By Shan Reddy
In a heartbreaking loss to No. 5 Georgia (6-0) on Monday morning in the semifinals of the ITA National Team Indoor Championships, the No. 1 Stanford women’s tennis team’s 25-match winning streak dating back to Feb. 24, 2018 was finally broken. The Cardinal now has a season record of 5-1, and they had taken down No. 18 LSU (4-0) and No. 6 Texas (4-3) on Friday and Sunday in the first round and quarterfinals before falling to Georgia in the semifinals on Monday.
Meanwhile, the No. 4 Stanford men’s team rallied back from a 3-1 deficit to take down the No. 5 USC Trojans 4-3 on Friday as senior captain Sameer Kumar delivered the clincher in a three-set thriller. The team was scheduled to play No. 7 UCLA on Saturday in Los Angeles, but the match was canceled due to rain.
The women’s team spent the weekend in Seattle competing in an annual tournament featuring 16 of the nation’s top collegiate tennis teams, including each of the top eight teams in the Division 1 rankings.
The Cardinal got off to a rough start when their top ranked player, No. 14 junior Emily Arbuthnott, lost to No. 58 Vivian Wolff after winning her last 12 consecutive matches on the season. Arbuthnott rallied back in doubles, however, teaming up with No. 23 sophomore Michaela Gordon to take down Elena Christofi and Morgan Coppoc (7-5) to grab one of the team’s three match wins on the day.
After taking the first set, Gordon struggled to keep pace with No. 2 Katarina Jokic, ultimately falling to the Serbian sophomore (4-6, 6-1, 6-3). Jokic is also an active player on the Women’s Tennis Association and International Tennis Federation circuits, currently ranked No. 604 internationally in singles.
Stanford’s senior duo of Caroline Lampl and Kimberly Yee defeated Lourdes Carle and Wolff (6-3) in doubles to bring the score back to 3-3 for the team before Gordon fell to Jokic in the contest’s deciding match. It was a bitter loss for the Cardinal, but also an eye-opening one as the team looks to evaluate its weaknesses and make adjustments in preparation for the rest of the season.
Despite being rained out on Saturday, the men’s team certainly had a brighter weekend, grabbing its first win over a top-five-ranked opponent since last February.
First off the court was senior Michael Geneder, who took down USC freshman Jake Sands in straight sets (6-0, 6-2) to give the Cardinal a 1-0 lead. But when the team’s top singles player – No. 10 Axel Geller – and top freshman – No. 61 Alexandre Rotsaert – both dropped their opening matches, the situation looked bleak for the Cardinal.
Down 3-1, the team mounted an impressive comeback, taking three straight tightly-contested matches to secure the win for Stanford. Freshman Sangeet Sridhar took a first-set tiebreaker before capturing the second set (7-6, 6-4). Next, junior William Genesen rallied back from a first set loss to win in three (3-6, 6-4, 6-2).
With the score tied up at 3-3, senior captain No. 43 Sameer Kumar delivered an iconic performance in a three-set thriller that had the entire stadium at the edge of their seats. A spring addition to the Trojan roster, freshman Mor Bulis transferred to USC after winning two doubles and one singles Futures titles in Israel. Bulis took a hard-fought first set 5-7 before Kumar battled back to take the second set 7-5. As both teams looked on, the senior locked in and earned a 6-3 third set win to clinch the victory for the Cardinal.
The men’s team heads to Chicago this weekend for the ITA National Team Indoor Championships. Though the official draws have not yet been announced, the road ahead certainly will not get easier for the Cardinal as they go on to face some of the top teams in the nation in the tournament beginning this Friday.
Contact Shan Reddy at rsreddy ‘at’ stanford.edu.