By Alexa Corse
USC men’s tennis outlasted Stanford 5-2, dealing the No. 29 Cardinal (5-5) their fourth consecutive loss on Friday afternoon at Taube Family Tennis Stadium.
The loss to the No. 13 Trojans (7-2) marks yet another match in which Stanford has kept its hopes alive until the very end, only to fall short. That count includes three nail-biting 3-4 losses that Stanford has suffered in the last month. Stanford has less than twenty-four hours to recover before facing No. 4 UCLA (8-2) on Saturday at Taube.
Senior Nolan Paige and sophomore David Wilczynski helped Stanford clinch the doubles point with a 6-3 victory on Court 2, but USC first dealt junior Yale Goldberg and freshman Sameer Kumar a 6-2 loss on Court 3.
The deciding doubles match fell to Court 1, where senior Maciek Romanowicz and sophomore Tom Fawcett had rallied from 1-3 to 4-4.
With USC serving at 40-30, Romanowicz blasted a backhand which bounced on top of and over the net and sneaked in between both USC players at the net. Fawcett found the same luck on the following point at deuce, as his backhand tipped over the net cord to put Stanford up 5-4.
Fawcett held his serve to claim the match 6-4, and put Stanford up 1-0 going into singles play.
The Trojans seized the momentum in singles, however, and claimed the first sets in five of six matches. Wilczynski, ranked 48th nationally, suffered a 6-3, 6-1 loss on Court 2, but the Cardinal staged a rebound in the lower half of the lineup.
On Courts 4-6, Stanford players claimed the second set despite losing the first. On Court 5, 114th-ranked Romanowicz led charge as the first Cardinal player to split sets.
The intense competition kept the Stanford “Parents Weekend” crowd engaged, and inspired some heckling from the Trojan bench.
“[We had] really good energy for that stretch in the second set on the back courts,” said head coach Paul Goldstein. “I told the guys, ‘I’m really proud of that effort.’”
With the home crowd watching to see whether Kumar, ranked 88th in the country, could keep Stanford’s hopes alive, the freshman turned an on-the-run, stretching forehand into a perfect lob over USC’s Jake DeVine on set point in the tiebreaker. However, Kumar could not bring the same intensity in the third, as No. 92 DeVine triumphed 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-1.
No. 102 Paige fell in a tightly contested match 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 against No. 56 Logan Smith of USC.
“I started off really strong,” Paige said. “[Smith] did a good job of staying aggressive. But I tried my hardest, did my best so there are definitely some positives to take out of the match.”
In only his second dual match this season, junior Brandon Sutter fell in three sets, 6-1, 5-7, 6-3 on Court 6, which gave USC the clinching fourth point of the dual match. Sutter assumed the No. 6 spot from freshman Michael Genender, who suffered a hard-fought three-set loss in the deciding singles match against Cal last Saturday.
“We put Brandon out there against a really good team,” said Goldstein. “It was an opportunity well-earned [because of] his attitude, his effort since he’s been at Stanford.”
On Court 1, No. 4 Fawcett suffered his first loss of the dual match season against No. 65 Max de Vroome. The gritty three-set match finished 7-5, 4-6, 6-2 in Vroome’s favor.
Romanowicz provided a silver lining for Stanford on Court 5, battling to a 1-6, 6-2 7-6 (8) win over the Trojans’ Jack Jaede as the last match on court.
The loss to USC does not count for Pac-12 conference standings, and the rematch on April 2 at USC will be counted instead.
Stanford next hosts No. 4 UCLA on Saturday at 1 p.m.
Contact Alexa Corse at corsea ‘at’ stanford.edu.