Men's tennis loses 8-1 to MIT
The men’s tennis team traveled to Cambridge, Mass. this past weekend to compete against the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which is currently ranked 25th in the nation. The Mules came in to the competition having gone undefeated in their previous four matches last fall. According to Robert Yee ’12, “we were hyped going into the match and the consensus was that we were going to make it a close match, if not pull out the win.”
However, MIT showed why it is ranked in the top 25 by sweeping the doubles matches. Matt Carroll ’14 and Jack Bryant ’14 lost their match to Edwin Zhang and Matthew Skalak by a score of 8-1. Jason Ottomano ’14 and Luke Martin ’14 lost 8-3 to Curtis Wu and Eugene Oh, and Yee and Sam Bachelder ’14 lost by the same margin to Larry Pang and Elia Hamatz.
Next up were the singles matches. At first singles, Tom Kimball ’12 lost to Zhang in straight sets, 6-2, 6-2. The score belies the closeness of the match; Kimball was able to stay with a player who won a round at the Kalamazoo national tournament as a high-schooler.
Ottomano lost at second singles in two sets to Eugene Oh, 6-4, 6-1. Ottomano kept it close in the first and at one point managed to break serve, but he was immediately broken back.
Carroll, down 5-2 in the first set, came storming back to make the first set close, but MIT’s Larry Pang was able to hold at 5-4 to take the 6-4 set. Pang prevailed 6-4, 6-2 at third singles.
The next two matches were significantly closer, though both Mules surrendered comfortable leads. At fourth singles, Bryant lost in three sets against Wu, 3-6, 7-5, 6-4. Bryant held the lead for most of the second set, but Wu shifted strategies and fought back.
Bachelder, at fourth, was defeated by Skalak 7-5, 6-4. Skalak, a tall-serving lefty was initially flummoxed by Bachelder’s sharp angles. Down 2-5 in the first set, Skalak adjusted, hitting bigger balls and serves on his way to five straight games.
However, Matthew Mantikas ’13 was able to get a positive result for the Mules, defeating Andrew Cooper in three sets. He lost the first set 3-6, but battled back to win the next two sets, 7-5 and 10-5 in the third-set super-tiebreaker.
This result was the silver lining on an otherwise disappointing day. However, this was the first match of the season against one of the best teams in the area. As Yee explained, “Overall, this was not the result we were hoping for, obviously. But it was our first match of the year, and we put on a strong effort against a top-25 team.” With the loss to MIT, the Mules took their first loss of the season, moving to a solid record of 4-1.
The Mules will have plenty of chances to improve on this result next week, as they travel to Orlando, Fla. for their Spring Break trip. On the trip, they will play six matches against Elmhurst College, Florida Institute of Technology, North Central College, Birmingham-Southern College, Oglethorpe University and Pacific University. This will give them some valuable experience before they return to take on Trinity College in their first New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) match of the year.