M. Tennis: Card wins season’s last two road games

April 11, 2011, 1:46 a.m.

The Stanford men’s tennis team overcame a crazy weekend of travel to defeat Washington and Oregon on the road.

The No. 9 Cardinal (14-5, 4-1 Pac-10) kicked off its weekend against the deceptively strong, No. 22 Washington Huskies squad on Friday afternoon.

M. Tennis: Card wins season's last two road games
The Stanford men's tennis team pulled out a close 4-3 win over Washington on Friday. The Cardinal scored its fourth and clinching point with two matches to go before the Huskies came back against senior Greg Hirshman, above, and sophomore Matt Kandath. (Stanford Daily File Photo)

The Huskies (15-8, 2-3) had already proven they could compete with the top teams in the country, defeating fifth-ranked Texas A&M in February and even hanging with the undefeated and top-ranked University of Virginia. Washington had lost three straight matches coming into Friday–all against top-15 teams–and the scrappy squad was looking to get back on the winning trail.

Stanford shot out to an early 2-0 lead against the Huskies thanks to its continued dominance in doubles and junior Bradley Klahn’s 6-4, 6-2 victory over Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan at the No. 1 spot.

Washington made it interesting when Kyle McMorrow defeated Ryan Thacher 6-3, 6-4 to bring the score to 2-1, but Stanford won the next two matches to secure the victory. Sophomore Denis Lin provided the clincher at the No. 4 spot, beating Daniel Shmidt 6-3, 6-4.

Washington won the last two matches of the contest to make the final score 4-3, but senior Greg Hirshman noted that the match was much tougher than the early 4-1 lead indicates.

“Washington was a tough team at home,” Hirshman said. “They are a top-25 team, and their courts are very different from ours. We have very fast courts while theirs are extremely slow, and we had to adjust to that. We barely won the match 4-3, but we are … very happy we got that.

“Even though I lost and a few other guys lost, the match shows how we’ve been able to diversify where we get the points we need to get the win,” Hirshman continued.

Indeed, the Cardinal’s current six-game win streak has demonstrated that diversification. The top of the lineup carried the team on Friday against the Huskies, while against teams like Tulsa, the bottom of the lineup has been the difference-maker.

Stanford then traveled to Eugene, Ore., for a Saturday showdown with the Oregon Ducks (10-10, 1-4). The trip itself turned out to be quite eventful, according to Hirshman.

“We had a crazy situation where our flight from Washington to Oregon was canceled,” he said. “We ended up driving from midnight until 4:30 a.m. and then got up at 9 to get ready for our 11:00 a.m. match.”

Even on little sleep, the Cardinal secured a commanding 6-1 victory, sweeping the doubles point and winning the first five singles points of the match. Hirshman recognized that it was definitely a match the team expected to win, but that doing so given its hectic travel situation was meaningful.

Overall, the Cardinal escaped with its winning streak intact after what was likely the team’s last road trip, as Stanford will host its last four dual matches of the season as well as the final four rounds of the NCAA Tournament. It is becoming increasingly likely that the Cardinal will also host the first two rounds, as the higher-seeded team hosts those matches.

“Even though we likely won’t have any more road matches, it was good to demonstrate we can win in a very difficult, hostile environment,” Hirshman said. “Especially in that Washington match, against a top-25 team, we showed that we’re ready to take on anyone, and this weekend was a manifestation of the fact that we definitely mean business.”

The squad is back in action on Thursday at 1:30 p.m. against the Boise State Broncos at Taube Tennis Stadium.


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