The UR men’s tennis team is off to a spectacular start this semester.

The Yellowjackets successfully began their spring season last week by winning six of the seven matches they played during spring break.

The first five matches that UR played over spring break took place in Florida.

Last Sunday, the Yellowjackets defeated Fairfield University, 6-1. The following day, they defeated Coe College, 5-2.

On Tuesday, UR played twice and were victorious both times, defeating Wheaton College, 6-1, and Carnegie Mellon University, 4-3.

After a day off, UR then faced King College on Thursday in their final match in Florida. The Yellowjackets defeated King’s College, 6-1.

Head Coach Anna Khvalina said that freshman Eric Hansen, playing at the number one spot for UR, performed especially well in Florida.

He defeated four opponents from Fairfield, Coe, Wheaton and CMU before losing a tough match to his opponent from Kings, 7-5, 6-4.

Hansen also played first doubles with fellow freshman Thano Kantarelis.

Hansen and Kantarelis were undefeated at the top spot, beating teams from Fairfield, Coe, CMU and Kings.

The Yellowjackets boasted an 8-0 record for the year after their Florida trip.

The team then traveled to Middlebury, Vt., to play Middlebury College on Saturday.

Middlebury is the top-ranked team in the nation. Last year they earned their first National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III championship title.

The Yellowjackets played some close-fought matches, but ultimately fell 7-0 to Middlebury.

Despite being up a service break in the second set, Kantarelis lost 6-4, 6-4, to Salih Unsal at the number five singles position.

Playing for UR at the number two spot, Avinash Reddy was able to take his nationally-ranked opponent, Nathan Edmunds, to several breakpoints.

“Avinash and his leadership are critical to our team’s success,” said Khvalina. “In the end, Middlebury was too much for UR to handle on that day but a competitive match was played, and we hope to learn a lot from it.”

UR bounced back strong on Sunday morning, taking on Hamilton College and winning all their matches for a first 7-0 victory since the fall.

Kantarelis has high hopes for the rest of the season.

“I expect to make nationals for doubles and as a team,” said Kantarelis. “I did well over spring break, losing only at Middlebury, but I feel that the guy I played at Middlebury was definitely beatable. Hopefully, with more experience, I’ll be able to execute better under pressure, something I failed to do at Middlebury.”

Losing to Middlebury only seems to have spurred the Yellowjackets on to work even harder. They are currently 9-1.

“The guys are stepping it up this year, and we had a great start in the absence of Partha Bhattacharya [who played in the number one position last semester and is out due to injury] and are looking forward to a strong season,” said Khvalina.

UR will play a handful of matches at home this week. The Yellowjackets take on Nazareth College on March 17, Lemoyne College on March 19 and Niagara University on March 20.

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