By Alexa Corse
No. 29 Stanford men’s tennis (5-6) fell 4-3 to No. 4 UCLA (9-2) on Saturday at Taube Tennis Stadium, extending a string of nail-biting losses to top-30 teams.
Stanford suffered its fifth consecutive loss, and its fourth in which the final score was 4-3. The Bruins’ victory does not count for Pac-12 conference standings, and the rematch on April 1 in Los Angeles will count instead.
Stanford upset the Bruins in doubles to take an early 1-0 lead, but the Bruins rebounded to claim four singles matches.
“I told the guys, ‘We just can’t seem to get our offense, defense and special teams going all at the same time,’” said head coach Paul Goldstein of the team’s struggle to display consistency and collect the four points needed from throughout the lineup in order to clinch a dual match victory.
Stanford clinched the doubles point with a 6-4 win by sophomore David Wilczynski and senior Nolan Paige on Court 2, after junior Yale Goldberg and freshman Sameer Kumar claimed Stanford’s first doubles victory on Court 3.
UCLA and Stanford were even after the first sets in singles matches, with Stanford having taken the first on Courts 2, 3, and 6.
No. 88 freshman Sameer Kumar was the first to fall for Stanford, losing to the Bruins’ No. 94 Karue Sell 6-2, 6-2 on Court 4 to tie the dual match at 1-1.
On Court 2, No. 48 Wilcynski fell 3-6, 6-1, 6-1 to the Bruins’ 6-foot-5 Martin Redlicki, a hard-hitting, big-serving player ranked 36th in the country. Wilcynski ground through long points and handled Redlicki’s powerful serve in the first set, but was unable to maintain the exhausting style of play needed to beat his opponent.
The situation was reversed on Court 1, as Stanford’s own 6-foot-5 hard-hitter squared off against a smaller player known for his all-around ground game. No. 4 Fawcett fell 3-6, 5-7 to the Bruins’ talented Mackenzie McDonald, who is ranked 19th among college players and 378th on the men’s professional ATP circuit.
Paige claimed a 7-5, 6-4 win for Stanford on Court 3, and freshman Michael Genender tied the dual match at 3-3 with a 6-1, 6-4 win on Court 6. Genender shone with aggressive groundstrokes in his return to the lineup after losing a three-set heartbreaker in the deciding match of Cal’s 4-3 victory last week. Genender did not play against USC on Friday, when junior Brandon Sutter assumed the No. 6 spot and suffered a three-set loss of his own.
“Nolan and Michael, who have really had challenges so far this year, had their best day today,” Goldstein said. “We have other guys who have been phenomenal for us pretty consistently, but none of them had their day today.”
The deciding point fell to Court 5, where senior Maciek Romanowicz was down 4-6, 4-3 but still on serve. At 0-40, Romanowicz served and volleyed but could not return a well-placed, high passing shot by the Bruins’ Logan Staggs. Staggs held his serve to win 6-4, 6-3 and clinch the 4-3 victory for UCLA.
Stanford has six nationally-ranked singles players, and is tied with No. 13 USC for the most ranked players in its lineup in the nation.
While the Cardinal’s inexperienced lineup — four out of six of the team’s regular starters are underclassmen — has struggled to clinch victories, the squad will look to convert their talent into points on the board in the latter half of the season, when Pac-12 conference play begins.
“I feel so bad for the guys,” said Goldstein. “In everyone one of the matches, we have chances. It’s a testament to the guys, they keep working very hard.”
Stanford next travels to La Jolla, California, for the Pacific Coast Men’s Doubles Championship and a dual match against Rice University over March 3-6.
Contact Alexa Corse at corsea ‘at’ stanford.edu.