The men’s tennis team capped off its regular season on Sunday, April 27 with a 6-3 win at home over Bates. The Cards ended a three-game losing skid and finished the roller-coaster year at 9-6 overall with a conference record of 4-5. They were 2-2 at home, 3-3 on the road, and 4-1 when playing on a neutral court. Compared to last year, there was an improvement in the overall record, but a drop in the NESCAC portion of the schedule, as the squad was 7-10, 5-4 NESCAC in 2013.
“I thought we played a great match against Bates and it was a great way to finish the season,” said Head Coach of Tennis Michael Fried. “With Bates having beaten number 12 nationally ranked Bowdoin earlier in the week, it kind of validates our progress amongst the top teams in both the conference and the country.”
The Redbirds started the season finale off a bit shaky, dropping two out of the three doubles matches. Jake Roberts ’17 and Captain Sam Rudovsky ’16 came up short at first doubles, losing 8-3 to Timmy Berg and Pierre Planche. Second doubles also proved to be a defeat for the Cardinals, as Zacko Brint ’16 and Charlie Seifer ’15 fell to Bobcats Ben Bogard and Peter Yanofsky 8-6. However, Roberts and Brint would both be able to inflict revenge on their opponents during the singles portion of the contest. Wesleyan’s sole doubles victory came when freshman duo Greg Lyon and Cameron Hicks took to the court against Bates players Eric Ruta and Henry Lee. The Wes pair was victorious 8-4.
Wesleyan came back strong in the singles session, winning five out of the six matches. At first singles, Roberts was once again on the court facing Berg in his match, and this time Roberts won in straight sets 6-3, 6-4. Brint, eager to play Bogard for the second time that day, made easy work of his opponent in the first set, winning 6-2. The second set was a little tougher for Brint, but the same result ensued as he prevailed 7-5 to take the match.
Michael Liu ’17 was the only Cardinal to have his match go to a third and deciding set. At second singles, Liu took the first set 6-2 before dropping the middle set to Planche by the same score. Liu fought back in the rubber set to take the match by a score of 6-4.
“Mike [Liu] and I just talked about returning to the game plan that he executed so well in the first set, and I reminded him that his mental toughness is a significant weapon,” Fried said.
Captain Stephen Monk ’15 made quick work of Lee, only dropping one game throughout the two sets en route to a 6-1, 6-0 third singles victory. At fourth singles, Rudovsky also had no trouble handling his Bates opponent. The sophomore only gave up two games throughout the match, winning 6-1, 6-1.
“I think the match yesterday with Bates was the brightest part of the season,” Fried said. “We had a great, very successful spring trip and some strong NESCAC wins, but avenging last year’s NESCAC loss to Bates by playing as well as we did perhaps shines brightest.”
The only singles loss of the day for the Cardinals came at fifth singles, where Patrick Ordway defeated Michael King ’16 in the first set 6-0. King’s play picked up after not winning a game in the first set, but it still wasn’t enough: he was downed 7-5 in the second set.
After balancing high expectations with an experienced team, the Cardinals will wait to see whether or not they are postseason-bound. The NESCAC teams do not all play one another or the same number of games during the regular season, so a committee of four coaches decides which of the six teams will qualify for the playoffs.
Trinity, Tufts, and Wesleyan are battling for the final two spots in the playoffs. Trinity has the best conference win-loss percentage at .500, but played one fewer game than the Jumbos or Cardinals. Trinity defeated Wesleyan 5-4 earlier in the season at John Wood Memorial Courts. The Bantams also conquered Tufts 6-3 in Claremont, CA during their spring break trip. The Jumbos, sitting at .400 in the conference, are below the Cardinals in the standings, who have a NESCAC record of .444, but defeated the Redbirds earlier in the year 8-1 and played one more conference match than Wesleyan.
“Unfortunately, it looks like we’re going to lose the complicated tiebreaker for the NESCAC’s selection,” Fried said. “This is primarily as the result of the head-to-head loss with Tufts.”
No matter what the committee decides, the Wesleyan tennis program has a lot to look forward to in the future, with a majority of the players being underclassmen and a strong recruiting class coming to campus in the fall. Cards’ tennis is earning respect for successful play and is poised to remain prevalent in the NESCAC for the foreseeable future.
“I expect the team to continue to train extremely hard, both on and off the court, through the off-season,” Fried said. “I’m excited to integrate our highly talented incoming class with our returning team members and very much looking forward to next season.”