The men’s tennis team had another tough slate of competition this week. Wesleyan hosted Williams on Sat. April 11, taking three of the nine matches. While the score was still lopsided in the Ephs’ favor, the Cardinals had not taken three wins off of Williams since 1987. The Cards traveled to Trinity on Wed. April 15, to drop another close match, this time 5-4.
The 14th nationally ranked Ephs have had Wes’s number for the past few decades. With a young, revamped roster, the Cards were poised to push Williams to the brink. Steven Chen ’18 led the charge, winning 6-4, 6-1 at second singles, and 8-2 at second doubles alongside Win Smith ’18. Dhruv Yadav ’18 picked up the third point at fourth singles, 6-1, 6-2.
Despite the strong showing, the Cards couldn’t find another two wins. At the top of of the ladder, Michael Liu ’17, as well as Smith at fifth singles both lost in three sets. Liu took the first set 6-4, but then dropped the next two, 4-6 and 3-6, respectively. Smith fell in the first set 5-7 before bouncing back in the middle frame, 6-4, but ultimately lost the final set, 6-3. Jake Roberts ’17 fell in straight sets, both in tiebreaks. Roberts also lost in a tiebreak at third doubles with Sam Rudovsky ’16, 8-9. Zacko Brint ’16 and Lui lost at first doubles, 8-4, and Cameron Daniels ’18 fell in a two tight sets, 4-6, 6-7.
Greg Lyon ’17 had some positive words after the game.
“We fought hard against Williams,” Lyon noted. “Both teams are really young, and it came down to the wire. It’s awesome that two years ago they won the championship and now we are competing with them. I think next year we will take them.”
The Cards knew they would have to bounce back quickly for their match at Trinity. Trinity has also had the Cardinals’ number in recent memory, winning 13 of the last 15 matches. Unfortunately, the trend continued with the Cardinals only winning four of the nine matches.
Chen rolled over his opponent at second doubles, 6-2, 6-0. Yadav dug deep in his match at fourth singles, squeaking out a three-set win. Rounding out the singles, number six Daniels took his match in two tiebreaks. The Redbirds lost the remaining three singles matches. In doubles, Roberts and Rudovsky smacked their opponents 8-1 at third singles.
Overall, this was tough loss for the team to swallow.
“The team played with a lot of heart, and although we are disappointed in the loss, we are looking forward to our match on Sunday,” Liu wrote in an email to The Argus. “I have a lot of faith in this teams capabilities, and am confident we can pull out some important wins.”
The Sunday match looms large for the postseason, and Amherst, which is ranked fourth nationally, won’t be an easy match at all. The Cardinals were 22nd entering the Trinity match, and almost surely will topple a bit in their ranking. Asked about how the team can improve, Liu gave his best assessment.
“We just have to keep working on our fundamentals,” Liu said. “We are playing well against tough opponents, we need to start turning some of these close matches into wins.”
The Cardinals will have a few days of practice to try to find their groove again. Sitting at fourth-to-last place in the NESCAC with a 1-4 in-conference mark, now is the time, more than ever, to start stringing together some wins.
“As of right now, it’s going to be hard to make the NESCAC tournament even,” Lyon said. “We’ve lost quite a few 5-4 matches so we really have to beat Amherst.”