After suffering two hard-fought losses to Bowdoin and Bates last weekend, the men’s tennis team looked to bounce back on its home turf at John Wood Memorial Tennis Courts with a match against conference rival Conn. College Saturday afternoon.
The team did so in striking fashion, defeating the Camels by a score of 9-0 and climbing to 6th place in the NESCAC. The Cardinals had a match scheduled for this past Sunday against the third-ranked team in the nation, Washington University in St. Louis, but the contest was cancelled due to poor weather conditions.
“It was crucial for us to get this win after last weekend’s matches, and I’m glad we were able to do so,” said Stephen Monk ’15. “We played very well as a team and hopefully we can carry this momentum into our next match.”
The Cardinals looked impressive on every court, blanking the Camels in doubles and winning outright in singles without so much as dropping a set. First-years Stephen Chen and Win Smith dominated in second doubles, breezing past their opponents 8-2 without breaking a sweat. Michael Liu ’17 and Zacko Brint ’16 also recorded a high-energy win at first doubles by a score of 8-5. Finally, Jake Roberts ’17 and Sam Rudovsky ’16 completed the sweep with an 8-1 triumph at third doubles.
In singles, Liu earned his fourth consecutive win at the top of the squad with a 6-3, 6-2 thrashing that lasted under an hour. Chen was victorious at first singles by a score of 7-5, 6-1, while Roberts posted a 7-6, 6-2 win at third singles. Dhruv Yadav ’18 got his revenge on an old adversary by a score of 6-0, 6-3 at fourth singles, and Smith took care of business at fifth singles in straight sets, only dropping two games in each set. Cam Daniels ’18 closed the match with a 6-4, 6-0 triumph at sixth singles. While all the matches proved effective in boosting team morale, Yadav claimed his victory to be particularly meaningful; the last time he faced the same player, Yadav tore the meniscus in his right knee, sidelining him for the better part of a year.
“Playing against that same opponent was hard because it brought back some painful memories,” Yadav said. “I was especially happy to get that win, and even more so because it helped us get our first NESCAC win of the season.”
Saturday’s victory marked Wesleyan’s third straight win over Conn. College, yet the last time the Cardinals blanked the Camels dates back to the 2005 season. It was the team’s 13th win over Conn. College in the last 15 meetings. Wesleyan is now 22-18 all-time versus their intrastate opponents.
Despite the team’s impressive performance, Rudovsky insists that the Cardinals’ work is far from over.
“All week, we practiced with a purpose, and the results showed on match day,” he said. “It’s imperative that we keep up the same intensity before and during the Williams match next Saturday.”
The Cardinals will indeed have their work cut out for them next weekend when they face the Ephs, currently 14th in the ITA Division III National Rankings. The Cardinals sit only four spots back in the standings after jumping 16 spots over spring break. The match will be held at Wesleyan on Saturday, April 11 at 1 p.m.
Last season, in his first collegiate tennis match, Roberts picked up a crucial win at first singles, 6-3, 6-4 against an opponent who led the Ephs ladder during their run to a Division III National Championship a year prior. The Birds lost that match 2-7, with the other triumph coming at third singles from Michael King ’16, 6-1, 5-7, 10-6.
Wesleyan has not beaten Williams since the 1971 season. The Cardinals have an all-time record of 5-93-3 against the squad from Williamstown and have failed to win more than two points in a contest since 1987.