The men’s tennis team started their year off with a remarkably close loss to nationally ranked Aquinas College, but have since won three straight matches. Their win over Wabash on Saturday indicated that the Hornets are back on track to their competitive goals.
“We played Aquinas first, they were nationally ranked and they swept us in doubles,” said Coach Mark Riley ’82. “Our doubles play needed to get better and that’s what we’ve been practicing a lot lately.” This early season hiccup in doubles play could be because the team has nine underclassmen that aren’t necessarily accustomed to the importance of doubles in collegiate play yet.
“In high school there’s extra importance in singles, but in college a doubles win is equivalent to a singles win,” says Riley.
Despite the early season 5-4 loss to Aquinas, the team has worked hard in practice and displayed only winning efforts since. These efforts include an 8-1 win against Ohio Wesleyan, a 9-0 win over Wis.-Oshkosh and most recently a 6-3 win over Wabash.
The win over Wabash required a strong effort from all team members and total focus, as there was a strong outside distraction in Monte Carlo happening later Saturday night.
The Wabash match was also a good indication of the team’s development because they came from behind to win. “We lost some doubles matches, but we showed a lot of fight. Which I really like,” said Riley on his team’s comeback effort.
After going down 2-1 in doubles, the Hornets responded quickly through singles victories by Branden Metzler ’17 (6-1, 6-3) and David DeSimone ’15 (6-2, 6-1). Riley says experienced players like Metzler and DeSimone offer good guidance to the younger guys who are still adapting to the constant high level of play.
“We always get the other teams’ best because they know of our legacy here,” says Riley. However, he says his team relishes the best of the best competition because it really prepares them for their season goals towards nationals. The Hornets have four nationally ranked teams left on their schedule this season, including number four-ranked Emory who they will play over spring break.
The men’s tennis team gets their MIAA conference schedule underway on April 4 when they take on Albion. At that time their focus will be back on keeping the streaks alive, including 76 straight MIAA Championships and participation in the national tournament every year since its inception in 1976.