Watts gets 200th win in team sweep
Senior John Watts captured his 200th career victory on Sunday, a feat that no other Washington University tennis player has ever achieved, as the Bears defeated Case Western Reserve University 8-1 on Saturday and No. 16 University of Chicago 5-4 on Sunday.
In Chicago, Watts won the milestone match with freshman Kareem Farah, in an 8-4 doubles victory over Will Zhang and Dillon Klincke.
“At the time, the thought really didn’t cross my mind at all that I had [won my 200th match],” Watts said. “But now that I look back at it and I think about it, it was really a great accomplishment for me. A little bit of it was luck because I’ve managed to stay healthy, and I always managed to find a spot in the lineup and find some good results.”
Watts’ success over the course of his career has won admiration from his teammates and earned the respect of his coach.
“John is absolutely incredible,” junior Isaac Stein said. “He always brings up his game when the time calls for it. He never folds under pressure. In fact, when the pressure is on, that’s when he’s on. Having a player like John is invaluable to us.”
Head coach Roger Follmer said: “He just takes care of business. He is always mentally prepared to play. It is rare that he’s overconfident, but he is never under-confident going into a match. The mental approach, he’s always been good at, from freshman onto senior year.”
Watts finished the weekend 4-0 overall, with two singles victories and two doubles victories with Farah against both Case Western Reserve and Chicago.
On Saturday in Indiana, the Bears bounced back after their opening day loss and dropped only one match as a team on the day. The sole loss was a 9-8 (7-3) defeat in the first doubles, featuring the Division III No. 3 team of Stein and junior Max Woods. At that point, the perennially successful duo was 0-2 to start off the season.
“We played kind of a sloppy match,” Stein said. “When we are playing our best doubles, we are making a lot of first serves and our first volleys are going through the court deep, which kind of sets us up for the rest of the point.”
The experienced team recovered the very next day in Chicago, with an 8-5 victory over Garret Brinker and Steve Salterelli, a team that had beaten Case Western Reserve’s first doubles team the previous night.
“That [victory], so to speak, nullified the loss to Case,” Follmer said. “Now I think those guys kind of realize, when they play number one doubles, whoever they play, whether they are ranked, like Chicago, or unranked, like Case Western, you play number one doubles, you’ve got to be mentally prepared to play.”
Looking ahead to the weekend at the National Indoor Championships in St. Peter, Minn., Follmer knows there are some decisions that have to be made for the squad to have depth and success in doubles.
“We’ve got to put the big boy pants on in number three doubles next week,” Follmer said. “We were timid [and] scared, and you don’t need to be.”