With the regular season in the books, Stanford men’s tennis (14-7, 4-3 Pac-12) will open its postseason on Wednesday in Ojai, California, taking on Arizona (9-16, 0-7) in the first round of the Pac-12 Championships.
The Cardinal enter the tournament as the fifth seed despite being the fifteenth-ranked team in the nation, a testament to the depth of the Pac-12 this year. Conference members UCLA, USC and Cal are all among the top 10, and Oregon holds the No. 21 ranking.
The Ducks jumped a couple of spots in the rankings following their 4-3 upset victory over Stanford last week. With both teams tied at 4-3 in conference play at the end of the season, that match wound up playing a pivotal role in tournament seedings. Oregon won the head-to-head tiebreak and, as a result, earned the fourth seed and a bye into the second round.
Meanwhile, the Cardinal will have to battle through Arizona and the Ojai heat in order to set up a rematch with the Ducks in the quarterfinals.
As the eighth seed, Arizona holds the worst record in the conference and has struggled to stay relevant amidst its competition this year. The Wildcats are one of just two teams (along with Utah) in the Pac-12 that does not feature a nationally ranked player in singles or doubles.
Stanford blanked Arizona 4-0 at home just over a month ago, winning all its matches in straight sets, and will look to replicate that performance in order to move on to the next round. Historically, the Cardinal have enjoyed huge success against the Wildcats, with a whopping 68-2 overall record. Arizona last beat Stanford in 2009 but has come up empty-handed in the teams’ eight meetings since.
Stanford will look to rely on its doubles play, which has been a phenomenal asset for the team all season. The Cardinal have won the doubles point in 14 of their 20 dual matches this season. Stanford’s top pairing of Tom Fawcett and Yale Goldberg are ranked No. 57 in the country, and Brandon Sutter and David Wilczynski own a solid 13-4 record playing mostly at the third spot.
In singles play, Stanford features No. 11 Tom Fawcett on Court 1, but the squad has depth throughout its six-man lineup. Junior Wilczynski has come into his own this season, owning a 16-3 dual match record and two Pac-12 Player of the Week Honors. Freshman William Genesen has also made the most of his recent insertion into the lineup and has rattled off six straight wins to close the regular season.
Play against the Wildcats begins on Wednesday at noon, with the winner facing Oregon on Thursday at noon in Ojai.
Contact Neel Ramachandran at neelr ‘at’ stanford.edu.