Fresh off of an impressive win over the Stevens Institute of Technology, the men’s tennis squad made the trek up to Williams College to compete in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) regional tournament. The Cardinals continued their strong fall season with plenty of impressive performances.
The format of the tournament differed from the first match of the fall, which followed the dual match model of the spring season. The ITA tournament features singles and doubles draw play in a knockout-style tournament. Wesleyan had five singles players and two doubles pairs in a field that featured the most talented collegiate players from the region.
Leading the charge for Wesleyan was Steven Chen ’18, who nearly repeated his runner-up finish from a year ago. Chen won his first four matches to reach the semifinals and set up a matchup with second-seeded Noah Farrell of Middlebury. Farrell wound up victorious in two sets and went on to win the tournament in the next round.
The rest of Wesleyan’s singles players fared well, as Jake Roberts ’17 went 2-1, beating the number one from Tufts in three sets by a narrow margin of 6-3, 3-6, 7-6. Joachim Samson ’19 won his first match against Bowdoin’s top player with an impressive 6-3, 6-1 score but then had to withdraw in the second round due to cramping. Mike Liu ’17 went 1-1, losing to a Williams player in a grueling three set match 4-6, 6-0, 4-6, and Dhruv Yadav ’18 lost in the first round.
In the doubles bracket, Chen and Zacko Brint ’16 went 1-1, and Yadav and Win Smith ’18 lost in the first round.
“We had a pretty good tournament as a team,” Roberts said. “It’s a tournament that we all look forward to every year as a familiarity to junior tennis in that its individual with a draw, but also you get the support of teammates.”
The physical preparation for an individual tournament is comparable to that of a normal dual match. However, playing in a tournament with multiple rounds requires a different mentality than that required for dual matches.
“I think that the prep for the tournament was very similar to our prep for dual matches,” Liu said. “Most people went into the tournament honing strengths and practicing weaknesses. The mentality that everyone had was different, however, since the entire tournament is based on individual results. I think that taking it one match at a time is very important. Present minded thinking, combined with a lot of self-confidence, helps individuals play to their potential.”
With the recent cancellation of the upcoming Quinnipiac Invitational, the ITA regional tournament served as the final competition of the fall season. The Cardinals have made great strides and have shown considerable improvements throughout the fall.
“I feel like the biggest improvement that the team made over the fall season is our fitness,” Liu concluded. “We really focus on our conditioning more in practices, and the results have definitely shown in our games.”
Even though the results of the fall season were promising, the Cardinals realize there is still an incredible amount of work to do to achieve their goals in the spring season.
“[The spring season] is a long way off, but we got the first dual match win out of the way, and gained some experience,” Roberts noted. “The true preparation is from now until spring. I think the maturity we have gained to get the most out of every practice is something invaluable that will pay off down the road. Specifically, I’d say serves have gotten better across the table.”
With the fall season officially over, the team enters the winter offseason on a positive note, but with a lot of preparation for the spring season still ahead. The Cards hope to improve upon their 3-5 NESCAC record and earn a postseason berth for the first time since 2013.