Tennis finishes season with shutout victories

By Matthew Shaffer
Signal Contributor

To end their season, both the men’s and women’s tennis teams were able to take down their final opponents and gain a playoff spot. On April 24, the men’s team took on Stevens Institute of Technology followed by a weekend match on Saturday, April 27, as it went up against SUNY Oneonta at home. The women’s team traveled for the final regular season match, as it took on Haverford College on Friday, April 26.

Balijepalle tracks the ball before maintaining the volley (Photo courtesy of the Sports Information Desk).

The men’s tennis team traveled to Hoboken, New Jersey on April 24 to take on Stevens. After last year’s 7-2 loss, the Lions came out eager for revenge with an early 4-2 lead. With only three singles matches remaining, Stevens came back to win the rest to solidify a 5-4 win over the College. For the doubles matches, regionally ranked senior Tim Gavornik and freshman Matthew Michibata fell 8-5 to their foes from Stevens, who also happened to be regionally ranked. Their match was followed by a close 8-6 win courtesy of senior Mitchel Sanders and junior Gokul Murugesan. The duo of sophomore Andrew Mok and senior Matt Puig then won 8-5.

In singles, Michibata and Sanders secured two victories following respective losses in the first set. Freshman Justin Wain came out strong with a 6-1 first set, but could not hold off his opponent for two more sets. This win by Stevens tied things up, leaving senior Achyuth Balijepalle as the determining match. Balijepalle played a close set, winning 6-4 and then losing 7-5 and 6-4. The final score was 5-4 in favor of Stevens, leaving the last match against SUNY Oneonta as a chance to end the regular season on a winning note.

It was a rainy Friday in Ewing, but conditions were playable for the women’s team when the players traveled to Pennsylvania to take on Haverford. The Lions swept Haverford 9-0, as they finished their season with an impressive 9-4 record. With the win, the 37th ranked Lions secured a high seed in the NCAA tournament, awaiting their opponent selection in a press conference on Monday, May 6.

The double matches consisted of an 8-4 win at No. 1 by freshmen Katrine Luddy and Liya Davidov. The next match was an 8-5 victory from freshmen Navya Yemula and Julia Yoon, followed soon after by an 8-6 win at second doubles from senior Grace Minassian and junior Audrey Chen.

Singles play saw Minassian, Luddy and Chen go three sets for their victories. Davidov made short work of her opponent in first singles, leaving Yoon and Yemula as the final successors of the day. It was a strong team effort from the Lions, who are looking to carry their momentum into the playoffs.

The final match of the weekend was a brutal beatdown by the men’s team. The Lions swept SUNY Oneonta 9-0 on Senior Day, which left a memorable end to the season for graduating seniors Balijepalle, Gavornik, Jacob Kaminsky, Puig and Sanders.

The chemistry was on full display in doubles when Mok and Puig crushed their opponents 8-1. Likewise, Gavornik and Michibata concluded their match with an 8-2 performance, followed by an 8-5 win from Sanders and Murugesan.  

The Lions kept up the energy with five wins in straight sets from Sanders, Wain, Puig, Balijepalle and Kilibarda. Michibata won in three sets, which helped complete the sweep and send Oneonta to a 9-8 record.

Both the men’s and women’s teams finished the season with shutout wins, and have solidified a top seed in the NCAA tournament.

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