This past Sunday, Feb. 13, the University of Mary Washington men’s tennis team defeated George Mason University in their first dual match of the season. The final team score was 7-2, highlighted with strong singles performances for UMW. The Eagles men took singles matches two through six as well as doubles wins one and three.
The day started off with doubles matches and George Mason showing resistance from the beginning, but the Eagles men were still successful in pulling through with two of the three doubles matches. Both of UMW’s doubles wins were convincing, as the No. 1 Eagles pair of senior Kaz Murata and junior Riley Baver defeated Mason’s duo of Jorge Osuna and Taylor Sargent 8-3. Freshmen Alex Blakhin and Mark Hyland represented UMW as the No. 3 doubles pair and also defeated their Mason counterparts, Michael Phaup and Steven Hyre, by a 9-7 final.
For the singles competition, the Eagles showed their superiority and displayed their great dominance on the court. After junior Andrew Frisk and freshman Eric Coltabiano suffered a doubles loss earlier in the day, both Mary Washington players came back to pick up their own singles victories. Frisk defeated the Patriots’ Christopher Borden 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 and Caltabiano won 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 over Mason’s Patrick Mulquin.
Although the visiting Patriots showed strong opposition, the Eagles were able to overcome George Mason in all but one singles match. In addition to Frisk’s and Caltabiano’s wins, UMW’s No. 2 Blakhin defeated George Mason’s Jordan Borsanyi 4-6, 6-4, 6-0, Eagles’ No. 3 Baver defeated Sargent 6-4, 7-5, and No. 6 Hyland defeated GMU’s Sam Coster 7-5, 6-4.
Overall, Eagles’ head coach Todd Helbling believed that Sunday’s competition was “a perfect first match” for his team as it offered healthy pressure in early season play. Coach Helbling not only noticed how his men came back in many of their wins, but was also impressed with their perseverance through slow sets and pressure, seeing it as a good sign of their determination and mentality.
“We are striving to play at a much higher level than we did on Sunday,” Helbling said. “Improvements need to be made in every area…better technically, more consistent while being more offensive, smarter, and more determined.“ Helbling said he looks daily to develop his men’s strengths and improve on their weaknesses.
This Friday, Mary Washington will be hosting the Intercollegiate Tennis Association national championships where they will be up against some of the best teams in the country.
“We will host the powerhouse Emory University on Friday afternoon,” Murata said. “They are one of the favorites to win the tournament, so we have to go in there, play our game and see how we do.”