By KATE LEBOFF
The University of Mary Washington men’s tennis team put their talent on display last Thursday, April 5, when the Eagles toppled Christopher Newport University, 7-2. It was a group of youngsters that led the way for UMW, as three freshmen – Evan Charles, Tyler Carey, and Kaleb Nguyen – and sophomore captain Riley Baver won four of the six singles matches played.
The Eagles not only performed well in the singles competition, but Head Coach Todd Helbling’s team swept the three doubles matches as well. The explosive freshmen pair of Evan Charles and Donato Rizzolo edged the Captains No. 1 team of Matt King and Eric Shulman, 8-6.
“I was glad Rizzolo and I could beat a team in doubles that we had lost to in the fall,” Charles said.”
King and Shulman had defeated the No. 1 Eagles’ doubles tandem back in a tournament during the fall season. The close victory in Newport News last Thursday allowed Charles and Rizzolo to redeem themselves from that earlier loss.
The second Eagles double team, comprised of sophomore Alex Blakhin and freshman Tyler Carey, took their match 8-4 over CNU’s pairing of Gianandrea Heyer and Joey Manilla. The third and final doubles match was won by the Eagles’ duo of Baver and freshman Kaleb Nguyen, who notched the 8-3 victory.
Helbling was pleased with his team’s performance and was happy to pull out the win.
“A very solid win for the program,” Helbling said. “CNU has two outstanding players, Matt King and Eric Shulman, involved in playing four different positions. UMW won three out of four matches against those two.”
The team is still relatively young, as Helbling has gone the majority of the year with four freshmen and one sophomore starting in doubles and three freshmen playing major roles in singles competition. The success of the young Eagles has been crucial, particularly because one of the top players with more experience, junior Sam Wichlin, has been out for an extended period of time with a pulled lat muscle.
With the latest resounding win, the No. 25 men’s tennis team has improved their record to 11-11 on the season. The relatively inexperienced bunch has been earning their stripes lately, as after a brutal early schedule they have rebounded to win their last six matches.
Helbling’s team will next take the courts this Saturday, April 14, when they partake in a road doubleheader against Swarthmore College and then at Wesley College.