Men’s tennis: Stein captures 100th win as Bears defeat Graceland
In the midst of the No. 2 Washington University men’s tennis 7-2 victory over NAIA No. 9 Graceland University at home on Saturday, junior Isaac Stein hit a new milestone: his 100th and 101st victories.
“Getting the 100th win feels great, but honestly, after getting a taste of team success my freshman year [when the Bears won the NCAA Division III National Championship], personal accomplishments can’t even come close,” Stein said.
Stein’s landmark weekend featured an 8-3 doubles victory with partner Max Woods and a 6-3, 6-0 singles victory over the Yellowjackets’ Matthew Waite.
“I’m happy for Isaac. He has really improved his defense and net play,” head coach Roger Follmer said. “If he continues to put time and effort into his serve, I think he can compete with anybody in Division III this spring.”
Though Stein is riding a 4-1 singles and a 3-1 doubles streak, he reassured that his sights are set much higher for the team.
“I think the goal of everyone at the beginning of each season is to do whatever they can to make the team perform well, not what they can accomplish individually,” Stein said.
While freshmen Adam Putterman and Kareem Farah lost their doubles match to Graceland’s Yassir El-Ghazi and Jeremy Ackerer, Levy and sophomore Cameron Chiang won at third doubles 8-4 to give Wash. U. a 2-1 advantage over the Yellow Jackets heading into singles play.
In addition to a Stein singles win, the Red and Green also took four out of the other five singles matches with straight set victories by Woods, senior John Watts, freshman Adam Putterman and senior Danny Levy.
“We outfought them physically, hustling for more balls, and mentally, keeping our composure better than GU,” Follmer said. “Hopefully, the guys see the benefit of playing this way versus taking the easy way out, as GU did against us for whatever reason.”
The Bears maintained their No. 2 ranking with a 5-1 record in March. Their only loss came against the top-ranked Division II school, Armstrong Atlantic State University.
As he has preached all season long, Follmer credited the team’s success with its strong doubles play. Follmer cited the No. 10 ranked California Lutheran University sweeping the No. 1 ranked University of California-Santa Cruz this weekend en route to a huge upset as evidence for why doubles are so critical.
“As expected, when Cal. Lutheran [swept doubles], they knocked off a team they haven’t beaten in 10 years or more,” Follmer explained. “That is a team in UC-SC that won two of the last three NCAA team titles and won our ITA 2010 National Indoor Title.”
Overall, however, everyone agrees that the team will have to play its best tennis to avoid a fate similar to UC-SC. “I hope we have not hit our full potential and that we will continue to improve throughout the spring, culminating in UAA’s at the end of April and NCAA’s at the end of May,” Stein said.