By Alex Pjinowski
In the first week back after spring break, Kenyon men’s tennis wasted no time regaining their championship form. Playing on Sunday in Pittsburgh, Penn., the team defeated the University of Mary Washington Eagles by a score of 8-1.
Kenyon’s only loss occurred in the No. 1 doubles match where Michael Razumovsky ’15 and Sam Geier ’16 lost to their UMW opponent. Paul Burgin ’13 explained that the team likes to try as many combinations as possible with its doubles teams at this point in the season, in order “to find those combinations that are going to bring us the most success.”
Razumovsky stressed that, in matches where Kenyon is able to build up a substantial lead before the conclusion of the competition, the team members can still learn something from the match. In an email, he said that it is important to “make sure everyone has the same level of focus and is intent on taking care of business,” even when the score is no longer close. Wade Heerboth ’15 said he is thankful that the team does not compete for another two weeks so that “everyone can work hard in practice” and perfect their game.
Last year, in the second round of the end-of-the-season NCAA tournament, Kenyon drew and defeated Mary Washington, 5-0. Speaking about the possibility of seeing the Eagles in the postseason once again this year, Burgin said that the eventuality is “very possible.”
In the next two weeks, the men’s team will have some tough matches to prepare for. Kenyon will play next against Case Western Reserve University, which Razumovsky predicted will be the Lords’ “toughest test before [the NCAA tournament],” which begins on April 26. The Case Western Spartans are currently ranked 12th in the country; the Lords will face them in Gambier on April 6. Shortly thereafter, they will face No. 18-ranked Carnegie Mellon University, a team which Burgin said has “top-10 talent.” Burgin said that “those two matches, along with a couple others, will help [the team] get ready for the NCAC tournament and then the NCAA tournament.”
The Lords are ranked first in the country and, although they are expected to fall to second next week, Burgin said that this year’s team has far surpassed the achievements of teams in recent years. Their current ranking is higher at this point in the season than during any other year in his career. Nevertheless, he does not want the team to rest on its laurels.
“Early-season success is great,” Burgin said, “but if you can’t put it together in May, like I’ve been stressing, then that’s all irrelevant. It’s been a great start to the season, but that’s what it is ﾗ it’s just a start, and there’s a lot of tennis left to be played, and we still have a lot to prove.”
The Kenyon Ladies tennis team returned to competition this past weekend with two matches. On Friday, playing in Gambier against the Yellow Jackets of Baldwin Wallace University, the Ladies secured a 9-0 shutout. On Sunday, playing in Pittsburgh, Penn. against the Eagles of the University of Mary Washington, they were defeated 1-8 in a hard-fought match against a nationally-ranked team.
Playing against 26th-ranked Mary Washington, Kenyon was only able to secure a single victory, from Madison Hoffman ’16 and Amanda Polster ’13. Even so, there were many admirable efforts on the part of Kenyon. In a No. 3 match which she lost to Cassie Bowman (7-6, 5-7, 4-6), Polster kept the match close and was well within reach for all three sets. Taylor Diffley ’16, playing at the No. 2 singles slot, also proved a legitimate challenge for MW’s Shelby Harris, ultimately losing in the third set (6-4, 1-6, 3-6).
Amy Schlessman ’13 pointed out that the team was “right there with [Mary Washington] in all six singles matches. Had it been a different day, maybe the score would have been at least closer.”
Schlessman expects that the team will rebound fully from the disappointing showing on Sunday. “Our coaches are really perceptive,” she said. “They’re on the court with us as we play, so they see the things that we did well or didn’t do well, and the biggest thing for our team right now is playing more matches.” She expects that they will “practice certain aspects of doubles or singles that we could have done better.”
In the coming weeks, the Ladies will face Denison University and Oberlin College, two conference rivals. These are important matches, and they will influence Kenyon’s seeding going into the NCAC tournament, which begins April 26. She said, however, that the team tries not to “concentrate too much on the end goal, but just to take each match, each game, each point, one at a time, and just concentrate on doing our best in that moment, and then we’ll see where that takes us.”
[starbox id=”Alex Pijanowski”]