By OLIVIA BRIDGES
Saturday, Feb. 26, the University of Mary Washington men’s tennis team faced off with the Stevens Institute of Technology Ducks. At 9 a.m., the match between the two teams began, starting with doubles.
On Court 1 one: sophomore Ryland Byrd and freshman Michael Fleming played against Kyle Henry and Kyle Cenderelli of Stevens, with the duo from UMW winning 8-4.
A notable rally on Court 1 was the point that won Byrd and Fleming their second game. Byrd and Fleming only needed one more point to win, their opponents Henry and Cenderelli both came to the net to volley. There are both advantages and disadvantages to coming to the net. Luckily for UMW, Henry and Cenderelli felt the disadvantages of volleying when they hit the ball into the net, losing the point.
The players of Court 2 were UMW senior and newly crowned CAC Player of the Week Brandon Griffin and sophomore Matt Miles playing Danny Polk and Michael Feldman of Steven, with an identical result as their teammates Byrd and Fleming. Lastly, on Court 3 were sophomores Derek Hagino and Patrick Hughes facing Ducks William Persson and Divin Sarthak in a match that needed a tiebreaker to decide.
“It was a lot of pressure,” said Hughes, who has played tennis since he was nine-years-old. “The other team played really well, it came really close, but we got it down in tiebreaker.”
Hughes and Hagino won tiebreaker eight to two and the final result was nine UMW and eight Ducks.
“It was definitely tight going in there, they had to implement tiebreak, but it felt good to get an early start in it,” said Hagino, who has been playing since the age of five.
With the three doubles wins, UMW’s singles matches began with a good start. The UMW tennis team only needed two more wins to guarantee their victory over SIT.
In singles, there are six different games, where with the doubles matches there were only three games going on. Like in doubles, single players play an eight-game set; however instead of only playing one set, they play first to two.
Matt Miles on Court 3 quickly defeated his opponent 6-3, set one and six to one, set two. Miles won the second set on a forehand cross-court shot to his opponent’s backhand who couldn’t get to the ball on time.
With four wins against Stevens Institute of Technology Ducks, UMW only needed one more. UMW was looking to lock up a victory to snap a two-game losing streak to Longwood and George Mason.
“We’ve played two pretty solid Division I teams and had our chances, but came up a little short and this is our first weekend against some nationally ranked Division III opponents, so we will find out a little more about where we are,” said head coach and director of tennis, Todd Helbling.
“It’s a good start in this one, we look good, we’re at four zero and then these other two teams are going to be strong,” Helbling said during the match. “So, these are going to be good test, but we’re excited, we’re a very good young team, a lot of talent.”
UMW men’s tennis team certainly has a lot of talent as Helbling said. They won against Stevens Institute of Technology Ducks 9-0. Later that day, UMW played against Sewanee University and also won, by a much closer score of 5-4. Sunday, Feb. 26th they played against N.C. Wesleyan and St. Mary’s, both games UMW won 8-1.
Six games into the tennis season and UMW men’s team is off to a solid start with four wins out of six games.