Eight members of the Wesleyan men’s tennis team traveled to Middlebury, Vt this past weekend to compete in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Regional Tournament. This annual competition hosts some of the best Division III talent in the nation as players battle it out without team scoring.
“I think the weekend reminded us of just how strong the competition in the NESCAC is and just how hard we have to work to be where we want to be among the top teams in the conference,” said Head Coach Michael Fried.
In singles competition, Wesleyan had four players participating, including Captain Stephen Monk ’15. Monk handily defeated Brandeis’ Ryan Bunis 6-3, 6-4 in the first round of 64.
“I versed a very solid first-year player in round number one,” Monk said. “I stayed calm and patient during long rallies until he became frustrated and went for too much.”
Unfortunately for Monk, his success, as well as his tournament ended in the round of 32, during which a familiar face, Timmy Berg, took him down. The Bates player was able to defeat Monk two weeks earlier at the Middlebury Invitational 6-1, 7-5; unfortunately for Cardinal fans, the result was no different this past weekend. Berg, the ninth seed at the ITA, moved on to the round of 16 by beating Monk in straight sets 6-0, 6-3.
“I did not make a good transition from the first match to the second,” Monk said. “I had another weak start and felt uncomfortable throughout the match.”
Michael King ’16 was also able to grab a victory in Vermont, as he was victorious in his first-round matchup over MIT player Eugene Oh 6-2, 6-2.
“In my first-round match, I was nice and relaxed, which allowed me to hit the ball with confidence, keep the ball deep, and stay in control of the point,” King said.
King ran into trouble when he met up with the fifth overall seed Palmer Campbell in the round of 32.
“In the second match, I was playing a kid from my town, Nashville, Tennessee, who I really wanted to beat,” King said. “The fact that I wanted to beat him so bad caused me to get tight, and as a result, I was hitting the ball way shorter than in my first match. I couldn’t keep the ball past the service line for the life of me.”
Because of this, the Middlebury player was able to take the first set with ease by a score of 6-3.
“After dropping the first set, I was hoping that I would loosen up and start playing better, but I just wasn’t playing good tennis, and the second set was worse than the first set,” King said. “I played very poorly and would say that this is the worst match that I’ve played in a few years.”
Campbell ended up taking the second set by a score of 6-1, winning the match.
“I’m not at all worried about this outcome, as I know that I’m a much better player than this result showed,” King said. “I’ve beaten him before, and I am very confident that come springtime when Middlebury comes to Wesleyan to play us, I’ll be relaxed and ready to take it to him.”
Michael Liu ’17 was able to win his first-round match against Amherst player Chris Dale by a score of 6-3, 6-4. In the next round, Middlebury’s All-American Alex Johnston took down Liu 7-5, 7-5 in a nail-biter.
Unlike his teammates, Jake Roberts ’17 was not able to advance past the first round, as Bowdoin’s Luke Trinka ousted him 6-3, 6-0.
As for the doubles play, the Redbirds entered Zachary Brint ’16 along with first-year player Cameron Hicks ’17, as well as Sam Rudovsky ’16 and Greg Lyon ’17.
The duo of Hicks and Brint quickly took care of Springfield’s tandem of Kyle Beynor and Justin Danielwicz, defeating them 8-1 in the first round. As for the round of 32, they were able to take down Bates teammates Ben Bogard and Peter Yanofsky 8-3.
“Chemistry with Cameron was solid, as it’s not easy to have perfect harmony after only playing with your partner for one week,” Brint said. “Synchronizing movement with a doubles partner takes time and, once achieved, is very fun to watch. Cam did an awesome job, and I’m looking forward to continuing to work with him.”
Unfortunately for the pair of Cardinals, their run came to an end in the quarterfinals, as they lost to the top-seeded Amherst pair of Aaron Rezvin and Michael Solimano by a score of 8-2.
“We played a solid Amherst team and performed very well,” Brint said. “The icing on the cake was there, but a bit of the cake was missing. We have Coach Fried and [Assistant Coach Steve] Milo there to add the necessary ingredients to make a delicious pastry. We had a few target errors on key points. It was a winnable match and, with a little work, we will be even more successful.”
Rudovsky and Lyon did not have the same luck, as a Colby twosome of Jason Ottomano and Luke Martin beat them in the first round.
The men’s tennis squad will look to finish the fall season on a high note when they face off against the Division I University of Hartford on Friday, Oct. 11 at 3 p.m.
“As we prepare for the final match of our fall season against Hartford, our entire team is going to pick up our level of on-court intensity and off-court training,” Monk said.