By Shan Reddy
Stanford tennis went undefeated in four games at the ITA Kick-Off Weekend this past Saturday and Sunday at Taube Family Tennis Stadium. The women’s team swept both of its weekend opponents, South Florida (USF) on Saturday and Washington State on Sunday, while the men’s team defeated Tulane 4-1 on Saturday and rival Cal 4-0 on Sunday.
Ranked No. 1 in the country entering the season, the Stanford women’s tennis team hosted USF, Denver and Washington State this past weekend.
Senior Sara Choy provided the first clincher of her career to earn the Cardinal its first win of the season in a 4-0 shutout of the USF Bulls on Saturday afternoon; Choy defeated Lucia Garrigues-Melendez (6-0, 6-2) in singles after earning an earlier win over Clark/Tiron (6-2) alongside doubles partner and fellow senior Emma Higuchi.
Senior Emily Arbuthnott sealed the deal on Sunday against Wazzu, taking down Hikaru Sato (6-4, 6-2). A win in doubles from No. 33 Arbuthnott/Blake as well as singles wins from Choy and freshman Angelica Blake also contributed to the final 4-0 score. Blake’s commanding win over Savanna Ly-Nguyen (6-1, 6-1) was the first of her collegiate career.
Stanford women’s tennis has now won 64 of its last 67 matches at Taube Tennis Stadium; the weekend sweep also qualifies them for next month’s ITA National Team Indoor Championships in Chicago. At the tournament last season, the team saw their historic 25-match winning streak snapped in the semifinals with a narrow 4-3 loss to then-No. 5 Georgia.
The No. 11 Stanford men’s tennis team also started the season off strong, sweeping UC Davis on Jan. 10 at Taube. Freshman Neel Rajesh teamed up with junior Axel Geller in doubles to earn his first collegiate win with a takedown of Goulak/Thamma (6-2); he also defeated Andrei Volgin (6-2, 6-3) in singles.
No. 18 sophomore Alexandre Rotsaert also contributed two wins; one came in singles over David Goulak (6-3, 6-1), and the other in doubles alongside sophomore Tomas Kopczynski over Landa/Volgin (6-3).
The Cardinal carried momentum into this past weekend with a victory against Tulane; Rajesh provided the clincher — the first of his career — with a win over Tim Ruetzel (6-4, 6-4). The Cardinal’s sole loss came by an upset of the team’s top-ranked singles player, Rotsaert, who fell to No. 90 Hamish Stewart (2-6, 2-6). The sophomore bounced back in doubles, however; he and Kopczynski handily defeated Erlenbusch/Ruetzel (6-2).
The loss would be the sole match dropped by Stanford tennis all weekend; the men’s team capped off Sunday afternoon with a 4-0 takedown of the Cal Golden Bears. Rajesh provided the clincher for the second game in a row, taking down Ben Draper (4-6, 6-1, 7-5) and putting a bow on the most eventful weekend of his young career.
The weekend sweep also secures the men’s team’s spot in the ITA National Team Indoor Championships, which will be held from Feb. 13-17 in Madison, Wisconsin.
The women’s team will return to action at home against Hawaii on Thursday at 1:30 p.m. before heading to Chicago; the men’s team will remain at home for their next four matches over the next two weekends before heading to Madison.