There was one more match to go for the College’s men’s tennis team to achieve the illustrious perfect season. Unfortunately for them, they could not pull out the victory, dropping a heartbreaker to Stevens Institute of Technology, 6-3, giving them their first loss of the season in what will at the very least make them better.
“Our team didn’t have its A-game,” senior T.J. Riley said. “Stevens is a great team, but we definitely came out slow. Going undefeated is tough and we did a great job this season.”
The Lions (14-1) fell into a hole early after after losing all of the doubles matches. When singles play opened up, however, the team bounced back. Senior Jordan Cruz won an incredibly tight contest, squeaking out a 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-4) victory that saw him victorious in two tiebreakers. Freshman Pierce Cooper continued his stellar play, winning his match 6-1, 6-0. Then junior Howard Telson won his first set 6-3, lost in his second set 1-6, and responded by whipping his opponent in the third set, 6-0.
However, the College could not do anything more against the Ducks, as senior March Nichols, Riley and sophomore Jack August were unable to secure wins.
“We need to regain focus,” Riley said. “It’s hard to have a perfect season ruined in the last match, so we need to get back into that winning mentality and play smart tennis.”
As for the women, they won their final two games of the regular season, defeating SUNY New Paltz 5-4 and dropping SUNY Geneseo, 6-3.
“We had a lot of hits to our lineup, but we managed to pull through and really support each other as a team,” freshman Jasmine Muniz-Cadorette said. “Ending with a win was certainly the best thing I could ask for. Because it was the senior match, I really wanted to do my absolute best to contributing to the team’s win.”
The first match against SUNY New Paltz saw the two teams battling back and forth. Senior Allison Tierney won her match at an impressive 6-0, 6-2 mark. Freshman Jasmine Muniz-Cadorette, who has been a huge factor as a rookie, was nearly as effective, winning 6-2, 6-4. Finally, the Lions’ third and final singles winner, sophomore Alex Bologno, defeated her opponent by the score of 6-3, 6-2.
“I really pushed myself the whole season to perform at my best because I knew that I was going to be playing some very good players,” Muniz-Cadorette said. “I think I performed as well as I did because of the encouragement from the entire coaching staff, the support from my team and just the internal motivation I had to make my team proud.”
Tierney teamed with sophomore Sarah Lippincott to win a crucial doubles match 8-4, while Bologno and junior Tara Criscuolo won by the slimmest of margins, 9-8 (7-4).
On Saturday, April 27, the strong doubles play is what led the Lions to victory. The teams consisted of Bendijo/Tierney, Muniz-Cadorette/sophomore Emma Allen and Bologno/Criscuolo.
Bendijo, Tierney and Bologno were the singles stars, with the two seniors winning their final regular season match. Bendijo picked up a 6-4, 6-4 win, while Tierney cruised to a 6-0, 6-2 W. Bologno was successful, winning by a score of 6-3, 6-0.
“As the captains, both really lead the team and paved the way for the rest of us,” Muniz-Cadorette said. “Just watching them compete really helped me to develop as a player. I was able to learn from more experienced players who were so willing to help us with both singles and doubles. On top of it all, Allie and Karisse are such amazing people. They were extremely supportive during every match, even if I was having an off day.”
With the regular season over, the two teams are looking ahead to the postseason, specifically the NCAA Division III tournament. The field will be announced on Monday, May 6, and the Lions have high hopes for what they can accomplish. With the success that the College had both this season and historically, the sky is the limit.
“Our goal is to prove ourselves as a team worth recognition,” Riley said. “As of now, big teams don’t really think of us as a threat and they should.”