Tennis continues domination of foes

There’s a funny thing about domination in sports. Most of the time, it’s obvious, and everyone watching the game can see it unfolding clear as day. But sometimes, rarely, complete domination on the fields (or courts) of play is more sublime, almost as if those doing the dominating are simply allowing it to happen through them, rather than forcing it down the throats of their opposition.

Cruz spikes the serve. (Photo courtesy of the Sports Information Desk)

It was that second type of domination, the sublime and quiet kind, which the College’s men’s tennis team displayed this past weekend against Dickinson College and Virginia Wesleyan College. The Lions (2-0) triumphed over the visiting Red Devils (0-1) 9-0 on Saturday Feb. 23, and followed up that performance by beating the Marlins (0-3) 8-1 on Sunday morning, Feb. 24.

“We’ve had a great month of practice, so I even said to the guys during warm-ups that I expected us to play really well,” said head coach Scott Dicheck. “(The team) played tremendously, just everyone did.”

His players agree with his assessment.

“I felt really good today,” senior captain Marc Nichols said. “I played really well, stuck with my game plan and just really hit big forehands and big serves.”

The women were dominant as well, picking up wins by the scores of 9-0 and 7-2 against the same schools, respectively. Senior Karisse Bendijo won both her singles matches, as did freshman Emma Allen and sophomores Alex Bologno and Sarah Lippincott.

The doubles play was solid, as the teams of Bendijo and senior Allison Tierney, Allen and freshman Jasmine Muniz-Cadorette, and Bologno and Lippincott dominated Dickinson, while the Bendijo-Bologno and Allen Muniz Cadorette combinations were victorious against Virginia Wesleyan.

This kind of play is nothing new for the Lions, who were undefeated in the fall portion of the schedule and look to continue that streak.

For the men, Nichols was one of five players on the Lions who had wins in both singles and doubles matches on Saturday, alongside junior Howard Telson, sophomore Jack August and freshmen Billy Buchbinder and Pierce Cooper. Seniors Jordan Cruz and TJ Riley walked away with wins in doubles and singles, respectively.

Nearly the same results occurred on Sunday, with Cruz replacing August in singles play due to August’s injury concerns, and with the only blight on their otherwise flawless record being a 9-8 (7-4) loss for Nichols and Telson in doubles.

“I played pretty well, but I let him off a bit in the second set,” Riley said on Saturday, after winning his match 6-0, 6-4 (Riley won his singles match 6-0, 6-0 on Sunday).

Nichols also saw some room for improvement overall, as he too had more difficulties in his second sets (which he won 6-3 and 7-5 in singles) compared to his first (both 6-1).

“The biggest thing is to stay focused and make sure you finish the match,” Nichols said.

Finishing out the match wasn’t much of a struggle for the Lions, but blowing away the competition in the opening matches of the season is a good start and nothing more.

“We just have to build off of this, obviously part of it is staying healthy,” Dicheck said.

That staying healthy part has been a concern for some Lions.

“I usually start doubles, but due to injury, I’m not doing that right now,” Riley said. “I’m hoping to get back into doubles and keep playing solid tennis.”

Injury concerns or no, the future of this year’s team can easily be described as bright.

“I hope to keep winning and help the team, and as a team I hope we make nationals and do some damage there,” Nichols said.

Now that sounds like the kind of domination that’s the very opposite of sublime.