Men’s, women’s tennis score dominant wins in final home matches of 2018
The sun finally came to St. Louis this week, and that meant that after three long months of indoor tennis, the Washington University tennis teams this weekend finally emerged to the courts at the Tao Tennis Center. Because of travel schedules and the extended winter weather, the two teams combined to play just two matches on their home courts heading into this weekend. For once, the sun held out this weekend and the Bears seemed to relish the opportunity to finally host some match play, as both teams cruised to lopsided victories against the University of Texas at Tyler and DePauw University.
The men’s tennis team had to wait just a little bit longer to get back to the courts on the Danforth Campus, as their Friday afternoon match against the University of Texas at Tyler was played at the Dwight Davis Tennis Center in Forest Park concurrently with the women’s match back on campus.
Despite being a brisk 25-minute walk from their regular home, the Bears seemed to be perfectly comfortable and took control of the match immediately with a doubles sweep. Junior Konrad Kozlowski and senior Jason Haugen—who reunited at No. 1 doubles at the start of April after playing apart for the start of the spring—made quick work of Tyler’s Arthur Fagundes and Pablo Gomez, 8-3.
Elsewhere in doubles, junior Radha Vishnubhotla and sophomore Bernardo Neves had a slightly tougher time of it at No. 2, but still pulled off an 8-6 win. Senior Johnny Wu and freshman Benjamin van der Sman rounded off the sweep with an 8-4 win at No. 3.
The headliner on the Tyler lineup is Fagundes, who is ranked 13th in Division III, and who presented a tricky hurdle for Wu at No. 1 singles. Wu started the fastest with a 6-3 win in the first set, though Fagundes came roaring back with a 6-4 victory in the second which sent the match into a third set tiebreak. Wu managed to hold off the higher-ranked player and took the match with a 10-6 victory in the tiebreak.
After entering the season unranked individually, Wu has slowly built up his resume through the spring. Impressive performances like wins against Fagundes and Gustavus Adolphus College’s Mohanad Alhouni (No. 1 in Division III) have him ranked second in the central region and well-positioned to make a return to the NCAA Individual Championships in May.
The rest of singles went much the same way, as Neves, van der Sman, Haugen, freshman Daniel Li and sophomore J.J. Kroot all won their matchups to round out a 9-0 win.
The next afternoon was senior day for the Bears, and all three of Wash. U.’s seniors made it a day to remember against DePauw. Haugen, Wu and Shaun Berman totaled five wins between them and the Bears won their second shutout of the weekend.
The next challenge for the Bears will be the UAA championships in Altamonte Springs, Fla., where they will have their last chance to square off against top-ranked teams before the NCAA tournament begins after the end of final exams in May.
The women’s tennis team took on the same pair of teams as the men, to similar results. Friday afternoon, the Bears took on Texas-Tyler, who are ranked 36th in Division III, and they quickly established a rhythm in doubles.
All three of the doubles teams—senior Grace Deering and freshman Ally Persky; sophomore Ashley Lessen and junior Lisa Chionis; and junior Brigitte Hodge and sophomore Sanjna Tripathy—broke their opponents’ serve early and often and each team pulled off comfortable wins.
That dominance continued into singles: All six Bears in the lineup cruised to straight set victories, completing a shut-out of the Swoops.
Wash. U. was back in business the following morning against DePauw, and the results were almost exactly the same. Once again, the Bears started off with a sweep in doubles and did not look back from there, and picked up another 9-0 shutout victory.
Aside from the team result, Saturday also provided a personal milestone for Deering: Her two wins on the day pushed her career total 133, giving her sole possession of sixth place on the program’s all-time wins list.
Persky has also been one of the keys so far this season. As a freshman playing at No. 3 singles, she has been the Bears’ most reliable performer and has won nine straight matches at that spot. Her and Deering have also been crucial for the Bears at the top of the doubles lineup and will more than likely get a chance to represent the school at individual nationals.
There is still a little bit of personal history on the line for the Bears as they travel to the UAA championships next weekend, as head coach Kelly Stahlhuth is now just two wins away from 200 for her Wash. U. career. To get to 200 during the conference tournament, however, Stahlhuth will need to get her team to the conference championship match and past tough programs like University of Chicago and Emory University.