Tennis: Every final had at least 1 male athlete from Wash. U.
After an unexpected semifinals exit in the 2009 Division III Men’s Tennis Tournament, Washington University’s squad was looking forward to returning to the courts in the Ninth Annual Wash. U. Fall Invitational.
“We were all obviously disappointed after the way [last] season ended…and we were just excited to get back out there. We have another chance this season,” senior co-captain Slavi Fildish said. “Getting back on the court is a big thing; just starting to win matches again.”
Unfortunately, the four-school tournament held Sept. 18-20 was canceled on the last day due to rain, with no winners decided.
NAIA Graceland University, NAIA McKendree University and Division I Western Illinois University were the other three schools in the invitational.
The Bears blazed through the tournament. At least one athlete from Wash. U. made it to the finals in each of the tournament draws. Wash. U. players often had to face off against each other.
“It’s a short, tough [fall] season, but we’re starting strong and we’re starting fast,” Fildish said.”All of us are on the same page, working hard and conditioning, and it showed right away. I don’t think any of the schools that came last weekend were on our level in terms of talent and depth, but we still needed to work hard to perform like we did.”
Senior co-captain John Watts, ranked No. 4 in the country as of June, eased his way through the Singles A draw. After defeating McKendree junior Daniel Gonzalez in straight sets (6-1, 6-0), he finished off Graceland’s Matt Waite in the exact same fashion. Watts was scheduled to face Graceland junior Remy Caffardo in the finals.
“I just tried to do what I always do: Just play calm, consistent tennis, very steady, just trying to be patient, and wait for my opponent to make mistakes,” Watts said.
Watts had similar success in the Doubles A draw with partner freshman Kareem Farah. The two took on Graceland freshman Jose Layrisse and Waite in the opening round and won 8-5. They then faced junior Jeff Cote and senior Jeff McGuire of Western Illinois and again won 8-5.
“[Watts] played a lot this summer. He’s one of these guys…that he just doesn’t take time off. He’s always working at his game in the offseason and it shows each fall,” head coach Roger Follmer said. “That’s why he’s always been kind of the top dog at regionals because there is no layoff.”
Many Bears were getting ready for finals matches when the rain hit on Sunday. Play was cancelled and the tournament dismissed. The results of the invitational will still count, however.
“The teams had to travel back on Sunday,” Follmer said. “It looked like [it would rain] all day, and I’d hate for a team to wait until the evening and then lose out on travel and studies heading into Monday.“
Fildish was to play Wash. U. freshman Bryan Haywood in the Singles C Draw.
“I personally wanted to play that last match…but in practice, we play against each other a lot, so it’s not like I’ve never played him before and will never play him again,” Fildish said. “I’m sure this [is] how the rest of the guys feel. We’re just happy that we were playing with each other, that we all made the finals.”
The next tournament Wash. U. competes in, the Wilson/ITA Central Regional, will take place from from Friday through Monday at home.
“Everyone got a little bit of confidence after this weekend,” Watts said.”It’s a sign of good things to come for the team this year.”