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The Blue & Gray Press | February 25, 2018

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Eagles trounce two on court

By STEPHEN CAMPBELL

The University of Mary Washington men’s tennis team swept the competition in their doubleheader this weekend against Washington College and Wesley College. Both teams fell 9-0 against the 25th nationally ranked Eagles.

Head Coach Todd Helbling was pleased with the outcome of the matches.

“We knew we were better than these teams, but it takes some focus to get sharp,” Helbling said. “What our guys did, they did well.”

Sophomore Donato Rizzolo commented on his team’s doubles performance against Washington College.

“We would have liked to play better, but we did what we had to do and closed it out,” Rizzolo said.

Sophomore Ryan Byrd agreed with his teammate’s assessment of the match.

“We got a slow start, but we found our form like we usually do,” said Byrd.

This is a team that carries itself well, with a good attitude and the determination to always improve. Even with two flawless wins, they are forward thinking and self-critiquing. Coach Helbling summed it up, stating, “you always want to execute at your highest level.”

Sunday morning found the Eagles squaring off against Washington on their home courts. Rizzolo and sophomore Evan Charles lagged early in their doubles match but eventually re-focused and put it away, 8-5.

Sophomores Tyler Carey and Kaleb Nguyen were a little quicker to the finish, coming out 8-3. Junior Alex Blakhin and Freshman David Lunding-Johansson had a very convincing doubles match, crushing their opponents, 8-0.

As the morning turned to afternoon, the Eagles cruised into their singles matches with a solid lead. Carey was back-and-forth with his opponent in the first set, but he soon found his rhythm and a win at 6-3, 6-1. Senior Sam Wichlin had no trouble, winning 6-0, 6-0. Charles similarly dominated, 6-1, 6-1.

Lunding-Johansson easily won, at 6-0, in his first set, and a tiebreaker win at 7-5 closed out his second. Nguyen won handily at 6-1, 6-1. Senior Will Apperson went untouched at 6-0, 6-0.

Before the match ended, Helbling and some of the team were on the road to Delaware, where Wesley College waited, missing a few members of its squad. Forfeits in two singles matches and one double gave UMW an automatic lead, and the Eagles won all five matches that were played with ease.

Helbling has his thoughts on this upcoming weekend’s matches against John Hopkins and Swarthmore. Both matches are on the road and against squads ranked within the top 25 nationally.

“We’ve played nine top 25 nationally-ranked teams so far, and we’ve been very good in doubles all year,” Helbling said.

Provided they stay strong in doubles, and with a some solid performances in singles, the Eagles hope to sweep the competition again next weekend.