By Shan Reddy
After a convincing shutout win over Fresno State (18-11, 5-2 Mountain West) on Friday afternoon that saw senior captain Sameer Kumar and sophomore Timothy Sah combine for three of the Cardinal’s four match wins on the day, the No. 12 Stanford men’s tennis team (19-6, 5-3 Pac-12) blanked UC Santa Barbara (17-7, 5-0 Big West) to advance to the Round of 16. Meanwhile, the No. 3 Stanford women’s team (24-1, 10-0 Pac-12) grabbed back-to-back victories over the weekend, shutting out New Mexico State (15-10, 3-2 WAC) on Saturday before taking down No. 31 Syracuse (14-13, 5-9 ACC) with a score of 4-1 to advance.
Despite the Gaucho’s seven-game winning streak, the Cardinal had no trouble sending them packing. Stanford’s men’s tennis team has never lost to UCSB in program history, sporting a 12-0 record against the Gauchos.
“I am happy for this entire team who have busted their tails all year,” head coach Paul Goldstein said. “Like any team, like any season, there’s a tremendous amount of ups and downs and adversity, but you’re always trying to peak for this time of year. That’s what this team did this year, in particular after getting over the hump of last year and being in a similar situation and not coming through.
The duo of sophomore No. 13 Axel Geller and No. 91 William Genesen were first off the courts against UCSB, taking down Joseph Guillin/Victor Krusev (6-2). In singles, senior Michael Geneder finished first with a victory over Anders Holm (6-3, 6-); he was shortly followed by Kumar, who defeated Victor Krustev in a hard-fought second-set tiebreak (6-0, 7-6).
For Kumar and Geneder, Stanford’s seniors, the match against UCSB was their last at Taube Family Tennis Stadium. Both went out with wins.
“This place has been my home for the past four years,” Kumar said after the match. “So many great memories — tough losses but also huge wins … it’s bittersweet for sure, but we’re not done yet.”
“It feels really special for me,” Geneder said. “After the match, I sat down on the back of the court and thought about all the memories I’ve had, all the blood, sweat and tears, and the fact that it was all coming to an end just hit me in that moment. I feel really fortunate to have played some of my best tennis in the last match I played here. To see the guys all come together, fight really hard and come away with a tough win over a really solid team and move on was really awesome.”
The team heads to Charlottesville to take on No. 5 Virginia (23-4, 10-2 ACC) in the NCAA Super Regional on Saturday. Stanford fell to the Commodores 4-2 in the ITA National Indoor Championships back in February.
“We had a tough loss to them indoors a few weeks ago, so we owe them one and we’re coming for them,” Geneder said. “They’re a really solid team with great depth … flying across the country’s going to be difficult, but we’ll have time to adjust, and every one of us has a clear gameplan of what we want to do.”
“Playing them earlier in the year is a huge advantage because we know their game styles now,” Kumar said. “We can learn from that loss. It was a close match. We were honestly points away from being more competitive in that match.”
The women’s team had an equally dominant weekend; following a 4-0 win over New Mexico State and a 4-1 win over Syracuse, the Cardinal will face the No. 14 Kansas Jayhawks (21-4, 7-2 Big-12) at Taube, where the team has won 60 of its last 63 matches. This tournament marks Stanford women’s tennis’ 38th consecutive postseason appearance; the team is riding a 19-game winning streak heading into the Round of 16.
The doubles duo of junior No. 44 Emily Arbuthnott and sophomore No. 24 Michaela Gordon were first off the courts after clobbering Lindsay Harlas/Yadira Rubio (6-0) in just over twenty minutes. Seniors No. 29 Melissa Lord and No. 66 Caroline Lampl each grabbed wins in singles; Lord didn’t lose a single game en route to a win over Lindsay Harlas (6-0, 6-0). Freshman Niluka Madurawe clinched it in her postseason debut, defeating Chloe Gavino (6-2, 6-2).
In round two, the Cardinal got out to a hot start as Stanford’s top doubles duo in No. 19 Lampl/Yee surged back after falling behind five games to defeat No. 55 Knutson/Ramirez (7-5). First off the courts in singles, Gordon defeated her highest-ranked opponent of the season in No. 14 Gabriela Knutson (6-3, 6-0). Arbuthnott provided the clincher, taking down Guzal Yusupova (6-2, 6-3).
Syracuse’s only point came in an upset over Lord, who was undefeated in her previous sixteen matches in career NCAA team competition.
Stanford’s women’s tennis team is not only Stanford’s winningest sports program but also the most decorated women’s tennis program in college history. With a 155-19 all-time record in the postseason, the Cardinal looks to maintain momentum in a deep run in the remainder of this year’s NCAA tournament.
Contact Shan Reddy at rsreddy ‘at’ stanford.edu.