By Alexa Corse
The No. 17 Stanford men’s tennis team (4-1) swept No. 38 San Diego State University (1-3) at the recently-opened Broadway Tennis Center in Burlingame, California, on Saturday. Stanford quickly gained the momentum thanks to early victories from the lower half of the doubles and singles lineups, and never slackened to claim an easy 7-0 victory over the Aztecs.
Stanford’s dominant win comes on the heels of a nail-biting 3-4 loss to No. 15 Columbia on Monday, in the finals of the qualifying tournament for the National Team Indoor Championships. This newfound momentum from the victory will be particularly important as it prepares for two challenging matches next week against No. 3 TCU and No. 26 Texas on the road.
Sophomore David Wilczynski and junior Yale Goldberg provided the first indication that the day would be Stanford’s to relish during the doubles matches. The duo bounced back from a disappointing 7-2 loss against Columbia and overpowered its SDSU opponents at the No. 3 doubles spot, winning 6-0 in just 20 minutes. Stanford went on to clinch the doubles point when sophomore Tom Fawcett and freshman Sameer Kumar won 6-3 at the No. 2 spot.
Freshman Michael Genender ensured that Stanford’s momentum continued to build during singles play and claimed the Cardinal’s first victory (6-1, 6-0) at the No. 6 spot. Genender, ranked 61st nationally, had previously suffered a disappointing 6-3, 6-4 loss to Columbia’s Richard Pham on Monday.
Genender said he worked hard over the week so he could bounce back from his loss. On Saturday, he arrived ready to win.
“I came out really aggressive at the beginning, which is key,” Genender said. “I built off the energy from doubles.”
Shortly after Genender finished, senior Nolan Paige notched a quick final tally of 6-2, 6-1 at the No. 3 spot to put Stanford up 3-0 in the early goings.
Stanford needed one more win to clinch the match, and Fawcett, ranked ninth nationally, was about to deliver at the No. 1 spot. Fawcett unleashed an ace at 5-2 in the second set, earning the clinching point of a match for the third time in his career with a final score of 6-3, 6-2 over No. 53 Freddy Gelbrich.
Fawcett and Kumar remained undefeated in dual matches this season — both singles and doubles — as Kumar won 6-3, 6-1 at the No. 5 spot. Senior Maciek Romanowicz, ranked 89th nationally, followed with a 6-1, 6-2 win as Stanford’s No. 4 player.
The last match on court was between No. 57 Wilczynski and San Diego State’s Milen Ianakiev at the No. 2 spot. After winning the first set 6-4, Wilczynski was down one break at 3-5 in the second set when all eyes turned on him. Wilczynski was broken a second time to lose the second set 3-6.
The players had only a few moments to sit on the courtside benches and check in with coaches before beginning a 10-point tiebreaker for the third set, but that brief rest was all Wilczynski needed to regain control. With Ianakiev serving to start the tiebreak, Wilczynski slammed an overhead winner to go up 1-0. Wilczynski ran with the momentum to win the tiebreak 10-1, as teammates, alumni and local fans cheered him on.
“The thing I feel best about is the last five minutes of that match,” said head coach Paul Goldstein. “Not only the way David found himself in the tiebreak, playing the best tennis he’s played since the fall, but to see every member of our team supporting David even though the result didn’t necessarily matter [to the dual match]. That’s what warms my heart.”
Following the loss to Columbia, Goldstein reminded his players of another team who had suffered an early-season loss: Stanford football. (The Cardinal football team, of course, won the Rose Bowl in dominant fashion, 45-16, despite taking a tough 16-6 loss to Northwestern to begin the season).
“We can still accomplish everything we want to this year, despite a loss early in this season,” Goldstein said. “We have to look no further than Coach Shaw and the Stanford football team.”
Stanford hosts Santa Clara on Tuesday at 3 p.m., before traveling to Texas this weekend.
Contact Alexa Corse at corsea ‘at’ stanford.edu.