The men’s tennis team capped off the 2013 fall season in style by shutting out the University of Hartford, 9-0. The team was firing on all cylinders, as four players were victorious in their singles and doubles matches.
“The team played well on Friday,” said Head Coach Michael Fried. “It’s always nice to beat a quality Division I team, and it’s certainly enjoyable to end the fall season on a high note. I think the team knows that there’s much to be done, both individually and collectively, in order to compete with the best teams in both our conference and the country during the spring season. Moreover, I think that we’re ready and excited to do the work, so that we can see how good our team can get.”
Junior captain Stephen Monk led the fierce charge for the Cardinals, taking down his opponent at number four singles in straight sets. Monk surrendered only one game in his dominant performance over the Hartford player.
“In the singles match, my opponent and I played similar styles, but my ball was a little bit heavier and deeper than his,” Monk said. “I was able to wait for the opportunity to get myself in an offensive position and then win the point at net.”
Monk also teamed up with sophomore Michael King in order to effortlessly pick apart a Harford duo at number three doubles.
“Stephen and I play a similar style of tennis,” King said. “I would say that our approaches to the game are very comparable: we both like to make a lot of balls. The main difference in our styles is that I like to advance and finish at the net more than he does.”
Though it was their first time playing together, King and Monk were able to adjust to one another quickly.
“We focused on communication and positive reinforcement, and our chemistry improved as the match went along,” Monk said. “We returned well and took over the net effectively.”
The two Redbirds won their match, 8-2, and were extremely pleased with their performance afterwards.
“In doubles, I think that we were playing better than they were that day,” King said. “We had better volleys and better returns, and we missed less balls than they did.”
King also had some of his own success on the singles side as he defeated his opponent at number two singles in two sets.
“In my singles match, I was playing some of my best tennis,” King said. “I felt like I literally couldn’t miss, and everything I hit was going to be gold. My strategy was to hit high, heavy, deep balls and move him from side to side, and then eventually he would give me a short ball, and I would approach off of it and finish at the net. I also felt great at the net. Once I got the break in the first set, I was on cruise control for the rest of the match.”
Joining the party was sophomore captain, Sam Rudovsky, who made quick work of his third singles opponent, 6-0, 6-2.
“I recognized early on that he wasn’t very mentally tough,” Rudovsky said. “I knew I had to keep the ball deep to his backhand and the rest would take care of itself.”
First-year player Greg Lyon teamed up with Rudovsky at number two singles and pulled out a tight match, 8-6.
“We were the last match on,” Rudovsky said. “There were a lot of rowdy Hartford students surrounding the courts, and it was all about staying loose and focused on each point. Really, we just needed to remain relaxed. Greg did that better than I did; he played some of the sickest doubles I’ve ever seen.”
Lyon created tension throughout the day: he also won his number six singles match in thrilling fashion, 12-10.
“Like the rest of the team, Greg played very good tennis,” Fried said. “His opponent battled every step of the way, and Greg showed good fight and composure in pulling out a tight win.”
Fellow first-year players Jake Roberts and Michael Liu both captured straight-set victories at first and fifth singles.
Wesleyan continued an efficacious afternoon with the first doubles match. The results were the same, as Zachary Brint ’16 and Cameron Hicks ’17 continued their success together by beating a Hartford twosome, 8-4.
“This victory was big for our team because a 9-0 win gives us a lot of confidence and shows that we can win in every spot up and down the lineup,” King said. “Also, moving forward into the offseason, it will hopefully motivate our team to work hard, so that we can continue the good results.”
After wrapping up the season on a hot streak, the players will look to improve their tennis game, as well as become stronger and fitter.
“We certainly have much to work…in order to be where we want to be in the spring season, but we played quite well for this point in the year and everyone on the team contributed to the win,” Fried said.
They are hoping that dedication in the winter will translate to success in the spring, when the team will face off against many dangerous NESCAC opponents.
“While we’re happy to come out on top, we have to keep the mentality that we’re never satisfied,” Rudovsky said. “That’s what drove us last year, and this year should be no different.”