By Shan Reddy
Both Stanford women’s and men’s tennis were off to strong starts before this season’s untimely end due to COVID-19; the women’s team held a 10-2 record, and the men’s team was 8-5. Though play was abbreviated, four Cardinal shone enough to be recognized for their performances with ITA Northwest Regional Awards on Monday.
Senior Emily Arbuthnott is one of the most accomplished players in program history with a 101-26 career record in singles. A two-time NCAA team champion and three-time Pac-12 team champion, Arbuthnott clinched 30 matches during her time with the Cardinal while also dominating in the classroom. An economics major sporting a 4.16 GPA, Arbuthnott was also a three-time ITA Scholar-Athlete and two-time Pac-12 All-Academic selection. She was recognized as ITA Most Improved Senior and will advance to the national ITA awards ballot along with fellow senior Emma Higuchi.
Higuchi received the region’s Cissie Leary Sportsmanship Award, given to a Division I women’s player who, according to the ITA Tennis website, “displays inspiring dedication and commitment to her team, which has enhanced her team’s performance and exemplified the spirit of college tennis.” The award’s namesake is women’s tennis coach Cissie Leary, whose 20-year coaching career at the University of Pennsylvania was highlighted by a five-year undefeated streak from 1981 to 1985.
Also a two-time NCAA team champion, three-time Pac-12 team champion and two-time Pac-12 All-Academic selection, Higuchi finished her career with a 94-18 overall singles record and a 65-9 record in dual matches.
Two talented underclassmen on the men’s team were also recognized at the ceremony: Freshman Neel Rajesh was named ITA Northwest Regional Rookie of the Year, and sophomore Alexandre Rotsaert took home ITA Northwest Regional Player to Watch honors.
Rajesh had a strong showing in his first season on the Farm and ended the season ranked No. 14 nationally in doubles alongside junior Axel Geller, who won the ITA Northwest Regional Rookie of the Year award back in 2018 and the ITA Northwest Regional Player to Watch award last season. Rajesh posted a 14-9 singles record and a 16-8 doubles record and looks to be a mainstay in the starting lineup for years to come.
Rotsaert finished the year ranked No. 7 in singles and was ranked as high as No. 5; he went 13-7 in singles play and 10-10 in doubles along sophomore Tomas Kopczynski. Rotsaert also led the team in wins over ranked opponents with eight, and he advanced to the semifinals of the ITA All-American Championships and the finals of the Sherwood Cup.
Arbuthnott, Higuchi, Rajesh and Rotsaert will all be eligible for awards next week at the ITA national awards ceremony.
Contact Shan Reddy at rsreddy ‘at’ stanford.edu.