By Nicholas Haff
The action on the tennis court heated up last Saturday, Sep. 7 as the Lions hosted the Drew University Rangers and the Franklin and Marshall Diplomats in its annual TCNJ Doubles Tournament. The Lions were featured in 15 doubles and three singles sets throughout the duration of the match, winning 14 of the day’s 18 sets.
There was one common theme erupting in every round of play throughout the afternoon: close sets. Out of the 21 sets played in total Saturday, only five ended 8-0, and 12 of the sets ended at 8-4 or closer. These longer sets push the players to the limit and test out their ability to close out games.
Between every pair of games within a set, it is not uncommon for the coaches or assistant coaches to talk to the players during their break and give them advice on finishing off strong.
“There’s going to be ups and downs in matches, so you take the full 90 second break to clear your head,” head coach Scott Dicheck said about these pep talks. “Sometimes you see what the other team is doing and make adjustments.”
Dicheck also mentioned that if the players are falling behind, or just lost a few games, that their main focus is just “forgetting about the down side of those couple you lost and moving on.”
Senior Howard Telson and sophomore Billy Buchbinder led the Lions’ charge, facing off against two Diplomat duos and one Rangers duo on the day. Telson and Buchbinder won all three of their sets by scores of 8-3, 8-4 and closing out a close set 8-5.
Following in their footsteps was the duo of sophomore Pierce Cooper and freshman Mike Stanley, who ended up taking down two Rangers duos and one Diplomats duo by scores of 8-1, 8-2 and 8-4 respectively.
Duo of freshman Alec Grossman and junior Andrew Grossman also maneuvered their way to winning two out of three sets by scores of 8-0 and 8-3, only losing a tight set to the Diplomats by a score of 8-5.
Also winning two sets on the day was the duo of senior Gabe Allen and freshman Andrew Statkevich, along with sophomores Erza Klemow and Dan Presuto. Klemow and Presuto managed a monumental comeback in their second match-up of the day, winning their final games down the stretch to close their set out 8-6. Meanwhile, Allen and Statkevich played the final set of the day, fighting back against their diplomat opponent. Down 6-7 at one point in the set. The duo charged back in a nail-biting finish, winning the final 3 games down the stretch to win the set 9-7.
Winning 14 of their 18 sets on the day, the Lions are looking forward to their next few weeks, hosting the Lion’s Fall Tournament Saturday, Sept. 14 coming up, followed next week by their three day long ITA Northeast Regional, taking place in Ithaca.
“The hardest part is coming back after a day like today, so that’s why they’re coming back tomorrow for a 3 hour practice, so the’re getting used to having their bodies respond to a tough day,” DiCheck said.
The men’s tennis team is warming up and preparing themselves to be major contenders in the regional tournament. If they keep playing the way they did in the doubles tournament, there is no question, they are poised to do make an impact on the regional contest.