The College’s men’s and women’s tennis teams spent their spring break in Florida, opening the spring season in winning fashion. While the men played in various tournaments in the fall, their official season began last Sunday, March 6, at the University of Rochester. The Lions opened with a sweeping 9-0 victory over the Yellowjackets, with all singles matches won in just two sets.
In doubles action, seasoned first doubles senior Jeremy Eckhardt and sophomore T.J. Riley began their spring season with an 8-3 victory. Senior Jonathan Yu teamed up with sophomore Dean Thompson to win their match 8-2. In the final doubles match, junior Stewart Fernandez and freshman Howard Telson beat senior Dan Barbash and freshman Phillip Kellogg 8-4.
“(Fernandez) has become a mentor to me on and off the court, showing me the ins and outs of the doubles game,” Telson said. “He has an uncanny ability of easing my nerves, and I feel our chemistry on court definitely shows. We have similar games with our big serves and forehands, but we have little differences as well. I think these similarities and differences make us complement each other very well and make us one dangerous doubles team.”
While their second match wasn’t a 9-0 thrashing, the Lions still had an impressive 7-2 triumph over Coe College the very next day. Both Eckhardt and Riley went four for four during the team’s stay in Florida.
“My personal goals are actually based solely on the team’s goals,” Riley said. “We all want the same thing and that is to be the best men’s tennis team to ever come out of (the College) and this season that is definitely a possibility. With our work ethic and team dynamic we could be the best that has ever played for this school.”
Thompson made his solo season debut at fourth singles, taking down junior Jonathan Roger 6-4, 6-2. In the sixth and final singles position, junior Dan Lee was able to defeat freshman Jeff Damisch 6-2, 6-3. Other notable performances include Fernandez and Telson’s 8-2 doubles victory.
“The team this year is really something special,” Telson said. “We have such depth and such a talented squad that it is nearly impossible to pinpoint any one position as our strength. I feel our doubles teams are extremely solid and will be real tough to beat.”
The women’s team also travelled to Florida to play two matches in Florida in preparation for the NCAA tournament. On Sunday, they defeated the University of Rochester as well by a score of 6-3. The Lions started off rocky, as the top three singles positions dropped their matches. Sophomore Paige Aiello beat junior Danielle Shreck 6-3, 6-1 in fourth singles. Sophomore Lauren Balsamo and junior Emily Petersack took down junior Jamie Bow 6-2, 6-3 and sophomore Hayley Brower 6-0, 6-3 respectively.
The Lions swept doubles; sophomore Karisse Bendijo and junior Allison Tierney defeated sophomore Frances Tseng and junior Alexandra Goodman 8-5. Aiello and Balsamo had a close match, getting the better of senior Lia Weiner and Bow 9-8 (8-6). Finally, Petersack and junior Felice Trinh beat Shreck and freshman Janice Zhao.
A day later they took on Coe College and won 5-4, extending their spring record to 2-0. The sophomore trio of Aiello, Balsamo and Petersack once again won their respective matches in the fourth, fifth and sixth singles positions. Aiello’s match proved to be the tie-breaker, her 6-1, 6-4 victory over sophomore Sara Ohlman giving the Lions the win. Aiello combined with Balsamo as the pair swept Ohlman and senior Natalie Bordignon 8-0. Also pulling off a win in doubles were Petersack and Trinh, who defeated senior Hannah Jensen and freshman Elizabeth Hoffmann 8-2.
The women’s team continues their season March 19 versus Williams College. The men’s team brings their 2-0 record home on March 22 against Muhlenberg College.