For the second straight year, the Columbia men’s tennis team will play at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Division I National Indoor Championships after the Lions came from behind to beat Stanford 4-3 at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on Monday afternoon.
Stanford won two of the three doubles matches to claim the doubles point, but senior Mike Vermeer responded for Columbia with a 6-4, 6-0 win at fourth singles to notch the score at one-all.
After Stanford captured both the first and sixth singles matches, Columbia found itself in a hole, down 1-3 and needing to win the final three singles matches to come out victorious.
Junior Richard Pham nailed down the first victory, a 6-3, 6-4 win over Stanford’s Michael Geneder at fifth singles.
At third singles, senior Eric Rubin came back from a set down to beat Maciek Romanowicz 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 to even the overall score at 3-3, and leaving the match to be decided by the second singles match.
It came down to the racket of freshman Victor Pham, Richard’s younger brother, who played more like an experienced senior than a freshman. Even after squandering two match points on serve, Pham hung on to beat David Wilczynski 3-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(3) and clinch the victory for the Lions.
“[I was] leading 5-4, I was serving up 40-15 and had two match points, but ended up losing that game,” said Pham. “At five-all, the crowd helped me out so much with all the chants and gave me the energy and so much more belief. It was definitely a match to remember.”
The 16th ranked Lions will head to the Boar’s Head Sports Club in Charlottesville, Virginia for the ITA National Championships from Feb. 12-15.
“If this match was on tv, it would have been an instant classic,” said the Columbia Tennis Alumni and Friends Head Coach of Tennis Bid Goswami. “It was a really unbelievable team effort. I thought after losing a doubles point it would be a tough one because they are so loaded and have no holes in their team. I was honored and privileged to be a part of it, and felt like I was on Mount Everest hoisting the Columbia flag.”