Despite being ranked second in the conference and fourth in the nation, Stanford men’s tennis (21-3, 7-1) lost 0-4 on Friday to No. 12 USC (17-8, 6-2) in the Pac-12 championship semifinals in Ojai, California following a difficult 4-2 win against Washington (13-13, 2-6) in the Thursday quarterfinals.
The championship loss marks the Cardinal’s sixth appearance in the conference semifinals but fourth tournament loss in as as many years, a bump in the road to the upcoming NCAA championships.
Facing Washington on Thursday, No. 37 juniors Sameer Kumar and Michael Genender, No. 24 senior Tom Fawcett and freshman Axel Geller, and graduate student Eric Fomba and sophomore David Wilcynski all claimed their doubles matches with three point leads.
Armed with the category point, the Cardinal entered the singles round and soon surrendered two points in the top two positions. In uncharacteristic defeats, No. 9 Fawcett and No. 74 Geller each lost their first two sets to lower ranked players.
Trailing 1-2, No. 92 Kumar delivered a tense and hard fought win in the third position, scoring 6-3, 4-6, 3-3. Fomba, Wilcynski and Genender all followed with easily swung two setters, earning the Cardinal three points overall and bringing the match score to a 4-2 victory.
In the Friday semifinals, Stanford was swept for the second time this year after securing just one doubles and one singles win, and no match points, even though the Cardinal had ably defeated USC twice in the regular season.
Although reliable Fomba and Wilcynski were ahead in the third doubles position, it wasn’t enough to offset quick losses in the top two spots. Nationally ranked pairs Fawcett and Geller, typical headliners, and Kumar and Genender both fell to powerful duos with top ten rankings.
In singles, No. 9 Fawcett claimed a vengeful 6-1, 2-6, 2-5 win in the first position against No. 11 Brandon Holt, who defeated him in doubles play. Although Fomba and Genender led the first games of their unfinished matches, they could not offset Gellar, Kumar and Wilcynski’s two-set losses, and the Cardinal was unable to claim a point.
Stanford next competes on May 12th and 13th in the first two rounds of the NCAA championships, with the location yet to be determined. Pending qualification, the Cardinal will face off in the final championships and final competition of the year from May 17th-28th in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Contact Sylvie Ashford at sylviash ‘at’ stanford.edu