Over the course of the 2017 spring season, the Ducks rolled out eight different combinations of players in doubles action.
Head coach Nils Schyllander shuffled different players in, out and around the lineup. But there was one pair that Schyllander always sent out together: Thomas Laurent and Cormac Clissold.
That consistency has carried into the team’s 2018 campaign. Now at the start of their third season teaming up in doubles, the duo of Laurent and Clissold appear on track to challenge the program record of 57 wins by a doubles pair.
“We’ve come up with the chance to just stay together for a long time” said Laurent. “It’s just a huge advantage … we just know. We’ve played every match on this court. We always do the same thing.”
Clissold, now a senior, began his career at Oregon in the spring of 2015. In his freshman season, Clissold went 9-6 in doubles. The following year, Laurent arrived and paired with Clissold to begin their historic career.
Following four straight doubles losses in the early part of the 2016 season, Clissold was paired up with Laurent permanently. The rest is history.
The pair ripped off 15 consecutive wins to conclude the 2016 season, a program record. The impressive run put together by the underclassmen turned out to be a sign of good things to come.
Facing stiffer competition then they had before, Laurent and Clissold continued their dominance in 2017. The pair went 24-6 last season, this time playing in the No. 1 and No. 2 spots, shooting their doubles ranking to No. 17 in the nation.
Many schools tend to pair their top two singles players together in doubles. While that may work for some schools, the Ducks don’t follow that standard. While Laurent is the clear No. 1 option in singles, Clissold mostly finds himself competing in the No. 4 and No. 5 spots in singles.
As they have shown, though, it’s their comfort level in playing with one another that trumps all else.
“We have this immediate connection when we just relax and play with each other,” Clissold said.
The connection was quite evident for the duo, whose 24 wins were tied for the second most in a single season in program history, trailing only the 29 wins that Robin Cambier and Jeff Mullen put together in 2012. It’s Cambier and Mullen, too, who hold the program record for most doubles wins with 57.
That might not be the case for much longer, though. Playing in their third and final season together, Laurent and Clissold currently have 48 wins, well within striking distance of the record set by Cambier and Mullen from 2011-2013.
“Me and Thomas have a pretty good doubles record going, but it’s all about the team this year,” Clissold said.
Laurent and Clissold are focused on the team. If and when they set the program record for doubles wins, they’ll own an individual record that should not go underappreciated.
Follow Cole Kundich on Twitter @ckundich