The Stanford men posted their most significant tennis victory of the season by knocking off No. 15 UCLA, 4-3, to remain undefeated in the Pac-12 Conference this season at the Taube Family Tennis Center on Friday.
Riding a season-high eight-match winning streak, the Cardinal (14-4, 5-0 Pac-12) remained in the hunt for its first conference title since 2010 and posted its first victory over the Bruins (13-7, 4-1 Pac-12) in eight tries.
Backed by a raucous late-afternoon crowd and improving to 10-0 at home, Stanford took an early lead with the doubles point and clinched the match thanks to a three-set win from Nolan Paige.
Matching its win total from a 14-6 overall finish last season, Stanford gets another shot at an upset on Saturday when No. 5 USC (19-3, 5-0 Pac-12) visits The Farm. The 2 p.m. contest is part of a stacked lineup for Cardinalpalooza, a free all-day sports festival that includes six other Cardinal teams in action. Highlighted by the Cardinal & White Spring Football game at 1 p.m., Cardinalpalooza also features tailgating opportunities, food trucks in Pac-12 plaza, merchandise discounts and post-event interaction with competing teams.
Stanford jumped out to a 1-0 lead thanks to 6-4 victories at the Nos. 1 and 3 spots in doubles.
UCLA, which won the first meeting 5-2 on Feb. 28 in Los Angeles, knotted the match at 1-1 when Dennis Mkrtchian topped freshman David Wilczynski 6-4, 6-4 at the No. 3 position. But Stanford answered as senior John Morrissey defeated Martin Redlicki 7-6 (3), 6-3 at the No. 2 spot.
The Bruins evened it again at 2-2 following Karue Sell's 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 triumph over Robert Stineman.
Stanford's David Hsu followed with a 7-5, 7-5 victory over Austin Rapp at the No. 6 spot, pushing Stanford back in front 3-2.
The two remaining matches were locked in back-and-forth battles until Paige emerged with the clincher. Paige had built a 5-3 lead in the third set before Joseph Di Giulio rallied to force a tiebreaker. It was all Paige from there, pocketing seven of the 11 overall points.
Stanford will be looking to snap a nine-match losing streak to USC, which has captured five of the past six NCAA titles.