Kenyon tennis fans saw their first glimpses of the Lords and Ladies in the past two weeks, and the results bode well for competitive play in the upcoming spring season. The teams kicked off their fall preseason with two events, the annual Kenyon College Invitational and the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Regional Championships, and Kenyon tennis has come away with reasons to believe this spring will be a successful one.
The Lords (0-0; NCAC 0-0), who saw their first NCAA Division III National Championship in Kenyon history last year with the pairing of Tristan Kaye ’17 and Sam Geier ’16, are hoping to work their way to similar success this year.
“I see the fall as a way to get rid of the rust from the summer,” Kaye said.
The tennis teams hosted the Kenyon College Invitational on Sept. 17 and 18 and played against the men’s and women’s teams from Ohio Wesleyan University (men’s 0-0, women’s 3-0; NCAC 0-0, 0-0) and Otterbein University (men’s 0-1, women’s 1-1; Westerville, Ohio).
The Lords showed few signs of rust during the invitational. In the tournament, which was divided up into four singles brackets and two doubles brackets based on levels of play, Kenyon dominated every bracket, only losing the championship match of the “D”-level singles bracket to Ohio Wesleyan University. Kaye paired with Nicholas Paolucci ’19 in the “A” doubles bracket, losing in the finals to the Kenyon duo of Jake Zalenski ’20 and Peter Hazlett ’18.
On their side of the Kenyon College Invitational, the Ladies (0-0; NCAC 0-0) dominated the two doubles brackets, winning both. Diana Aboubakare ’18 and Jenna Murray ’17 paired up to top the “A” doubles bracket. “We played a bit last year, and we’re a pretty solid team,” Aboubakare said. “It was good that we were able to come back from a long summer and win that draw.” The Ladies earned wins in the “B,” “C” and “D” brackets of the singles matches as well.
Murray is excited about her team’s prospects this spring. “I think we’re stronger than we were last year,” she said. “Last year was our strongest year in like 10, 15 years, and we’re looking even better.”
At the ITA Regional Championships, the Lords were not able to find much success in the main tournament — the duo of Paolucci and Kaye advanced into the round of 16, the farthest any Kenyon players reached — but they did see a strong showing in the tournament’s backdraws. Zalenski advanced through the singles backdraws to its finals, which he won in a walkover. Ben Gelfand ’18 and Alex Rieger ’18 faced off against fellow Lords Austin Diehl ’20 and Mike Roberts ’17 in the doubles backdraw finals.
“The past weekend, we got some tough draws,” Kaye said of his team’s performance in the initial rounds. But he remains optimistic. “The results will come in the spring if we keep having high energy practices,” he said.
The Ladies have yet to play in their own ITA Regional Championships, which will provide some welcome outside competition. That tournament starts this upcoming weekend on Sept. 30 at Kalamazoo College (0-0; Kalamazoo, Mich.).