By Kit Ramgopal
Seven months of competitive play later, it is finally championship season for No. 32 Stanford men’s tennis. For the next five days, from Wednesday, April 20 to Sunday, April 24, Stanford men’s tennis will be moving into postseason competition in Ojai, California at the Pac-12 Championships.
The Cardinal ended their regular season last weekend, finishing with a 4-3 record in the Pac-12 and 13-9 record overall. Looking back on regular season play, the Cardinal statistics are a kaleidoscopic mix of resounding successes and heartbreaking losses, and the team will look to end on a high note at the Pac-12 Championships this week.
“This year has been challenging — we’ve had matches that could’ve gone either way, and unfortunately we couldn’t pull them our way … but we haven’t stopped believing that the score would eventually go in our favor,” reflected senior Maciek Romanowicz. “It’s challenging, but that’s sport — one team wins, another team loses. Hopefully, [in the postseason] we’ll be the team that wins those close matches.”
However, in head coach Paul Goldstein’s larger scheme of re-establishing the Cardinal tennis program as a national championship contender, the 2015-16 has been instrumental in building team strength from the bottom up.
“We’ve certainly had the opportunity for growth in that we’ve had to deal with a fair amount of challenging, difficult losses. To continue to work hard and maintain self-confidence in spite of that is a really good learning opportunity.”
There is no shortage of talent on this year’s team. Sophomore Tom Fawcett is consistently a presence on Stanford’s No.1 court in both the singles and doubles arenas, boasting a singles career record of 42-17. The doubles team of Fawcett and Romanowicz will look to continue add wins to their 10-6 overall record and redeem themselves a bit in light of their 1-4 mark against Pac-12 opponents in the regular season. Goldstein noted that freshmen such as Sameer Kumar and Michael Genender have also demonstrated a quick adherence to the intensity of college tennis.
Stanford is coming off of a loss to No. 16 Cal this past Saturday. In an unfortunate chapter in the ubiquitous rivalry, the team conceded a 4-1 victory to the Bears. Cal gained an early advantage by clinching the doubles point and continued on to sweep three of the top four singles courts.
This was the end of a three-match win streak for the Cardinal, who had previously bested No. 35 Oregon, No. 37 Washington and San Francisco. The Cardinal hope to ride their momentum from that prior streak into the Pac-12 championships, where they will most likely open up against Oregon. If they progress, they may quickly face opponents to whom they lost in the regular season, such as No. 2 UCLA.
For the team, the beautiful thing about the postseason is that at this point, anything can happen.
“It feels great to actually get into the postseason because this is when the real competition starts,” explains Romanowicz. “You have one opportunity to prove what you’re worth, which is what we’ve been training to do, to play our best come May. It’s the opportunity every athlete seeks.”
Follow the Cardinal Men in Ojai, California (which Coach Goldstein points out is home to excellent orange juice) through gostanford.com.
Contact Kit Ramgopal at kramgopa ‘at’ stanford.edu.