By STEPHEN CAMPBELL
Men’s tennis team improved to 5-3 this weekend after winning their matches against Salisbury University and Franklin & Marshall College (F&M) on Sunday, Feb. 24.
After shutting down Salisbury that morning, the University of Mary Washington squad came out strong to dominate two out of three doubles matches against F&M. Last weekend ,losses at doubles had proved ruinous against Case Western Reserve, but this time the Eagles were the ones putting the pressure on F&M.
Assistant coach Curry Martin was enthusiastic about the Eagles’ performance, calling the team “very focused.”
“You cannot give [the other team] any kind of confidence heading into singles,” Martin said.
Before taking on F&M, though, UMW had to get past Salisbury in the team’s morning match. The 21st ranked Eagles swept Salisbury at doubles by a wide margin, with wins at 8-1, 8-5 and 8-4. Salisbury proved tougher at singles, splitting those matches, 3-3, with the Eagles.
All together, UMW came out on top at 6-3, prepped and ready to take on F&M.
“This one right here is more important for us,” junior Alex Blakhin said, referring to the ongoing doubles matches against F&M. “The match of the day is this one right here.”
Head coach Todd Helbling agreed separately, saying that “Franklin & Marshall [is] pretty good; they might even be better than Vassar.”
The Eagles knew what they were up against, so they played tough and never gave their opponents a chance to gain momentum.
Sophomores Evan Charles and Donato Rizzolo dominated their doubles match at 8-1, both of them totally at ease. Sophomores Tyler Carey and Kaleb Nguyen also won, steamrolling to another 8-1 victory. Freshmen David Lunding-Johansson and Marcelle Rengifo played well, but couldn’t quite catch up after their opponents’ early lead, losing 5-8.
With a 2-1 lead after doubles, the Eagles beat down F&M to sweep their opponent at singles, going 8-1 overall.
Carey came back after losing, 3-6, in set one, winning, 7-6, in set two and clenching the super tiebreaker, 10-8. Charles won handily at 6-3 and 6-1. Senior Sam Wichlin lost, 4-6, in set one, but rallied to win set two, 6-3, and the super tiebreaker by a wide 10-5. Lunding-Johansson had no trouble, winning 6-1 and 6-0. Nguyen was the third Eagle to mount a comeback, losing set one, 3-6, winning set two, 6-1, and finishing the super tiebreaker at 14-12.
Helbling commented on the difference between this weekend’s matches and last weekend’s. “We have different stages of confidence,” Helbling said. “Playing with so many injuries last week brought us down, but I like where we are right now heading into Spring Break. If we keep that confidence going, that’ll be good for us.”
The Eagles will be in California over Spring Break, taking on Occidental College on March 3, California Lutheran University on March 4, Pomona-Pitzer College on March 7 and University of Redlands on March 9.