After playing against two top Northeast teams, the Yellowjackets flew to California for a four game road trip over spring break. Winning against only one team for the week dropped their ranking from seventh to 11th in the Northeast Regional rankings.
The team started their road trip against second-ranked Middlebury College.
Sophomore Eric Hansen started things off at the No. 1 seat, serving against Brian Waldron, who is ranked as the top singles player in the Northeast. After falling in the first set 1-6, Hansen captured a well-earned win in the second at 6-3. His volleys and strong return game helped him break two service games in the second set. Unfortunately, Waldron came roaring back with a 6-1 win in the final set.
Junior John Park also showed promise at No. 3 singles. The first set against Middlebury’s George Mayer was a brutal one. The set went to a tiebreaker, which Park won. Unfortunately, Park was unable to match his intensity in the next two sets, losing 7-6, 3-6, 2-6.
Hansen later teamed up with sophomore Thanos Kantarelis at No. 1 doubles. They played a close match, ending with a deciding final game. UR lost, 8-9. In the end, no one could garner a win against Middlebury.
Next, UR faced Bates College, ranked 19th nationally. A worthy adversary, Bates proved to be tougher than UR thought.
Sophomore Aaron Gettinger was the sole UR winner at the No. 5 spot. Using his powerful ground strokes, Gettinger defeated Michael Sherman in a close match, 7-5, 6-4.
Senior Josh Bruce-Black almost pulled off a second Yellowjacket win against Josh Feinberg. Falling in the first set, Bruce-Black was determined to play more aggressively in the second. It paid off, leading to a deadly third set. Bruce-Black used the momentum built from the second set, but his opponent picked up his game as well. Both players’ efforts led to a nail-biting tiebreaker. Feinberg came out on top, winning 6-3, 3-6, 7-6.
After losing to Bates 1-6, UR traveled to Pomona to play against New York University.
Senior Eric Prince served the ball at the No. 3 seat to Christopher Chang. The first set included a group of powerful exchanges, bringing it to a tiebreaker. Prince proved to be the better player for the day, eventually winning 7-6, 6-3.
Junior Michael Burger and freshman Jeff Titcombe played fabulously at No. 3 doubles, winning in a gruesome match with a final score of 9-8.
However, that fell just short for the Yellowjackets, losing 3-4.
“We ran up against a very determined opponent in NYU and we were a little bit off of our games,” Hansen said. “Thanos and I pulled through with a tough doubles win, but we both struggled to pull through in the third sets of our matches. Prince and Gettinger still played well, but we were unable to use those wins.”
UR then went on for an impressive win against 15th ranked California Lutheran University. The team played at their best, winning 5-2.
Hansen faced Karlo Arapovic and won the first set 6-1. Arapovic forced a second set tiebreaker, but failed to upend Hansen. The final score was 6-1, 7-6 (3).
Kantarelis got his first win of the break at the No. 2 seat. Breaking two service games in the first set, Kantarelis sealed his win with effective ground strokes with the final score 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.
The rest of the Yellowjackets followed suit, defeating their opponents in tight matches. Prince made a nice comeback, beating Remy Salvador 1-6, 6-4, 6-4. Bruce-Black swept his opponent, 7-5, 7-5. Junior Michael Burger also played a competitive match, overcoming Forrest Hunt 7-6, 6-3.
“We had a great match against Cal Lutheran,” Hansen said. “Thanos and I really hit our stride in doubles, as we were all over the net, they couldn’t get anything by us.”
Head coach Anna Khvalina agreed.
“We came away proving we can beat a top 15 caliber team on any given day having brought our best game, while at the same time none of the wins against nationally ranked or University Athletic Association teams will come easy,” Khvalina said.
The next day, UR failed to build momentum, losing to Chapman University, 2-5. Despite losing at key positions, UR still saw some great action, especially from the winners.
Gettinger continued his extraordinary play, beating his opponent 6-1, 6-1. Titcombe became the other UR winner with a final score of 6-1, 1-6 and 6-4.
Khvalina was glad to see Gettinger’s spring success.
“Aaron played very well in California, going 3-0 against his competition,” Khvalina said. “It would be a continual boost for us if Aaron is able to maintain high level of play and stay mentally tough.”
After finishing their spring break at Chapman, the Yellowjackets returned home to face Hobart College, beating them 6-1.
Bruce-Black played a tough opponent at the No.3 seat. After splitting the first two sets, he played his heart out in the third set, leading to a well-earned win, 10-7.
This win led to three additional wins against Nazareth College, the College of New Jersey and RIT with final scores of 7-0, 4-3 and 7-0 respectively.
Despite the losses over spring break, UR has had five wins in the last six as of Monday. They hope to come up big at Wesleyan University this Saturday before they end their regular season on April 15 against Hamilton College. As they head to the UAA Championships, they need a firm grasp on how they should approach their game when facing top opponents.
Lee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.