BY JOEY MERKEL
An intense day of competition capitalized by a sweeping victory over Division III Averett University characterizes the season the University of Mary Washington’s men’s tennis is having thus far.
The men’s tennis team took on both Division I Liberty University and and Division III Averett University, at the award-winning Indoor Tennis Center here at Mary Washington on Sunday.
The matches were a precursor for the anticipated Intercollegiate Tennis Association Indoor Championship to be held at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn. tomorrow.
The match against Liberty University was a tough start to a long day for the men’s team. The expectations for the Liberty match were marked by cautious optimism as the Eagles knew Liberty would be a tough team.
“They are a strong from top to bottom,” senior Randy Loden said.
After several close sets in the beginning the Flames topped the Eagles with a 4-2 victory.
“I think we should’ve won, but we lost some close first sets, that pretty much determined the match,” freshman Andrew Frisk said.
Coming off the court after the loss to Liberty the Eagles were disappointed, but the emotion was temporary.
They quickly came back to fight the lesser-known Averett University Cougars and its unique team dynamic. The Eagles did not know what to anticipate, as they had never met on the court before.
In addition, the Cougars recently added two new Finish players to their already diverse roster. The Cougars have an overwhelmingly young team with players from Ecuador, Finland, and South Africa, which is very different from the teams the Eagles have played most recently.
The implications for this match were of great significance because the result would affect their Division III record, unlike the match against Liberty, which does not affect the Eagles’ divisional standings.
Emotions were high after the loss earlier in the day, but the Eagles quickly bounced back: first in doubles then in singles to sweep the Cougars with a 9-0 victory. The sweep left the Eagles with a risen sense of confidence and excitement about the upcoming Indoor Nationals.
“Because there are nine matches it is hard to win every one of them against a tough team,” senior John James said. “By doing that against Averett I have a lot of confidence in the ability of my teammates because everybody was able to win their match.”
Defeating the Cougars after several tough sets in the morning elevated the team’s spirit.
“It was nice to come out after our loss earlier in the day and get a win at every position leading into Indoor nationals,” Loden said.
Some players took this doubleheader scenario as a test for conditions in Minnesota when they will be expected to play two matches in a similar fashion.
“It was a good test for us, to come back after losing to Liberty and stay focused and awake for Averett,” Frisk said.
With a 3-1 record at this point in the season the Eagles have a great deal of growth and success to look forward to in coming weeks. Two young players, freshmen Frisk and Riley Baver are signs of a bright future for the team.
“Our two freshmen, Riley Baver and Andrew Frisk, have been impressive and are playing great,” Loden said. “Andrew won both of his matches and Riley won one and was leading in the other before his match was called.”
The team’s hopes for the remainder of the season include a spot in the NCAA final eight for Division III, but for now the Eagles are focusing their attention on upcoming matches in Minnesota.
“Obviously our team wants to get back to the NCAA Division III final eight and improve on our results from last year, but that is a long term goal right now we our focused on our upcoming matches in Minnesota where we will also have an opportunity to win a National Championship,” James said.