Well, you can now mark the end of one streak. It’s been six years since the last time the men’s tennis team beat Swarthmore College, a team that, according to team co-captain senior Dan Schoenherr, would “require a lot of fight” to overcome. Fortunately, as they displayed last Sunday while winning three of their four three-set matches, fight was in no short supply against Swarthmore, as the two teams faced off in a high stakes battle that saw UR squeak out the victory.
Just a day before the intense Swarthmore match, the team had met a notably weaker Salisbury University team and walked away with a commanding 6-1 victory. “Salisbury was just a warm-up match,” remarked junior Dan Williford, the team’s third singles and first doubles player, about the match on Saturday. “Swarthmore was the real match, and I think we handled it very well.”
UR came out on top of Swarthmore by a score of 4-3. The Yellowjackets had a dissappointing start, when they let the crucial doubles point slip away, giving Swarthmore a 1-0 advantage. The Yellowjackets, however, responded in singles play, winning at the one, two, three and six positions to clinch the match.
Williford walked away with a successful weekend, winning not only in doubles against Swarthmore but also both of his singles matches on the weekend – a performance that head coach Chris O’Brien deemed “phenomenal.” Also contributing to the close victory were sophomore Avinash Reddy, junior Colin Ryan and freshman Eric Prince at one, two and six singles respectively. All three of these players won crucial hard-fought matches in the third set.
“[Those three] really stepped up for us,” commented Schoenherr of the three-set winners. O’Brien agreed, adding that it was, “overall a decent team performance against a team [Swarthmore] that will probably be in the top 20.”
In this match the one point margin of victory really illustrates the competitiveness of the match. With the score tied at 3-3, only Ryan remained on the court, representing the match’s decisive point. Ryan pulled out the match 6-3, 5-7, 7-6, taking the third set tiebreaker 7-1.
Considering everything that went into the win over Swarthmore, the momentum should certainly be on the side of the Yellowjackets as they head into a weekend that Williford referred to as, “the biggest of the year,” when the team faces off against Wesleyan College and Amherst College with a bid to Nationals lying on the line.
As to whether or not the squad is prepared for the critical upcoming matches, O’Brien remarked that the tight matches against Swarthmore would certainly help ready the team for the competition they’ll face next weekend and in Nationals. “I expect the matches to be close,” he continued, referring to Wesleyan and Amherst. The team will head into the matches on a high with a well-earned feeling of confidence. “Next weekend we all just have to do what we are capable of doing and we will win – no doubt,” Schoenherr said.
The team will travel to Wesleyan on Saturday and Amherst on Sunday. Should UR win both matches Nationals is almost a given, so look for the intensity against Swarthmore to carry over into this weekend.
Janowitz can be reached at email@example.com.