No. 16 Stanford men’s tennis (17-5, 6-2 Pac-12) traveled to Ojai, Calif., This past weekend to compete at the Pac-12 Championships. The Cardinal took down Arizona State (9-15, 2-5 Pac-12) in the quarterfinals before being knocked out by No. 13 USC (21-5, 7-1 Pac-12) in the semifinal round.
Other than a rain delay that made its first-round match span two days, Stanford did not have much trouble with the Sun Devils. Head coach Paul Goldstein moved the top-20 nationally ranked doubles partnership of sophomore Arthur Fery and senior Alexandre Rotsaert down to the No. 2 slot, and they were the first off the courts after a 6-3 win. Fifth-year Axel Geller and senior Tomas Kopczynski, who were moved up to the No. 1 slot, took care of business on the top court, winning 6-3.
With the doubles point secured, the Cardinal moved ahead into singles action. Freshman Max Basing gave Stanford a 2-0 lead after dispatching Fabien Salle 6-3, 6-3 on court two. Geller then followed suit with a 7-5, 6-3 victory on court three. With the score 3-0 in favor of the Cardinal, the match was then suspended until the next morning due to the rain.
The match resumed at 10:30 am the following day. Stanford needed only one more singles win to move on to the semifinals. Senior Sangeet Sridhar won in three sets 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, giving the Cardinal the one they needed and setting up a matchup against the Trojans.
Given the earlier rain delay, Stanford played USC on April 22 – the same day they had finished their match against the Sun Devils. The Trojans took the doubles point, winning 6-3 on both courts one and two.
The Cardinal did not have much luck in singles either. Basing was defeated by Bradley Frye on court two 6-2, 6-2. Sridhar lost to Lodewijk Weststrate 6-0, 6-4. Finally, Rotsaert lost 6-4, 6-4 to Ryan Colby on court four to complete the 4-0 sweep for USC. Fery was the only Stanford player who was winning his singles match when the match was suspended after the Trojans earned the clinching fourth point.
That was the fourth time the Cardinal and Trojans played this spring, with USC winning all but the first matchup. USC went on to defeat Washington 4-1 in the Pac-12 Championship match.
After falling short at Pac-12’s, Stanford will now turn its attention to the NCAA Tournament. The selection show will take place at 6 pm on May 2. Ranked the No. 16 team in the country, the Cardinal are sure to make the tournament, but their seeding will ultimately determine how far they go. Stanford has shown it can compete against the nation’s top teams, going 6-5 against teams in the top 25.
The key to the Cardinal’s success in May will be the play of Arthur Fery and Alexandre Rotsaert. The pair had a strong start to the year: Fery made it to the finals of the ITA Fall National Championships, and the duo made it to the finals of the same competition’s doubles tournament. Lately, however, the two have faded. Fery peaked at No. 1 in the country for singles, but has since fallen to No. 11. Rotsaert has been moved down to the No. 4 singles spot in the Cardinal’s lineup, and even more recently, the pair lost their top spot in the doubles lineup. Nevertheless, the talent and ability is still there for those two, and the rest of the Stanford team, to get back on track and make a run in the NCAA Tournament.