By Alex Pjinowski
The men’s and women’s tennis teams continue their strong seasons. The Lords currently own a nine-game winning streak. They shut out Kalamazoo College on Saturday, April 13; defeated Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), 6-3, on Sunday; blanked The College of Wooster and Oberlin College on Monday; and defeated Washington & Lee University, 8-1, on Tuesday. The Ladies also defeated Kalamazoo on Saturday to extend their own winning streak to four games, before that streak ended with a 2-7 loss to CMU. They were able to find their way back to a win by defeating the College of Wooster 9-0 on Wednesday. All matches were at home.
Both teams’ winning streaks were powered by a number of outstanding performances. Paul Burgin ’13 claimed Kenyon’s record for all-purpose wins (164), surpassing Jeremy Polster ’11 by winning his No. 1 singles match against CMU. Burgin already owns the record for singles victories, and was named North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) Player of the Week for his stellar play. “I’m honored to be able to hold those records,” Burgin said. “I’m really glad that I’ve been able to do my part for the team and put points on the board in team matches.”
Head Coach Scott Thielke said that Burgin’s intense competitive drive has helped him succeed, and classified him as “the best competitor we’ve had [in Kenyon men’s tennis].”
Michael Razumovsky ’15 has also turned out several phenomenal performances recently. He defeated Washington & Lee’s Hayden White, who has twice received All-American honors, at No. 1 singles (6-1, 6-2).
Thielke said that the Ladies’ loss against CMU was not, by any standard, a disappointment. CMU is a strong team, he said, so “[winning] any matches against them is a really good achievement.” One particularly close contest was the No. 1 doubles match played by Amy Schlessman ’13 and Taylor Diffley ’16, which they barely lost (8-6) and which Diffley called “the best doubles we’ve ever played together.” In two instances, Kenyon did even more than challenge CMU: Schlessman defeated Angela Pratt (6-0, 6-3) at No. 1 singles, and Diffley took down Elizabeth Martin (6-1, 6-3) at No. 2 singles. Schlessman said her loss at No. 1 singles to Kalamazoo the previous day, coupled with the doubles charge she and Diffley mounted against CMU, motivated her in her match against Pratt. In the Kalamazoo matchup, the Ladies fought back from an 0-3 start in doubles to win five of six singles matches and clinch the match. Diffley started the rally by decisively winning at No. 2 singles (6-0, 6-0), and Lauren Hoffman ’16 outlasted Olivia Bouchard in three sets at No. 5 singles (3-6, 6-4, 6-3) to clinch a Kenyon victory.
A lot of tennis remains to be played this week. The Ladies play Oberlin College at home on Thursday at 5:00 p.m. and follow up that match by facing Allegheny College on Sunday at home as well. Meanwhile, the Lords will play against Allegheny at home and at Ohio Wesleyan University on Sunday.
As they complete their respective competitions this week, the Lords and the Ladies will begin preparing for the NCAC tournament, which begins April 26. Burgin said “doubles is the key if we want to make a deep run in [the postseason],” so getting their doubles play in order will be the priority of the men’s team. Razumovsky agreed that doubles is the team’s “biggest issue at this point,” but because of the team’s recent prowess in singles play, he believes that “we can take at least four singles matches from almost any team in the country.” He is optimistic that the team will do well in the conference tournament and beyond.
Both teams are young, but this is especially true for the women’s team, which is comprised of eight first years, one sophomore, one junior and four seniors. Diffley said she is excited and nervous for her first postseason with the team, but is confident that the players will succeed if they “play [their] best and stay focused.” She also said that the CMU match prepared the players well for the caliber of teams they will face in the playoffs. Schlessman said, “Our doubles performance has been much improved from last year.”
As long as the Ladies can maintain their singles performance of this week with the doubles play they have shown throughout the season, she believes the team has success in store.
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