Stanford freshman Tom Fawcett captured his first career singles title by defeating Santa Clara's Ashot Khacharyan, 3-6, 6-3, 6-1, in the final of the USTA/ITA Northwest Regional Championships on Tuesday at Taube Family Tennis Stadium.
Making his home debut and playing in just his second collegiate tournament, Fawcett became Stanford's first singles champion at the regional event since Ryan Thacher outlasted California's Ben McLachlan, 6-2, 2-6, 7-5, in 2011 in Seattle.
Prior to Tuesday, Fawcett had powered his way through to the final. After receiving a first-round bye, Fawcett won his first five matches in straight sets, including a 6-3, 6-4 semifinal decision over rookie teammate David Tsu in a showcase of Stanford's talented freshmen.
Fawcett started slowly in the title match, with Khacharyan claiming a 6-3 victory in the opening set. Tied at 4-4 in the second set, Fawcett held serve and then registered a break to even the match.
The third frame was all Fawcett, pounding home winners and relying on his big serve to put away Khacharyan.
"I was a little nervous from the start and it basically took a set before I settled down and finally got into the match," said Fawcett. "Other than trying to get free points off my serve, I felt like my returns were really on today. I was able to pressure him off the first ball and that allowed me to be more aggressive at different points. My focus was to just stay relaxed and calm and I want to keep doing that moving forward."
"I'm really proud of Tom's effort, beginning with the first ball he struck at the start of the tournament," said first-year Stanford head coach Paul Goldstein. "He was very solid, winning a lot of points with his serve while also creating errors for his opponent. Today was a different match in that his opponent made him play a lot of balls and win points from the baseline. For Tom to be able to make the adjustment midway and win points from the ground, it completely changed the dynamics of the match in the second set. Tom's will in that third set was outstanding."
Fawcett clinched a spot in the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships, scheduled for Nov. 6-9 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York.
Goldstein noted that Tuesday's final will provide Fawcett with added confidence moving forward.
"Tom's win today is equally important for the culture of our team," Goldstein said. "Here's a guy who competed so well today and he's going to keep pushing the rest of the guys on the team. We're not where we need to be, Tom's not where he needs to be and I'm not where I need to be. Don't get me wrong, I'm extremely proud of this effort and it's a great positive, but we've all got work to do. Tom's result today is a step in that direction, along with David's run to the semifinals. The rest of the guys see that and we've got a great energy going right now with this group."