The clink of racquets, soft boom of Wilson #2 tennis balls against tarps and the determined “come on!” of raised fisted tennis players echoed through the Recreation Center basement this weekend as the men’s and women’s tennis teams took the courts to kick off the spring season.
Both teams tallied victories, but the men also suffered a 5-2 defeat from the nationally-ranked University of Mary Washington Eagles.
A Goucher College Gopher skipped back and forth closely in front of the net, returning each of Lions sophomores Ryan Carty and Corey Ball’s hits before the bounce, until the Lions finally hit it out of bounds. The Lions, however, soon returned one of the Gophers’ serves and the grey-shirted Gopher hit the net for a Lions point. After the Gophers came back to tie the score at 7-7, the Lions tandem finally defeated them 9-7.
“We didn’t play as good as yesterday,” Ball said. “But we won, so that’s all that matters.” The Lions swept doubles and won five of the six singles against Goucher College Sunday afternoon for the 6-1 win.
“They’re a good team,” head coach Scott Dicheck said. “They came out strong and energetic and our guys matched it. 6-1 sounds easy, but it’s just more credit to our guys, nothing against Goucher.”
Three full bleachers of about 35 parents and friends watched Saturday afternoon as Ryan Carty and the men’s Lions team sipped Gatorade and downed bananas, all in expectation for Carty’s next game against University of Mary Washington’s Paul Bristow.
The Lions’ top doubles tandem of Carty and Corey Ball had already upset Bristow and partner Nate Hathaway, ranked number six for doubles nationally, with a 9-7 win. The Eagles, however, won second and third doubles to take the doubles point.
After suffering a 6-0 loss in the first set, a pain-faced Carty started to come back in the second to take the set 7-6. He stood carefully on his left leg as his first serve bounced out of bounds, and his second hit the net.
“I had the momentum riding into the third set so you never know what could have happened,” Carty said. “I could have taken out the number seven kid in the nation.”
He was forced to retire, but after taking lots of fluids between the two matches and Pedialite throughout Sunday’s match, he was back in action to win both his doubles and singles matches against Goucher Sunday afternoon.
Fourth singles freshman Eric Ferriere, in his first collegiate win, defeated the Eagles’ Nate Hathaway 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.
“In the middle of the second set I broke his serve,” Ferriere said. “From then on I didn’t lose a game.”
Ball earned the Lions a second point in his fifth singles match against Erik Thorell.
“We had a lot of tough practices coming into this week,” Ball said. “They started before break and continued when we got back.”
When the women’s tennis team’s sophomore Ayumi Yamazaki was serving in a close 7-6 match against New York University (NYU), sophomore third doubles partner Karen Shih said she knew they would win.
“We knew that every match counted so we knew that it was important that we get the win,” Shih said.
Both second and third doubles won their matches in Sunday morning’s match that resulted in a 5-4 decision for the College. In addition to four singles points, sophomore second doubles Kristen Turturiello and senior Katie D’Amato won their match 9-8 to help Shih and Yamazaki take the doubles point for the Lions.
“This match just proved to us how tough the rest of the season is going to be,” Shih said. “But I definitely think that we have a strong team and hopefully make it to nationals.”
Dicheck said the women’s team feels it needs some improvement for the rest of the season.
“We played well enough to win, but we didn’t play our best,” Dicheck said. “Almost all the girls will tell you we need to improve.”
“I don’t think anyone is really satisfied with how they played the entire day,” Turturiello said. “But it was our first match and for the most part we did well. I just think those close matches cannot be that close with a team like NYU.”
The women have a tough match coming up against nationally ranked Muhlenberg College, which they beat 5-4 for the past two years. Dicheck said the men have some close matches as they square off against Bates, Rochester, Wheaton and New York University in coming weeks.
Both the men’s and women’s teams hope to make it to nationals this year. The women were ranked 23rd nationally last year.
“This team at this point is as good as any I’ve ever coached,” Dicheck said about the men’s team. “They have a good chance.”
The men’s tennis team will face off at home against Stevens Institute of Technology on Saturday.