WACO, Texas- No. 27 Stanford dropped a 4-2 decision to No. 43 Tulsa on Saturday afternoon in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
In a hard-fought match that lasted nearly four hours, Stanford (14-6, 5-2 Pac-12) built an early lead but was unable to convert several three-setters as Tulsa (16-12, 0-0 Conference USA) rallied for the win.
Making its 35th all-time NCAA Tournament appearance, Stanford moved in front 1-0 after capturing the doubles point. After Jamin Ball and John Morrissey coasted to an 8-2 win at the top spot of the lineup, Maciek Romanowicz and Trey Strobel closed out an 8-6 win on court three.
The Cardinal added its second point after Robert Stineman notched his 15th win of the year following a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Daniel Santos at the No. 6 spot.
Trailing 2-0, Tulsa responded by collecting four straight victories. Additionally, the Golden Hurricane won all three matches that were pushed to three sets, representing the difference in the match.
Clifford Marsland defeated Morrissey 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 at the No. 1 spot of the lineup in a battle of nationally-ranked players.
Alejandro Espejo’s 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5) win over Daniel Ho, the lone senior in Stanford’s lineup, at the No. 3 position evened the match at 2-2.
With the remaining matches all into a third frame, Tulsa was able to close out the action on the back courts. After Or Ram-Harel edged Strobel 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-3 at the No. 4 position, Dylan McCloskey outlasted Anthony Tsodikov 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (3) at the No. 5 spot.
Romanowicz, appearing in the singles lineup for only the third time since April due to injury, had pushed Japie De Klerk to a third set before the match was abandoned.
Stanford was also without the services of Nolan Paige (injury), last year’s ITA Northwest Region Rookie of the Year who won 20 matches.
Saturday’s loss put the finishing touches on a season in which Stanford continued to improve despite battling multiple injuries throughout the year. The Cardinal finished third in the highly-competitive Pac-12 and earned an at-large bird thanks primarily to a strong finish, as evidenced by a 25-spot climb in the national rankings during the month of April. Stanford also posted four victories over top-40 opponents, including No. 16 California and No. 22 Boise State, while four of its six losses were against teams ranked in the top-10.
Stanford figures to be well-positioned for the future with several key pieces returning, as this year's singles lineup regularly featured two juniors and three sophomores.
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No. 43 Tulsa 4, No. 27 Stanford 2
1) Jamin Ball/Morrissey (STAN) d. No. 27 Marsland/McCloskey (TULSA) 8-2
2) Ho/Stineman (STAN) d. De Klerk/Espejo (TULSA) abandoned
3) Romanowicz/Strobel (STAN) d. Bautista/Santos (TULSA) 8-6
Order of Finish: 1, 3
1) No. 74 Clifford Marsland (TULSA) d. No. 118 John Morrissey (STAN) 5-7, 6-2, 6-2
2) No. 73 Maciek Romanowicz (STAN) vs. No. 76 Japie De Klerk (TULSA) abandoned
3) Alejandro Espejo (TULSA) d. Daniel Ho (STAN) 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5)
4) Or Ram-Harel (TULSA) d. Trey Strobel (STAN) 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-3
5) Dylan McCloskey (TULSA) d. Anthony Tsodikov (STAN) 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (3)
6) Robert Stineman (STAN) d. Daniel Santos (TULSA) 6-1, 6-1
Order of Finish: 6, 1, 3, 4, 5