and then Cal coming up. You can tend to forget about a St. Mary’s or any team that’s in this match. Everybody’s good nowadays…Men’s tennis is so deep now team-wise, you’d better take care of business.”

After dropping the doubles point in both matches over the weekend, the Cardinal continued to meet stiff competition in the pairings to open the match against the Gaels. The matches on all three courts were characterized by an inability for any duo to pull ahead without its opponent fighting back. Seemingly every game stretched to deuce, and frustrations on errors and adrenaline on key points was evident on both sides throughout.

Senior Daniel Ho and junior Robert Stineman on court one played a very back-and-forth match with their opponents, senior Joakim Norstrom and sophomore Thomas Alexander Hunt, with neither pair taking a lead of more than two games at any point. Ho and Stineman did a great job defending their serve, as they were only broken once and took advantage of a key break with the match tied at 5-5 to pull ahead for good and eventually triumph 8-6.

Meanwhile, there were fierce battles on both courts two and three as well. On court two, the duo of junior John Morrissey and senior Jamin Ball jumped out to an early 4-1 lead before allowing the very vocal pair from St. Mary’s to fight back to make it 4-3. However, Morrissey and Ball maintained their lead throughout the match and eventually prevailed 8-5, cutting short the closest battle of the doubles matchups on court three, where freshman Yale Goldberg and sophomore Trey Strobel were in the midst of a 7-7 tiebreaker after having trailed for most of the match before fighting back at the end.

With the Cardinal having taken the doubles point to pull ahead 1-0 in the team score, they didn’t skip a beat moving into the singles matches. All six Stanford players won their first sets, including by 6-2 and 6-1 efforts from Ho and Stineman, respectively, after their big doubles win. Ho would go on to dominate the second set, cruising to a 6-1 win over a visibly agitated Hunt and giving Stanford a 2-0 team advantage. It was the second consecutive win for Ho, who snapped an eight-match losing streak with his three-set win over Oregon on Saturday.

“I’m glad Danny has turned it around a little bit,” Whitlinger said. “He’s played some really tough matches that have been really close. He just hasn’t gotten W’s, but the last couple he has; it’s nice to see that.”

On courts one, four and five, meanwhile, Morrissey, sophomore Nolan Paige and sophomore Anthony Tsodikov, respectively, all played lengthy first sets but prevailed, with Paige going the distance in dominating the tiebreak to put the Cardinal in prime position to take the win.

After starting slowly and gaining steam throughout the first set, Tsodikov, the hero of Friday’s marathon win against Washington, plowed through his second set with an impressive 6-1 win to give Stanford its third team point with Morrissey up 3-1 in his second set on court one and Stineman up 2-0 in his third set on court six.

Morrissey, Stineman, Strobel and Paige were all on the cusp of pulling off the final singles victory of the matchup, with all of them already having won five games in what would all have been decisive sets. It was ultimately Stineman who finished first with a 6-1, 3-6, 6-0 victory capped off by a dominant and efficient final set to end the match. Morrissey had also been engaged in an all-out battle on court one with Tuomas Manner of St. Mary’s throughout the afternoon, bouncing back from a relatively slow start to methodically win the first set and snag a big lead in the second set. Increasing the drama, he let that lead slide at the end before being cut short with victory in sight.

“[It was] tremendous. They’ve been doing it all year,” Whitlinger said. “I thought it was a great effort. And you know, there were some tight matches out there. We looked like we were in command of all of them at the end, but sometimes you can have that letdown. And this team hasn’t had it. I’ve been really proud of all that.”

The team will get a day off tomorrow before getting ready for a huge conference match to close out the season against No. 16 Cal at Berkeley. The last time the two teams met was in late February on the Farm, when then-No. 9 Cal swept Stanford 7-0. The Cardinal will be looking to avenge that defeat with their end-of-season momentum spurring them on.

Contact Do-Hyoung Park at dpark027 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

About Do-Hyoung Park

Do-Hyoung Park is the Head Copy Editor at The Stanford Daily. Even though he is finally able to get into R-rated movies now, he instead chooses to spend his time writing half the sports section every week. Do-Hyoung is a sophomore originally from Seoul, South Korea and raised in Saint Paul, Minnesota pursuing a major in chemical engineering. To contact him, please email him at dpark027 'at' stanford.edu.