By Alexa Corse
The No. 18 Stanford men’s tennis team (3-1) competed closely against well-matched opponents at the ITA Kick-Off Weekend in Flushing Meadows, New York on Sunday and Monday, while at home the No. 8 women’s team opened its season by sweeping Santa Clara on Monday afternoon.
The massive snowstorm which struck the East Coast on Friday delayed the start of play at the ITA Kick-Off Weekend, which was originally set for Saturday. When play began on Sunday, the Cardinal men imposed their will on No. 14 Virginia Tech. Stanford swept the higher-ranked Virginia Tech, clinching the doubles point and three singles matches, but would go on to suffer its first loss of the season the following day in a closely contested 4-3 loss against No. 16 Columbia.
Sophomore Tom Fawcett and freshman Sameer Kumar went undefeated in their doubles and singles matches over the weekend, beginning with a 7-6 (7-5) doubles victory against Virginia Tech. Seniors Maciek Romanowicz and Nolan Paige secured Stanford’s final doubles win over Virginia Tech with a final score of 7-6 (7-3).
Paige clinched the Cardinal’s first win (6-3, 6-4) at the No. 4 spot, followed by Kumar with a 6-1, 7-5 win at the No. 6 spot. Fawcett, ranked ninth in the nation, clinched the Cardinal’s victory with a 6-1, 6-4 win at the No. 1 spot.
The remaining doubles matches on Sunday were left unfinished. Sophomore David Wilczynski, ranked 57th nationally, played at the No. 2 spot (7-5, 1-1). No. 89 Romanowicz followed at the No. 3 spot (6-3, 5-1) and freshman Michael Genender was the Cardinal’s fifth player.
On Monday, Stanford took the doubles point against Columbia after Fawcett and Kumar won 7-4 against the No. 26 doubles team in the nation. Junior Yale Goldberg and Wilczynski won 7-2 at the No. 3 spot.
Paige fell to Mike Vermeer, 6-4, 6-0, at the No. 4 spot. Fawcett returned the lead to Stanford with a 6-2, 6-2 win at the No. 1 singles spot. At the No. 6 spot Kumar clinched Stanford’s second and final singles victory of the day with a score of 6-4, 6-4.
Genender fell 6-3, 6-4 at the No. 5 spot and the score became tied after Romanowicz, ranked 89th in the nation, lost 4-6, 6-4, 6-2. Columbia triumphed when Wilczynski fell 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-3) in a lengthy three-set battle.
The Cardinal women dominated Santa Clara on Monday afternoon despite the absence of 2015 NCAA runner-up Carol Zhao, who is training with the Canadian National Team and competing on the professional circuit this winter. Zhao is expected to return to collegiate play in late March or early April.
In the Cardinal’s first win of the day, freshmen Melissa Lord and Kimberly Yee quickly dispatched their opponents in a 6-1 win at the No. 2 doubles spot.
Juniors Taylor Davidson and Caroline Doyle followed with a 6-2 win at the No. 1 spot. Davidson and Doyle have shot up the rankings to become the No. 10 doubles team in the nation. The duo has collected three doubles titles since its first tournament together at the USTA/ITA Northwest Regional Championships in October.
Davidson and Doyle first suggested that they play together, said head coach Lele Forood. Early in the fall, the women’s team was experimenting with its lineup to adjust to Zhao’s absence and the addition of five freshmen.
“It was a very late decision,” Forood said. “We thought, ‘Well, anything is open [regarding the roster].’”
As the No. 3 doubles team on Monday, senior Krista Hardebeck and freshman Caroline Lampl secured a lead but left their match unfinished after Stanford’s No. 1 and No. 2 doubles teams clinched the doubles point.
In singles, No. 20 Davidson jumped to a 3-0 lead in under 10 minutes as Stanford’s No. 1 player. Davidson continued to overpower Santa Clara’s Madison Clarke 6-0, 6-0 as the first singles match to finish.
Yee was nearly as dominant at the No. 6 spot, overcoming Elizabeth Stephens 6-1, 6-0 to clinch the Cardinal’s second singles win of the day.
Doyle’s first few games against Chelby Cooke were marked by long rallies that had both girls chasing down shots across the court. After No. 39 Doyle went up 3-2 in the first set, however, she was unstoppable. Doyle did not drop another game as she won 6-2, 6-0 and clinched the match for Stanford for the 10th time in her college career.
Hardebeck’s forceful groundstrokes carried her to a 6-2, 6-1 win over Daniella Silva and Lampl followed with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Zeina El Tawil.
The women’s team gathered on the adjacent court to cheer on freshman Melissa Lord, who prevailed 6-4 in an almost hour-long first set. Lord dominated in the second set and finished with a final score of 6-4, 6-0.
“There are plenty of challenges this winter,” Forood said. “This is about competing and doing what we can do with a pretty strong team, even without Carol involved right now. These first three months are mostly about the freshmen getting experience.”
The Cardinal women travel to Nashville, Tennessee later this week to face off against No. 25 Mississippi and defending NCAA Champion Vanderbilt, who enters the 2016 season ranked No. 1. The Cardinal men host San Diego State on Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Broadway Tennis Center in Burlingame, California.