By Alexa Corse
No. 37 Stanford men’s tennis (6-6) snapped a five-match losing streak with a 4-1 victory over No. 30 Rice on Thursday in La Jolla, California.
Senior Maciek Romanowicz clinched Stanford’s victory with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Rice’s Emanuel Llamas at the No. 6 spot. Romanowicz followed his ninth career match-clinching point on Thursday with a weekend of impressive doubles play at the 127th Pacific Coast Doubles Championship. Romanowicz teamed up with sophomore Tom Fawcett to reach the finals of the tournament, where the Stanford duo fell 7-6 (1), 6-4 to No. 1 seed Julian Cash and Arjun Kadhe of Oklahoma State.
The win over Rice on Thursday brought Stanford’s record back to .500. Stanford recorded a 5-1 start to the season, but had fallen just short of victory in a series of tightly-contested matches against top-30 ranked teams, including four losses in which the final score was 4-3.
“We’ve had many close matches, but any of those could have gone our way,” Romanowicz said. “There was no match that anyone on the team thought we couldn’t win. We just kept working and kept believing that we could win.”
The match against Rice did not begin auspiciously for Stanford, as Rice clinched the doubles point with a 7-6 (4) victory over senior Nolan Paige and sophomore David Wilczynski at the No. 2 spot. Thursday marked the first time this season that Stanford has rallied to win a dual match after losing the doubles point, and the bottom half of the Cardinal’s singles lineup made the victory possible.
At the No. 5 spot, freshman Michael Genender put Stanford’s first point on the board with a quick 6-2, 6-1 win. Sophomore Tom Fawcett, the fourth-ranked singles player in the nation, defeated Jamie Malik 6-4, 6-0 on Court 1 to put Stanford ahead 2-1 in the dual match tally.
Next, freshman Sameer Kumar prevailed 7-5, 6-3 on Court 4, putting Stanford only one singles win away from victory. Romanowicz clinched the match for the Cardinal on Court 6, notching a critical win given that Stanford was embroiled in tightly contested matches on Courts 2 and 3, the remaining matches in play.
After defeating Rice on Thursday, Stanford players stayed in La Jolla to compete against players from 19 colleges as well as juniors, former ATP professionals and independent entrants in an 128-draw at the 127th Pacific Coast Doubles Championship, the second-oldest tennis event in the United States. Paige and Wilczynski had the second-best run of the five Stanford duos, reaching the round of 16 before falling 6-4, 6-3 to the same OSU duo that defeated Fawcett and Romanowicz in the finals. The finals run by Fawcett and Romanowicz bested their semifinal appearance in the same tournament last year.
After competing in six dual matches in a busy February schedule, Stanford has two weeks off from competition before hosting Nevada on Monday, March 21, at 10:30 a.m.
Stanford will look to extend the momentum from its latest victory, particularly as the team opens Pac-12 conference play with a match against the University of Arizona in Tucson on March 25.
“We approached the match [against Rice] like any other, and we got the win,” said Romanowicz about the team’s refusal to weaken mentally, despite suffering five nail-biting losses in February. “It’s just another step to reach our goals to play our best tennis in May [at the NCAA tournament].”
Contact Alexa Corse at corsea ‘at’ stanford.edu.