After returning from a disappointing trip to California three weeks ago, the men’s tennis team showed a relentless effort to improve their record by winning six straight matches.
Although UR won against Hobart College on March 21 with a dominating 6-1 victory, it was not an easy ride. At No. 3, senior Josh Bruce-Black struggled against Adam Raffa. Unable to take a couple of service games, Bruce-Black faltered and dropped the first set 2-6. However, he evened the score in the second set and eventually won in 17 games in the third set. The final score was 2-6, 6-1, 10-7.
Freshman Jeff Titcombe was also in a tenuous situation at No. 6 singles. As he fought his opponent, it seemed as though both players were at the same level. Fortunately, Titcombe was able to break a game in the first set and won the tiebreaker in the second.
The Yellowjackets traveled to Nazareth College two days later. Senior Eric Prince displayed a powerful match at No. 3 singles, defeating Greg Bohneberg 6-2, 6-3. Sophomore Aaron Gettinger continued his impressive performance as of late, sweeping his No. 5 singles opponent, 6-0, 6-0. Junior Michael Burger easily won at No. 6 singles with a final score of 6-0, 6-0.
On March 25, the ‘Jackets hosted The College of New Jersey – ranked No. 25 nationally – at the Goergen indoor tennis courts. The underdog and sophomore Eric Hansen shocked all when he defeated Ryan Carty, who is ranked No. 8 in the Northeast region for singles play. Hansen hardly broke a sweat, beating Carty in two sets, 6-1, 6-2.
Sophomore Thanos Kantarelis also surprised the audience with his win against Michael Klimchak, who is ranked No. 21. Kantarelis did not have such an easy time as Hansen did, but all he needed was a service break in each set. He won, 6-4, 6-4.
Bruce-Black and Prince won crucial matches that sealed the win for UR since TCNJ won two of the three doubles matches.
Prince was able to recover from a second set loss, overcoming his No. 3 singles opponent. Bruce-Black stormed back from a first set loss at No. 4 singles to beat Justin Cook, 4-6, 6-1, 6-3. UR won against TCNJ, 4-3.
After a two day rest, the team handily beat the Rochester Institute of Technology. No RIT player could garner more than three games in any match.
Bruce-Black missed this past weekend’s matches because of a foot injury.
“We did not have senior Josh Bruce-Black this past weekend, which hurt us in the 4-6 positions,” head coach Anna Khvalina said. “We’ll need him back and the other guys in that part of the lineup playing better for the University Athletic Association Championships.”
On April Fool’s Day, UR went against No. 15 ranked Wesleyan University.
At No. 1 singles, Hansen towered over Max Kates for a quick 6-0, 6-1 victory. At No. 2 singles, Kantarelis powered his way to defeat Tallon Todorovich 6-4, 6-3.
A crucial match was at the No. 2 doubles slot. Four-year veteran Prince and newcomer Titcombe teamed up to a close and exciting match. Their efforts eventually triumphed over their opponents, 9-8.
Next, the ‘Jackets battled Springfield College. For the first time in six games, Hansen struggled to battle in a tiebreaker. Despite a long first set, Hansen regained strength to defeat his opponent, 7-6, 6-2.
At No. 3 singles, Prince battled a gruesome second set. He stayed clutch, beating Ethan Clime 6-1, 7-6. Prince has been on a streak lately, especially stepping up in the absence of Bruce-Black.
“The Wesleyan squad was much deeper than we anticipated, and they gave us a battle,” Hansen said. “The match was tied and it came down to Eric Prince’s match. I was proud of the effort he gave.”
Bruce-Black complimented the team’s successful weekend.
“I was very happy with the team effort to step up and win these matches so that we still have a chance at making nationals,” Bruce-Black said. “I have been really impressed with [Prince, Kantarelis and Hansen. They] have really stepped up and won some important matches lately.”
Before UR heads to the UAAs on April 21, the Yellowjackets have to play one more game at the Peter Lyman Tennis Center against Hamilton. The ‘Jackets are now ranked 27th nationally and 11th in the Northeast.
Lee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.