Section: Sports

Men’s tennis opens spring season, looks to California trip

Men’s tennis opens spring season, looks to California trip

Pocasangre Kreling | COURTESY OF ISOO O’BRIEN

After snow postponed the No. 23 Kenyon men’s tennis team’s first match of the year on Feb. 17, the Owls opened their spring season with games against No. 37 University of Mary Washington (Va.), Shenandoah University (Va.) and Stevens Institute of Technology (N.J.). 

At the Mary Washington Invitational, Kenyon started Saturday off against the hosts. The Eagles were ultimately too strong for the Owls to handle, as Kenyon started the day off with a 6-3 loss. Despite putting up a valiant fight, the Owls were swept in doubles play. In the No. 1 match, Eliezer Gonzalez ’26 and Paulo Pocasangre Kreling ’26 came the closest, falling 7-8 (7-9) in a tiebreaker. Down 3-0, Kenyon grabbed its first win of the day in singles thanks to Pocasangre Kreling, who won the No. 2 matchup 6-4, 6-1. Meanwhile, first-years Alejandro Gonzalez ’27 and Gianluca Bocanegra ’27 each won their matchups in the No. 3 and No. 4 games, respectively. Alejandro Gonzalez won in straight sets 6-3, 6-0, while Bocanegra ultimately won a grueling match 4-6, 6-1, 10-7. That was all for the Owls, as the doubles-play deficit proved too much to overcome and Mary Washington emerged victorious. 

Later in the day, the Owls took on the Shenandoah Hornets and won 7-2. Kenyon swept the doubles matches, as this time Pocasangre Kreling and Eliezer Gonzalez were on the winning end of a 8-7 victory in the No. 1 match. In the No. 2 matchup, Bocanegra and Christophe Leblanc ’25 won 8-3, while the pairing of Alejandro Gonzalez and Harshal Rukhaiyar ’24 swept their Hornet counterparts 8-0. In the singles matches, Pocasangre Kreling, Eliezer Gonzalez, Leblanc and Rukhaiyar all won their games in straight sets to secure a dominant 7-2 victory. 

Then on Sunday, Kenyon defeated Stevens by a score of 7-2, capping off an overall 2-1 tournament record. The Owls swept doubles play once again and jumped out to a 3-0 lead. In the No. 1 matchup, Pocasangre Kreling and Eliezer Gonzalez’s game once again went down to the wire, with the Owls duo ultimately securing an 8-7 (11-9) tiebreaker victory. The pairings of Eric Zhang ’25 and Alejandro Gonzalez as well as Leblanc and Bocanegra were both victorious in the other two doubles matches by scores of 8-3 and 8-4, respectively. In singles play, Pocasangre Kreling and Alejandro Gonzalez won the No. 1 and No. 2 matches in straight sets, staying undefeated on the day. For his 5-1 record over the weekend, Pocasangre was named the NCAC men’s tennis Athlete of the Week. In the No. 4 matchup, Eliezer Gonzalez defeated his opponent 3-6, 6-4, 10-6 in a comeback three-set victory. Zhang did the same in the No. 5 game, winning 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 to put the Owls out of reach of the Ducks. 

In an email to the Collegian, Eliezer Gonzalez reflected on the first few matchups of the spring season. “Despite not having competed since September, we felt energized and maintained a high level of play throughout our matches. We’ve dedicated a lot of effort to training during the off-season and at the start of this semester,” he said. “In our recent matches against Mary Washington, Shenandoah and Stevens, we initially struggled to find our rhythm and our rigorous game at singles, particularly in the opening game. However, we swiftly identified and corrected our mistakes in the subsequent matches.”

Over spring break, the 2-1 men’s tennis team will travel to California to take on a slew of highly ranked opponents. Eliezer Gonzalez is certainly relishing the opportunity. “I’m optimistic about our upcoming games in California, where we’ll be facing five ranked teams, and I hope we can deliver an outstanding performance,” he wrote. “[D]espite being a smaller team this year due to the departure of five seniors, we’ve learned the importance of sustaining high energy levels and maintaining consistent support throughout each match. These lessons will be crucial as we prepare for our upcoming trip.”

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