Beginning last Wednesday, the Stanford men’s and women’s tennis teams faced off with their Pac-12 foes in Ojai, California at the 2019 Pac-12 Tennis Championships.
For the fourth year in a row, Stanford women’s tennis left the Pac-12 Tennis Championships boasting the title of “champions.” The one-seed women’s team (22-1, 10-0 Pac 12) defeated two-seed UCLA (18-7, 8-2) in a 4-2 victory on Saturday with junior Emily Arbuthnott clinching the win for the Cardinal.
Meanwhile, the three-seed Stanford men’s team (17-6, 5-3) fought to a first round 4-3 victory over Arizona (17-6, 3-5) before falling 4-2 to two-seed USC (20-7, 7-1) in the semifinals on Friday. Earlier this season, the No. 14 Cardinal defeated No. 8 USC 4-3 in Los Angeles, but unfortunately could not replicate that victory in Ojai.
With Thursday being the first day of play for both Stanford teams, the women’s team kicked off Cardinal action with a 4-0 win over nine-seed Washington State. Stanford picked up the doubles point thanks to victories from pairs No. 51 Melissa Lord/Niluka Madurawe and No. 22 Emily Arbuthnott/Michaela Gordon. Senior No. 68 Caroline Lampl, sophomore Janice Shin and junior No. 88 Emma Higuchi all acquired singles victories to help the Cardinal coast to the Pac-12 semifinals and their 13th shutout win of the season.
Like the men’s team, Stanford women faced USC in Friday’s semifinal, though the women’s team came out on top with another 4-0 shutout win. With doubles points once again coming from Lord/Madurawe and Arbuthnott/Gordon, triumphs on the singles courts from Lampl, Arbuthnott and Shin sealed the deal. Shin clinched the victory over the Trojans with a defeat of Becca Weissmann (6-3, 6-4), putting the Cardinal in position to once again battle for the Pac-12 Championship.
Mirroring the last four matchups between Stanford and UCLA, the Cardinal failed to secure the doubles point in the Saturday championship, with Lord/Madurawe and No. 14 Lampl/Yee falling to UCLA duos No. 48 Abi Altick/Taylor Johnson and No. 4 Gabby Andrews/Ayan Broomfield, respectively. When the teams last met on March 29, Lord/Madurawe cruised to a 6-1 doubles victory, though a win from No. 12 Elysia Bolton/Jada Hart over Stanford’s Arbuthnott/Gordon helped UCLA once again secure doubles supremacy over the Cardinal.
Though the Bruins swept the two doubles matches, Stanford swept all four singles matches. Lord defeated No. 29 Elysia Boulton (7-5, 6-3) and Gordon took down No. 42 Jada Hart (6-4, 6-4), sparking a stylish comeback before Arbuthnott put the finishing touches on the championship weekend with the clinching win over Alaina Miller (6-1, 6-7, 6-0). As if a fourth-consecutive Pac-12 title wasn’t enough, the victory extended Stanford’s impressive winning streak to 17 matches in a row.
After splitting their past two meetings with USC this season, the Stanford men’s team fell to the No. 8 Trojans on Friday evening in the Pac-12 Championships at Libbey Park. Junior William Genesen provided the clincher of against the Wildcats in the team’s previous match — the tournament quarterfinals against Arizona — storming back to a three-set victory against Igor Karpovets (2-6, 6-4, 6-4) after dropping the first set.
“[Karpovets] came out on fire,” said Genesen after the match. “I felt like everything was going his way. But I was talking to coach and trying to stay in the match and be more aggressive and I was able to do that to start off the second set. I was able to push him back and get him out of his rhythm and open the door to work myself back in there.”
Back in February, the Cardinal defeated USC in Los Angeles (4-3) in a tightly contested match that came down to a three-set comeback doubles win by senior captain Sameer Kumar. The Trojans upset the Cardinal a few weeks later at Taube, heading back to SoCal with a commanding 4-1 win.
The Trojans were riding a five-game win streak coming into the match, and used that momentum to send the Cardinal home. They surged to a 3-0 lead before Stanford closed the gap with back-to-back singles wins as freshman Sangeet Sridhar defeated Mor Bulis (6-4, 6-4) and Genesen upset No. 27 Laurens Verboven (6-4, 6-3). With the score at 3-2, sophomore No. 20 Daniel Cuikerman clinched it for the Trojans, taking down freshman No. 55 Alexandre Rotsaert, who fought until the very end in a tense second-set tiebreak (6-3, 7-6).
USC would go on to claim their fourth Pac-12 men’s tennis title, blanking No. 33 California (4-0) on Saturday.
Both teams return next weekend for the season’s final competition: the D1 NCAA Tennis Championships. Official draws for the tournament will be announced April 30.
Contact Savanna Stewart at savnstew ‘at’ stanford.edu and Shan Reddy at rsreddy ‘at’ stanford.edu.