While a series of tight losses dashed hopes of a NESCAC tournament bid, the men’s tennis team looked to finish the season with pride when they took on Washington and Lee University last Thursday and faced conference rivals Colby and Hamilton this past weekend.
Despite what many team members labeled as a somewhat disappointing season, the Cardinals showed signs of success over the course of these three matches, walloping Washington and Lee 9-0 and earning 7-2 and 9-0 victories over Colby and Hamilton, respectively. The team finished the spring season with a 6-8 record overall and a 3-5 conference record.
“It felt good to end this season on a high note,” said Cameron Hicks ’17. “We showed a lot of team unity throughout these three matches.”
Michael Liu ’17 led the Cardinals’ charge in their first ever match against Washington and Lee, defeating his opponent 6-4, 6-3 at first singles and teaming up with Zacko Brint ’16 to give Wesleyan its first doubles point with an 8-4 win.
Steven Chen ’18 was equally impressive at second singles, grinding out a 6-4, 6-1 victory after posting an 8-6 win in doubles with partner Win Smith ’18. At third singles, Jake Roberts ’17 coasted to a 6-4, 6-1 victory and completed the doubles sweep with partner Sam Rudovsky ’16 by a score of 8-3. Dhruv Yadav ’18, Smith, and Brint also recorded wins at fourth, fifth, and sixth singles.
The squad carried its dominant play into Saturday’s match against Colby, with Chen and Roberts posting impressive victories for the Cards at second and third singles. At the top of the ladder, Liu would fall 0-6, 3-6, while Yadav gave the Cardinals a point at third singles by a score of 6-2, 6-1 at four singles. Smith and Brint also grinded out victories at fifth and sixth singles. In doubles, the pair of Liu and Brint were pushed to the limit by their opponents but still managed to secure a 9-8 tiebreak win. Chen and Smith coasted to a nearly effortless 8-3 victory at second doubles, while Roberts and Rudovsky fell at third doubles by a score of 3-8. Wesleyan is now 7-9 all-time against the Mules, though the last three meetings have gone in favor of the Cardinals.
In their final match of the season, the Cardinals blanked Hamilton, 9-0. Liu posted a 6-3, 6-0 win at first singles, while Chen and Yadav both earned their eighth dual match victory at second and fourth singles, winning 6-0, 6-2 and 6-2, 6-1, respectively. Roberts and Smith were also victorious at the third and fifth spot. Meanwhile, Stephen Monk ’15 finished his Wesleyan tennis career with a 6-0, 6-2 thrashing at sixth singles. The Cardinals would only lose three games total in all three doubles matches, cementing their 9-0 victory. Wesleyan has now defeated Hamilton in four consecutive seasons.
“It was awesome that we ended the season with three wins, especially the victory against Colby,” said Greg Lyon ’17. “I am proud of my teammates and fully confident that this win streak will carry over into next season.”
While the Cardinals might not have called their season a resounding success, the players appear content to view their play throughout the year as something to build upon.
“I felt like this weekend, and most of the matches we played this season, was a great learning experience for us,” Liu said. “The three weekend matches exposed new strengths and weaknesses that we will need to work on this offseason. I’m confident that next year our level of play will jump to new heights.”