The Stanford men’s tennis team defeated the Tulsa Golden Hurricane by the slimmest of margins, 4 to 3, on Friday evening at Taube Tennis Stadium. No. 12 Stanford improved to 10-5 (1-1 Pac-10) with the victory while No. 31 Tulsa fell to 14-6. The Cardinal wrapped up the weekend in Tucson, dealing the Arizona Wildcats a 5-2 loss.
Two international underclassmen led Tulsa–sophomore Marcelo Arevalo of El Salvador and freshman Japie De Klerk of South Africa–who both achieved impressive statement victories. Arevalo and De Klerk posted Tulsa’s lone win in the three doubles matches, defeating Dennis Lin and Matt Kandath of the Cardinal, 8-5. In the singles, Arevalo was pitted against junior Bradley Klahn, Stanford’s No. 1 and the nations No. 11 player. Arevalo, ranked No. 46, went in as the underdog yet managed to upset Klahn (1-6, 6-3, 7-5) and assert himself as a young player on the rise. The freshman De Klerk, ranked No. 99, had the task of taking on Stanford’s No. 2 player, No. 32 Ryan Thacher. Like his teammate Klahn, Thacher fell to a younger and lower-seeded opponent in three sets, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4.
Luckily for Stanford’s top two singles players, the back of the Cardinal lineup came up big against the Hurricane. Seniors Alex Clayton and Greg Hirshmann, along with sophomore Matt Kandath, all defeated their Tulsa foes to provide Stanford with the critical four points needed for a victory.
Kandath was the closer for the Cardinal on Friday, finishing his match by defeating his opponent 6-4 in the third set and giving the team its pivotal fourth point. Tulsa has had a disparity of success between its top four lineup slots and its lower two. Over the course of the team’s last six matches, the top four have thrived and are a combined 20-4, whereas the bottom two have struggled to the tune of a 5-7 record.
After Friday’s victory, the Cardinal headed south to Tucson to do battle with the No. 56 Arizona Wildcats. The team followed up its close victory over Tulsa in Friday’s match with a more decisive 5-2 win on Sunday. The Wildcats were blitzed early and often in this match, losing the first five contests before eking out the final two.
These two wins were crucial for the Cardinal, both to hold its position in the fickle national rankings and to gain confidence as it heads into a difficult week that will feature three highly ranked opponents. First up is No. 26 San Diego on Wednesday at home, and then Stanford will head north to take on Washington and Oregon over the weekend.