The University of Mary Washington men’s tennis team split matches on Saturday defeating Stevenson University 9-0 and losing to the University of Richmond 5-2.
Against Stevenson, the opponent only won five sets in the singles competition and four sets in doubles. The game was a mere warm up for the team they would be playing the afternoon, the University of Richmond Spiders. The division one powerhouse from the south came up to face the 22-ranked team in division III.
Richmond was “a winnable match,” according to sophomore Alex Blakhin. “The talent was the same; however, the team played better than us on that given day.”
Blakhin, playing as the no. 3 seed defeated his opponent, freshman Donato Rizzolo.
Blakhin also cited that a lack of experience contributed to the loss, “[Its] Early in the season, we have a lot of freshman this year, once they experience that it’s only going to make us stronger.”
The Eagles are now 3-4 on the season.
Saturday showed the tennis program’s strategy: playing a strong out of conference schedule to easily defeat conference opponents. Prior to Saturdays’ match, the team had already played Kalamazo College from Michigan, Rhodes College from Tennessee and Whitman College from Washington State.
The Eagles are good, yet their conference play on isn’t too strong. They have won the conference 17 times in the last 21 years.
Over spring break they will go to the West Coast to compete against a hodgepodge of tennis giants. They will compete against 8-ranked Pamona-Pitzer College among other teams. They also will face 19-ranked Case Western Reserve University in Lexington, Va.
The men’s tennis team plays a total of 18 out of conference matches compared to the average of 10 by all other spring sports. The team is also unique in that there are only four instate players on the roster. The rest of the team comes from Florida, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Maryland or, in Blakhin’s case, Moscow, Russia.
When the team comes back from their Spring Break trip they will face Frostburg State University and keep playing tough opponents until the NCAA tournament.