After a brief fall schedule that saw the Cardinal Tennis Team tally a 1-2 record under the tutelage of first-year head coach Michael Fried, the team traveled to sunny Orlando, Fla. to kick off the competitive spring season. With four matches in five days, Wesleyan juggled practice with serious competition, refining their skills for the upcoming NESCAC competition upon their return home.
The team went a respectable 1-3 for the week in Florida, with all three losses coming at the hands of Division 1 opponents Valparaiso University, Creighton University, and ASA College. The victory for Wesleyan was against familiar foe Franklin & Marshall College, to whom the Cardinals handed a 6-3 defeat on their second to last day of competition. Overall, the team left happy with its performance and optimistic about the conference competition ahead.
“We played four matches against strong teams, three of which were Division I, and the other a respectable Division III team,” said Captain Michael Glen ’13. “Our goal in Florida was to prepare us for the competition that we will be facing against other NESCAC schools. Although our record was not favorable in Florida, we were playing strong teams who are comparable to the NESCAC teams we will be facing this spring. We believe that we are ready to compete and win in the NESCAC conference.”
The highlight for the Cardinals this spring has certainly been their doubles play, led by Captain Jeff Legunn ’13 and Michael King ’16. The doubles pairing accumulated a 4-0 record during the spring break trip in Florida, with every victory coming at the same 8-6 score. The pair showed consistency and reliability against formidable opponents during the trip, qualities that will go a long way while competing against NESCAC competition. Stephen Monk ’15 and Donovan Suh ’15 formed another quality doubles pair, gaining victories against ASA College, Franklin & Marshall, and Creighton.
Alex Rachlin ’15 commented on the team’s doubles’ success.
“Our doubles have been the most impressive, winning most of our doubles points in Florida, and this is important for catching NESCAC teams by surprise,” he said. “We’ve been working hard. Mike, our coach, has had the team working hard on our mental game and fitness, as everyone at the NESCAC level plays about the same. It is usually the mentally tough and physically fit who come out on top. We are looking to be those guys who come out on top because of our mental and physical training.”
Wesleyan sits at the bottom of the NESCAC rankings this season, mustering just a 1-7 record in conference play during the 2011-2012 campaign. Even more, six teams—Williams, Bowdoin, Middlebury, Amherst, Bates, and Trinity (Conn.)—are all sitting in the top 30 national rankings for Division 3. Williams starts spring play ranked third in the country, with Bowdoin close behind at number 5. To say the Cardinals have their work cut out for them may be an understatement, but the team is confident in its abilities this season. Glen summed up the team’s sentiments moving forward.
“Beginning with Middlebury in two weekends, we will be playing seven regular-season NESCAC matches through the end of April. Our goal for the season is to qualify for the NESCAC tournament. We have been preparing all year for this part of the season and are ready to make noise in the ’Cac.”