Men’s Tennis: Bears Snag Two victories to end regular season
Heading into the University Athletic Association (UAA) Championships this weekend, the No. 2 Washington University men’s tennis team showed a taste of what it’s capable of by capturing two 8-1 victories over NAIA No. 18 Lindenwood University on Monday and No. 19 McKendree University on Tuesday.
The Bears started both matches with doubles sweeps, which gave them a 3-0 advantage heading into singles play. Juniors Max Woods and Isaac Stein, who have not dropped a doubles match since March 9 against Division II Armstrong Atlantic State University, won 8-1 against Lindenwood and 8-2 against McKendree.
“We are getting out there making sure we get the job done,” Woods said. “When it comes time to play and focusing on the point at hand, we work hard and make sure we take care of business.”
On Tuesday against McKendree, Woods and Stein seemed light-hearted on the court, smiling and laughing as they won a commanding victory.
“I wish they would be more like that more often. It comes across as relaxed,” head coach Roger Follmer said. “They have been playing pretty sharp, especially since that Armstrong match. Since that day, they have rebounded in a good way.”
Senior John Watts also won both of his doubles matches, with an 8-3 win on Monday with freshman Adam Putterman and an 8-1 victory on Tuesday with his usual partner, freshman Kareem Farah.
The Red and Green also took five of six singles matches on both days. Watts, who is the No. 1 singles player in the country, led the way with two straight-set singles victories: 6-2, 7-5 on Monday over Ciao Claudino of Lindenwood, and 7-5, 6-0 over Evgeniy Nigmatyanou of McKendree.
“The one thing that has helped me a lot is that I have been a lot more aggressive lately with my singles play,” Watts said. “Usually in the past I have been a little patient with my game, but in the last few weeks, I have definitely tried to step up my aggressiveness during matches, going for my good shots when I can hit them.”
Stein, Putterman, Woods, senior Danny Levy and freshman Gary Parizher also chipped in with straight-set singles victories.
The next step for the Bears is the UAA Championship in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which kicks off today with the Bears taking on New York University. If they win, the Bears would play either No. 15 University of Chicago or Brandeis University on Saturday at 12:30 p.m., and the final round would take place on Sunday morning at 9 a.m.
The Bears (13-3), who finished the regular season ranked No. 2 in Division III and are the defending conference champions, earned the No. 1 seed for the UAA tournament. As Follmer has preached all season, he expects the team to come out firing in doubles this weekend. No. 3 Emory enters the weekend as the second seed.
“They have to know that there are three points out there in doubles, and if you can capitalize on those three points, like today and yesterday, it’s anybody’s game,” Follmer said. “We have the depth. It will be exciting. We’re looking forward to going to Pittsburgh.”