Oregon upsets No. 15 Stanford 4-3
Oregon sophomore Ethan Young-Smith hasn’t been a consistent presence for the Ducks on the court this season. The last time he played was March 17 against Iowa. But he stepped up on Sunday afternoon against No. 15 Stanford to relieve teammate Simon Stevens due to injury.
Despite being thrown into the fire against an opponent the Ducks have only defeated twice before in program history, Young-Smith simply focused on his game.
“I had to focus on myself,” Young-Smith said. “I just had to get into that mindset that I know what I have to do to win.”
After he scored the match point to edge out Stanford 4-3, the Ducks rushed the court and pinned him on the ground in a group pile.
“Being the one to clinch it is unreal,” he said. “I never would have imagined myself out here with all these guys grinding away and getting the W.”
The win raised Oregon’s overall record to 17-5 and 3-3 in Pac-12 play and also ties Oregon’s highest-ranked win in program history when the Ducks defeated No.15 Boise State in 2014.
“It put us in a really good seed position for the NCAA Tournament,” Oregon head coach Nils Shyllander said. “We dealt with some adversity with Simon not being available today, but I think we responded well in the singles.”
This was the first time that a match was held outdoors instead of the Student Tennis Center, an indoor facility that usually comes in handy to counter Eugene’s cold, gloomy and rainy weather.
The Cardinal took the early lead in doubles when they defeated duos of Jayson Amos and Ty Gentry, as well as Akihiro Tanaka and Armando Soemarno. Cormac Clissold and Thomas Laurent were the only Ducks pair to steal a doubles victory with a 6-4 win over No.81 Michael Genender and Sameer Kumar.
It was a constant back-and-forth battle in the singles as both teams fought for the match point. Clissold led Oregon’s attack as he closed out the first singles match to score the Duck’s first point. Amos then lost on his court, but Laurent and Tanaka both picked up wins against ranked singles players to gain a brief lead before Gentry’s loss tied both teams.
It all came down to Young-Smith’s court, who won a tiebreaker in the second set to force a third set. Despite the high-pressure situation, Schyllander trusted his charge to perform.
“I know when he’s got his teeth in the match, he usually comes out ahead,” Schyllander said. “He did a remarkable job. He didn’t make an unforced error in that whole third set.”
Last Friday, No.26 Laurent narrowly lost to the No.15 player in the nation. On Sunday, he was served with yet another ranked opponent, No.10 Tom Fawcett.
Laurent, however, took a page out of his opponent’s book by being in a position to take good shots and being more decisive about going for the ball. Rankings became irrelevant as Laurent won the match over two sets in 6-4 and 6-0.
“If you have the control at the beginning of the point, I feel that you will have more chance to conclude the point by being aggressive,” he said.
The sophomore now has 28 victories this season, a new single-seasons record, but he remains focused on the team’s performance.
“I’m very happy, but right now we’re focused on winning together,” Laurent said.
Oregon will play its final home game against Washington on April 22 before heading to the Pac-12 Championships in Ojai, California, the following week.
Follow Romaine Soh on Twitter @mainetainpls
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