After spending Spring Break playing matches in Orlando the College’s men’s tennis team returned to the Northeast by splitting two games at home against Muhlenberg College and Kalamazoo College and also picking up a victory on the road against Swarthmore College.
“Playing outside in Florida during this time of year is usually a little different than playing outside in New
Jersey,” said head coach Scott Dicheck. “We were looking to win, but also looking to work on playing outside and getting into a rhythm.”
The Lions’ return to Ewing couldn’t have gone any better as they shutout Muhlenberg College 9-0 on Wednesday.
However, the Lions most exciting match of the week took place on the road against Swarthmore College on Saturday as they slipped past the Garnet by a score of 5-4.
Sophomore Steven Fernandez sealed the victory as he churned out an unforgettable performance against sophomore Steven Youngblood.
“I just knew the team needed a win,” Fernandez said. “So I just told myself to do it for the team basically.”
The two first singles players were the only ones left on the court as their teams were tied 4-4. Youngblood started out strong by taking the first set 6-4, but Fernandez responded by winning the second set 6-4.
The third set did not look to be in the Lions’ favor as Fernandez fell behind 4-2, but the sophomore rallied to take the final four points and the set by a score of 6-4.
“In that spot you have to fight for every point and give it your all,” Fernandez said.
Junior Dan Lee and freshman Keith Goldstein also contributed singles victories, while the team of Lee and junior Jonathan Yu, as well as the freshman pair of T.J. Riley and Dean Thompson, added doubles victories.
On Sunday the Lions would fall on the other side of a 5-4 battle in a loss to Kalamazoo College.
The Lions led the Hornets 2-1 after doubles play was over, but the Hornets edged out the Lions by taking four out of the six singles matches.
“We’ve had four matches this year come down to a 5-4 decision,” Dicheck said. “You’re going to win some and lose some, but they’re competing hard.”
The Lions doubles play looked promising as two of the three doubles teams finished the week 3-0 in doubles play. The team of Riley and Thompson won their match against the Hornets 8-5, while the team of Lee and Yu pulled out a nail-biting 9-8 victory.
Lee and Yu played each point hard as they went back and forth with senior Joe Unger and freshman Steve Hanselman until the Lion duo was able to close out the match.
“I was serving well and Jon was returning well,” said Lee. “We just took over the net. I think we kind of shocked them and they couldn’t really do anything. In the end, we just pulled through by being more aggressive.”
Lee also finished the week 3-0 in singles play as he took two sets, 6-3 and 6-2, against Unger.
“It’s just about staying focused,” Lee said. “The whole team is pretty close, so we drive each other to perform at our bests.”
The Lions will look to improve their 4-3 record as they head to Geneva, New York to face St. Lawrence University and Hobart College on March 27.
“We’re still in good position to make it to the NCAAs,” Dicheck said. “We just have to keep competing and fighting and do what we have to do to get into the NCAAs.”