Section: Sports

Men’s, women’s tennis honor seniors in home court wins

The No. 24 Kenyon men’s and No. 24 women’s tennis teams finished out their regular seasons this past weekend in clinical fashion. The women’s team beat DePauw University and non-conference No. 9 Carnegie Mellon University (Pa.) in its ultimate match to cement a perfect 2024 conference record, while the men’s team defeated DePauw and Wabash College to clinch the No. 2 seed in the upcoming NCAC Tournament.

Women: In Kenyon’s Senior Day game, the Owls earned a perfect 9-0 win over DePauw. The No. 1 spot was defended by Shadia Amado Aguad ’26 and Eleni Dakos ’24, who defeated their opponents 8-2. On the No. 2 and 3 courts, Lalasa Nagireddy ’25 and Leni Lazaridou ’26 and first-year pair Ana Brand ’27 and Madeline Chappars ’27 both won 8-3. In singles play, every aforementioned Owl won in straight sets. Lazardiou won 6-1, 6-1, her sixth consecutive victory on the No. 1 court, while elsewhere Dakos and Brand both won 6-0, 6-0.

Before the matches, Kenyon celebrated Dakos, its lone senior, who reflected on the ceremony in an email to the Collegian. “I was surrounded by my family, friends, teammates and coaches whom I love so much,” she said. “It definitely made me feel so special and loved and I really appreciate everything everyone did for me on that day. It will most definitely be a day I remember forever!”

A day later, the Owls upset the Tartans 5-1. Allaire Berl ’26 retook the court with Lazaridou and emerged victorious in the No. 1 doubles match 8-5. In the final doubles game on court No. 3, Kenyon took a decisive lead thanks to Nagireddy and Brand, who won 8-5. In singles play, Kenyon ran away with the victory. Nagireddy, Brand and Dakos all won their matchups to mathematically clinch the win, leaving the final three matches unfinished.

Dakos emphasized that the victory over highly ranked Carnegie Mellon has helped the team prepare for the postseason. “Beating a tough team has definitely boosted everyone’s confidence. From our recent wins, we’ve learned the importance of discipline and determination during tough competition.”

The 12-6 (6-0 NCAC) Owls have some time to rest until the women’s tennis NCAC Championship begins on Wednesday, where they will enter as the No. 1 seed and look to defend their 2023 title. No matter the result, Dakos is enjoying every moment of the rest of the season. “As I go into my final postseason, I know that our team has the potential to go far in the NCAC tournament and in the NCAA tournament,” she said. “We have a very strong team and I know if we continue working hard on and off the court we’ll go far and have a great time while doing it.”

Men: The men’s team improved to 12-7 (6-1 NCAC) after wins against DePauw and Wabash over the weekend. Against DePauw, Kenyon ultimately came away with an 8-1 win. In doubles play, Paulo Pocasangre Kreling ’26 and Eliezer Gonzalez ’26 teamed up once again and gained a point on the No. 2 court, winning 8-7 (7-2). Alejandro Gonzalez ’27 and Christophe Leblanc ’25 had an easier time in the No. 3 match, winning 8-0. In singles play, Pocasangre Kreling, Rishil Kondapaneni ’25, Gianluca Bocanegra ’27 and Rakkan Audeh ’25 all won in straight sets. On the No. 3 court, Alejandro Gonzalez clinched a 7-6 (7-3), 6-1 victory, while in the longest match of the day, Eliezer Gonzalez stormed back to win 3-6, 6-4, 1-0 (10-3) on the No. 5 court. The win was Kenyon’s 14th in a row over DePauw, dating back to 2013.

Closing out their season a day later at home against Wabash, the Owls celebrated Senior Day in style, sweeping the Little Giants 9-0. Harshal Rukhaiyar ’24, the team’s lone senior, and Pocasangre Kreling won the No. 1 doubles matchup 8-4 in what was a sign of more good things to come. Entering singles play with a 3-0 lead, Kenyon swept every match in straight sets. Rukhaiyar closed out his final regular season match with a 6-3, 6-1 victory on the No. 6 court. 

In an email to the Collegian, Rukhaiyar expressed what Senior Day meant to him. “Tennis has been a part of my life since I was nine,” he said. “This team has been my family for my college life at Kenyon, so playing at home for the last time was filled with mixed emotions. I told everyone I had not processed that I would graduate in a few weeks as the four years passed by quickly.”

Rukhaiyar also reflected on his undefeated weekend after winning on the No. 1 and 6 courts. “It felt fantastic [to go undefeated]!” he said. “It was a great day for the team and me and a solid end before the NCAC tournament.”

With their lone conference loss coming against No. 14 Denison earlier in the season, the Owls will begin the NCAC Championship on Friday as the No. 2 seed. Rukhaiyar is hoping that the team can clinch the trophy in his final season. “We have had tough losses the past three years against Denison, but everyone on the team has the potential to defeat them in the tournament if we trust ourselves, as we all have the talent to beat them,” he said. “I will work personally and as a team player, both on-court and off-court, by cheering and motivating everyone to give their last push to bring the trophy back home.”

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