Coming off a dramatic victory over Trinity, last Wednesday men’s tennis hit the road on Saturday to square off against Hamilton for the teams’ one and only meeting of the year. Last season, the Cardinals’ decisive 7-1 victory over the Continentals stood as their lone NESCAC win for the season. After a win over ranked Trinity the team felt ready for more—first at Hamilton, then home against Tufts. To say the Cardinals have had bad luck against the Jumbos would be a drastic understatement; the team had not snagged a victory against Tufts since 1941.
“We went down there ready to win,” said captain Michael Glen ’13. “And we knew that if we stayed focused for our match the next day, that we could win them both.”
The doubles team of Jeff Legunn ’13 and Michael King ’16 entered the weekend with an undefeated 6-0 record as the #2 doubles pair. Against Hamilton, the doubles pairings accounted for three of the Cardinals’ five match victories.
“The doubles have really been stepping up this year,” said Alex Rachlin ’15.
Wesleyan made quick work of its opponents in each of the doubles bouts. The #3 duo of Stephen Monk ’15 and Donovan Suh ’15 grabbed their win 8-3. The undefeated tandem of Legunn and King took its match a bit further with an 8-6 match win. The top doubles pairing of Zach Brint ’16 and Sam Rudovsky ’16 also notched a tally for Wesleyan, taking its match 8-4.
“The difference between our doubles pairs this year and in the past has been huge,” Rachlin added. “Knowing that we are going into almost every match with a legitimate chance of grabbing two or three wins gives us a mental edge compared to last year.”
The team also added singles victories from Rudovsky at the #3 spot and Legunn at the #4 spot. Rudovsky took his match 7-6, 6-3 while the senior captain Legunn earned a convincing 6-2, 6-2 win. These two victories— coupled onto Wesleyan’s three wins in doubles competition—proved enough for the 5-4 victory.
Quick turnaround notwithstanding, Wesleyan remained focused on the home match against Tufts on Sunday. The Cardinals grabbed three important matches in singles competition versus the Jumbos. Again Legunn stepped up and made quick work of his opponent at the #4 spot with a 6-2, 6-2 win. Zach Brint ’16 grabbed a clutch three-set win at the #5 spot, winning 5-7, 7-6, 6-3. Rudovsky grabbed another singles victory at #3 7-6, 6-3 to round out the victories for Wesleyan in singles.
The #2 doubles of Legunn and King kept its winning streak alive, increasing the now very impressive mark to 8-0. The match was an 8-6 win, and with the victory of #3 doubles pair Stephen Monk ’15 and Donovan Suh 8-4, the Cardinals found themselves benefactors of another 5-4 victory.
“The week—not just our weekend–was huge for us,” Glen said. “Our team showed a lot of heart grabbing three 5-4 victories in a row against solid teams. In each match different people stepped up for the win, and that’s what you need as a team to succeed in our conference.”
“This is the first time we have beat Trinity or Tufts in a while,” he added. “These results are unprecedented for Wesleyan tennis, but we can’t get complacent. We need to focus on Colby and Connecticut College next weekend. Just keep doing what we’re doing and let our play solve the rest.”
Though no match in the NESCAC is ever a certainty, one thing Wesleyan can count on is an increased amount of respect around the conference. For the first time in a long time, the Cardinals have proven they are nothing to scoff at on the tennis court. The push to keep this streak going continues at home on Saturday, April 20 against Colby and Sunday, April 21 versus Conn.