The men’s tennis team certainly proved the weekend of April 19 that it likes to make things exciting. Just a week after an inspired victory over Swarthmore College – a win that included a trio of three-set matches – the Yellowjackets once again found themselves fighting an uphill battle and, just as before, displayed the heart and mental strength to pull out the win. Still hyped following a decisive pair of wins the previous weekend that moved UR into striking distance of a Nationals bid, the Yellowjackets came back and faced off against two higher-ranked opponents, Wesleyan College and Amherst College. Once again, UR showed it has what it takes to make a run during Nationals.
The weekend started off roughly, when the team squared off against No. 7 Wesleyan and quickly found itself trailing 1-3, winning only the doubles point before dropping three singles matches.
“They always got the ball back, frustrating us ,” freshman Josh Bruce-Black said.
Head coach Chris O’Brien agreed. “Wesleyan was very, very consistent,” he said. “The term we’d use for them is ‘pushers.’ They didn’t miss many balls and just kept the ball going.”
In addition to Wesleyan’s challenging style of play, the Yellowjackets also had to deal with the knowledge that they were playing in two essential matches on the road.
“It’s always hard to play your best tennis on the road, in conditions that are different from the ones that we are used to,” sophomore Avinash Reddy said.
Despite the intimidating conditions that they faced, UR remained undeterred. Junior Dan Williford stepped up, yet again, in what may have been one of the most crucial matches for the team.
Knowing that UR was down 1-3 overall, and facing a deficit of 4-5 while already down a set himself, Williford managed to focus and climb out of the hole, eventually winning his match in three sets. Similarly, Reddy and sixth singles player Eric Prince all held on to win their matches in three sets, and the Yellowjackets found themselves victorious yet again, ultimately edging Wesleyan out 4-3.
The next day provided a far more relaxed match against Amherst, a team that was ranked higher than UR, yet fell victim to a resounding 6-1 beating by the Yellowjackets.
UR headed to the University Athletic Association Championships and finished third the next weekend.
UR was seeded number seven in the East, and lost to Williams College 1-5 in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
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