Following a decisive victory over Brandeis University last weekend, the men’s tennis team looked to continue its climb up the national rankings with matches against ranked conference rivals Bowdoin and Bates on Saturday and Sunday. However, the Cardinals would leave Maine empty-handed, falling to both schools in two hard-fought matches and putting their goal of reaching postseason play at risk.
“The Bowdoin match was probably the most disappointing of the year thus far,” Dhruv Yadav ’18 said. “It was our first true away match of the season and we simply didn’t play up to the standard we are capable of, and we were not up for the challenge. In addition to that, Bowdoin played an excellent match; they are an extremely talented and hardworking team. I’m sure they’ll probably go far this year.”
The Polar Bears did indeed show that they deserved to be ranked among the nation’s best, blanking the Cardinals in doubles 8-2, 8-3, and 8-4 respectively, and proceeding to take five of six matches in singles.
Mike Liu ’17 was Wesleyan’s lone victor at first singles, relying on powerful ground strokes to capture a 6-4, 7-5 victory over a tough opponent. Yadav was also impressive at fifth singles, securing the first set of his match in a hard-fought tiebreak before losing the remaining two sets, 5-7 and 4-6. Jake Roberts ’17 and Steven Chen ’18 were both vanquished by tough adversaries at second and third singles, while Win Smith ’18 and Sam Rudovsky ’16 both fell in the bottom half of the ladder by a score of 2-6, 2-6.
“We came out a bit flat in doubles against a team where we had no margin for error to do so,” Roberts said. “On most courts, that doubles attitude carried over into our singles play. Against a team that good, we can’t start slow. It was a disappointing match, but our team learned a lot from it.”
The team did not face Bowdoin last year, but the Cardinals’ last victory against the Polar Bears dates back to spring of 1991.
The next day, the Cardinals suffered a hard-fought loss to Bates, another NESCAC competitor. Wes took two of the three doubles matches, winning at first and third dubs. Singles was a different story, as the Bobcats handled the Cardinals, winning four of the six matches.
Greg Lyon ’17, who played at the second doubles spot that dropped their match 4-8, noted the effect of such a humbling defeat.
“Losing a 5-4 match is a tough one to swallow,” Lyon said. “We’ll come back stronger though.”
The match was knotted up at four, with Cameron Daniels ’18 still on court heading into a third set. Liu and Yadav both were victors at first and fourth singles, respectively. Daniels dropped the third, 6-1. In a match that looked more like a level of second doubles rather than sixth, Daniels couldn’t keep up with a serve that was harder than most in the NESCAC.
“I thought Bates was a great team up and down the lineup,” Liu said. “We fought hard, and even though we didn’t come out with a win, I felt like we learned a lot from the match.”
Life doesn’t get any easier for the Cardinals in the upcoming week with another NESCAC rival on Saturday: Connecticut College. Wes ousted the Camels 6-2 just one season ago. Their Sunday match against Wash. U was canceled. The Cardinals are going to have to play well to turn around their slow start this spring.