On Saturday afternoon at Cal’s Hellman Tennis Complex, the Stanford men’s tennis team downed its cross-bay rival to remain undefeated on the young season. The win is one of Stanford’s biggest so far and serves as a great way to go into what will undoubtedly be the team’s most important week of the dual-match season.
No. 8 Stanford (6-0) used particularly strong showings from a pair of upperclassmen, junior Ryan Thacher and senior Alex Clayton, to help propel the team to victory.
Thacher and his doubles partner, junior Bradley Klahn, got the match started with a doubles win over Cal’s top doubles team of junior Nick Andrews and freshman Ben McLachlan by a score of 8-3. After playing in the doubles draw of the USTA’s SAP Open last week, where they lost in the quarterfinals, Klahn and Thacher used their big match experience to gain an edge over the younger Cal duo.
The crucial doubles point, the first point of all dual matches, was in serious jeopardy after the doubles match on court three went Cal’s way. That left the point in the hands of Clayton and his teammate, senior Ted Kelly, who were locked in a tight match with the Golden Bears’ sophomore tandem of Christoffer Konigsfeldt and Sky Lovill. The match went down to a tiebreaker, tied at eight games apiece, which the Cardinal ended up winning, 7-1, giving Stanford the match’s first point.
In singles play, Thacher and Clayton were both solid as well, defeating their opponents in straight sets and bringing the Cardinal within one point of securing the match. Sophomores Denis Lin and Matt Kandath were both up for the challenge, avenging their doubles loss and securing the fourth and fifth points for Stanford, assuring victory. In the other two singles matches, senior Greg Hirshman fell to Cal’s freshman Ben McLachlan and Klahn, Stanford’s No. 1 player and the reigning NCAA singles champion, suffered his first defeat of the season to senior Pedro Zerbini in a closely contested match.
Two weekends from now, Feb. 25 and 26, the Cardinal will travel down to Los Angeles to do battle with two of the top six ranked teams in the country—No. 2 USC and No. 6 UCLA. Stanford, at No. 8, is in prime position to move up the national rankings with a strong showing in L.A.
Before the weekend’s marquee road trip, the Cardinal has some business to take care of at home—No. 30 Fresno State visits the Taube Family Tennis Center on Tuesday afternoon in what promises to be an intriguing and close match.
The Bulldogs (4-1) are off to a solid start to their season and have two very talented players on their roster—junior Remi Boutiller and senior Rikus de Villiers—who both are strong at singles play and form one of the nation’s most imposing doubles teams.
The action starts Tuesday at 1:30 p.m.