By JULIAN MENK
The University of Mary Washington tennis teams opened their spring season by flying out to California during spring break to compete against nationally ranked universities Pomona-Pitzer, Cal Lutheran, Chapman, Whittier and Redlands. Both the men and women won two team competitions in California.
On Sunday, March 1, the UMW men, ranked 15th in the nation before the competition, took to the court against a strong 11th ranked Pomona squad, falling 5-4 in a very close match.
The Eagle men scored one point in the doubles competition taking down the second-ranked Ponoma doubles duo in the nation, courtesy of seniors Tyler Carey and Evan Charles.
“We want to be up 2-1 after doubles,” said Charles. “Otherwise, it will be tough to win the team match.”
On Monday, March 2, UMW men returned to win over No. 20 Cal Lutheran 5-4, winning five of the six singles matches.
“We were down three points at the end of doubles competition,” said Charles. “But with the help of freshman Eric Hurwitz clenching his single in 6-2 in the final set, we survived.”
On Thursday, March 5, the Eagle men, now ranked 17th in the nation, soared above the unranked Whittier Poets with a blowout victory 9-0, winning every match. The Eagle doubles duo of Carey and Charles set the dominating tone with an 8-2 victory in the opening match.
“Our doubles performance was much better after the rough start to the week,” said Charles. “Whittier lost three of their starters from last year, so we took full advantage from the start.”
The No. 17 UMW men fell to the No. 19 University of Redlands 6-3 in the their final day of competition on Saturday, March 7.
“The team is looking good,” said Carey. “We have returned most of our starters from last year, giving us lots of experience and leadership.”
The No. 22 UMW women’s team took the court against No. 38 Whittier on Monday, March 2, with an impressive 7-2 victory.
In the doubles competition, the Lady Eagles saw a pair of doubles duos comprised of senior Alex Ritter and junior Mackenzie Smith along with junior Alina Suyama and freshman Kait Brogan claim doubles victories, putting the women up 2-1.
“I was really proud of the team against Whittier,” said Ritter. “It was our first outdoor match of the season with less than ideal conditions going into the match.”
To follow up on the early lead, the Lady Eagles won singles matches two through six to add on five more points. Ritter won at two, freshman Caroline Mosberg won at three, junior Christina Gaul won at four, Brogan won at five and Smith won at six.
Following their first victory, the UMW women’s tennis ranked at No. 23 and went on to win over No. 31 Chapman 6-3 on Wednesday, March 4.
The Lady Eagles went to work early as they claimed a 2-1 lead over Chapman heading into the singles competition thanks to the duos Suyama and Brogan, and junior Shelby Harris and Mosberg. The UMW women also had strong singles matches from Brogan, Smith, Ritter and Harris to clench the team victory.
The No. 23 Lady Eagles then fell to No. 22 University of Redlands 3-6 on Friday, March 6 to finish off the California trip.
“Losing to Redlands was a tough way to end the week,” said Ritter. “However, we are staying focused on the main goal to win the Capital Athletic Conference Championships and to get into the NCAA tournament.”
Both the UMW men and women will return to the home courts on Friday, March 20.