It was a successful weekend on the national stage for Stanford’s two tennis programs, as both the men’s (19-5, 6-2 Pac-12) and the women’s (19-5, 7-2 Pac-12) teams advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.
On the men’s side, the Cardinal traveled to Cambridge, Mass. to participate in the Harvard Regional. They took down No. 35 Mississippi State (14-13, 4-8 SEC) in the first round 4-0. Sophomore Arthur Fery and senior Alexandre Rotsaert stayed in the No. 2 slot and took down their opponents 6-4. On court three, freshman Max Basing and fifth-year Timothy Sah won 6-1.
Singles was more of the same for Stanford. Basing was the first off the courts after securing a 6-3, 7-5 victory on court two. Next was Rotsaert, who took a 6-4, 6-2 win on court three. Finally, Sah earned the clinching point with a 6-2, 7-6 (5) triumph at the No. 5 spot.
The first-round victory set up the Cardinal to play host No. 14 Harvard (19-5, 7-0 Ivy League) the next day. The Crimson had advanced past Monmouth (20-4, 6-0 MAAC) in the opening round.
Stanford continued its momentum from the previous match, winning the doubles point thanks to Fery and Rotsaert, as well as Basing and Sah.
Singles would not be nearly as smooth sailing. Rotsaert quickly handled his opponent on court four with a score of 6-2, 6-0. Then, Harvard won the next two matches to tie the score at two. Fifth-year Axel Geller lost on court two and senior Sangeet Sridhar lost on court five. The two teams then exchanged points, as Fery got one back for the Cardinal at the top spot, and Harvard’s Steven Sun defeated Sah at the bottom of the lineup.
With the score knotted at three apiece, it all came down to a decisive third set on court three between Stanford’s Basing and Harvard’s Brian Shi. Basing had lost the first set but battled back to take the second. As a freshman playing in the biggest match of his college career thus far, Basing showed nerves of steel to prevail 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, and send the Cardinal into the Sweet 16.
Stanford will now face No. 3 Baylor (28-3, 4-1 Big 12) this Friday, May 13 in Waco, Texas at 4 p.m. PT. The Bears defeated Abilene Christian in the first round and Texas A&M in the second round to reach this point. During the regular season, Baylor defeated four teams ranked inside the top 10. The other Sweet 16 matchup in Stanford’s section of the bracket is Florida State vs. No. 6 Tennessee.
On the women’s side, the Cardinal hosted the regional, and the team defended its home courts, avoiding a potential upset. First up was Southeast Missouri State (15-7, 5-2 OVC).
Stanford clinched the doubles point thanks to 6-2 victories on courts one and three. In singles, senior Sara Choy was the first off the courts with a 6-1, 6-0 win at the bottom of the lineup. Freshman Alexandra Yepifanova and junior Angelica Blake also won to give the Cardinal the 4-0 sweep.
Next up was a redemption opportunity for Stanford against UCSB (21-7, 9-0 Big West). The Cardinal narrowly lost to the Gauchos 3-4 back in March.
The doubles point was in contention after UCSB won on court one and Stanford took court three. However, fifth-year Michaela Gordon and freshman Valencia Xu came through to snatch the point for the Cardinal.
From there, it was all Stanford, as the Cardinal dominated singles play. Blake and Choy were the first two off the courts with 6-4, 6-3 and 7-5, 6-3 wins, respectively. The fourth and final point would come from freshman Connie Ma at the top of the lineup. Ma defeated Shakhnoza Khatamova 7-5, 6-3 to send the Cardinal into the Sweet 16.
Stanford will now face No. 2 Oklahoma (29-2, 9-0 Big XII) on Friday at 4 p.m. PT in Norman, Okla. The Sooners took down Bryant and No. 17 Arizona State in the opening two rounds. The Cardinal will have to be wary of the Sooners, as Oklahoma beat six top 10 teams during the regular season. The other two teams in Stanford’s section of the bracket are No. 7 Texas A&M and Vanderbilt.
Both the men’s and women’s teams have a full week to recuperate and prepare for the next stage of the NCAA Tournament, but this coming weekend will be a challenge for both squads.