Over 200 people attended a unique college match-up between Stanford and San Diego State University men’s tennis teams at the Rancho Santa Fe Tennis Club on March 29.
In the first-ever college match held at the club, The Cardinal beat the Aztecs 4-0. The lopsided score is a little misleading as there were several great matchups in play when Stanford was first to reach four match points– “We were one match away from turning the tide on a very good Stanford team,” said SDSU Coach Gene Carswell.
RSF Tennis Club President Dave Van den Berg agreed about the excitement of the match and the level of play, noting said the number one singles was “absolutely fascinating” to watch on a fun day at the club.
As an added bonus, the matchup between the two colleges featured five players who went through the RSF Tennis Club’s junior tennis program, including Stanford’s Jack Barber and Tom Fawcett and Raul de la Torre, Milen Ianakiev and Marco Goles-Babic from SDSU.
“It was a fantastic event,” said Carswell who is in his 19th year at SDSU. “Over spring break there’s not much happening at the university so this was an opportunity to bring a match into the community...People got to get a really good taste of what an exciting college tennis match can be.”
With the loss, the Aztecs dropped their seventh in a row, falling to 5-12 on the year, while the Cardinal improved to 10-4 overall. (See more event photos online at www.rsfreview.com.)
SDSU was unable to secure the early doubles point as the Aztec tandem of junior Santiago Cevallos and freshman Nicholas Mitchell suffered a 6-3 defeat at the hands of 67th-ranked Michael Genender and Sameer Kumar in the No. 2 position, while the duo of sophomore Sander Gjoels-Anderson and freshman Joel Popev experienced an identical 6-3 setback to Brandon Sutter and David Wilcynzski in the No. 3 spot. Over on the No. 1 court, the Aztecs’ 51st-ranked pairing of seniors Goles-Babic and Ianakiev held a narrow 5-4 advantage over Fawcett and Yale Goldberg before the match was halted.
SDSU played well in spots during singles competition but could not secure results, as Stanford posted three victories in straight sets to blank the Scarlet and Black for the second year in a row. First off the court was Cevallos, who fell victim to Sutter, 6-0, 6-4, in the No. 5 position, while Popov was dispatched by Wilczynski in the third slot, 6-1, 6-1. Shortly thereafter sophomore de la Torre, a Torrey Pines graduate, came up short against William Genesen at No. 6 by a 6-3, 6-2 margin.
Three matches were abandoned when the Cardinal's clinching fourth point was recorded, including Goles-Babic, who captured the opening set in his encounter with 15th-ranked Fawcett in the No. 1 spot, 7-5, before falling behind 3-2 in the second. Over on court two, Ianakiev dropped the first set to No. 115 Kumar, 6-4, but rebounded to win the second, 6-3, before grabbing a 1-0 lead in the third. Meanwhile, Gjoels-Andersen was knotted with 99th-ranked Genender, 2-2, in the second set after claiming the first, 6-4, in the No. 4 position.
Bringing a college tennis match out into the community is rare but Carswell said they couldn’t have picked a better spot than Rancho Santa Fe.
“Rancho Santa Fe Tennis Club is a special club in our community,” Carswell said. “They have a great membership that really appreciates their tennis and supports tennis at a high level. There’s only a handful of places in San Diego where we could do this and Rancho Santa Fe is at the top of the list.”
The SDSU team’s goal is to finish the season strong–at the end of the month they will play in the Mountain West Conference Championships at Boise State, looking to clinch a spot in the NCAA Division 1 Men’s Tennis Championship. SDSU men and women tennis players will also have a strong presense in the Tennis Club’s RSF Invitational along with 40 other top professionals in San Diego. The invitational will be held this year on May 12-13.