Women’s tennis sweeps DePauw for Stahlhuth’s 200th win, men open year 2-2

| Staff Reporter

Though stereotypically considered a warm weather, beach-and-country-club sort of sport, tennis is already back at Washington University. Escaping the blanket of ice that has enveloped St. Louis, this weekend the Bears opened their spring season indoors in Indiana. In the 200th victory for its head coach, Kelly Stahlhuth, the women’s tennis team won its only match, a Sunday showdown against DePauw University, 5-4. The men’s team also defeated DePauw on Sunday, sweeping them 9-0, but lost to Butler University and the University of Indianapolis the day before.

Stahlhuth, who has been coaching the Bears since 2005, has led the team to 12 NCAA playoff appearances, including four quarterfinals matches. Last season, Stahlhuth was recognized as the International Tennis Association’s Central Region Coach of the Year.

The teams’ performances against DePauw this weekend continue a long history of domination against the Tigers. With Sunday’s sweep, the men have won their last 11 matchups against DePauw, while the women have not lost to the Tigers since 2014. On the women’s side, junior Sanjna Tripathy and senior Lisa Chionis delivered a clutch doubles victory, defeating their DePauw opponents 8-7 (7-5) in a tight battle. As only one match went into a third set, the men made quick work of the Tigers before heading to Terra Haute, Indiana, where they also swept the Rose-Hulman Fightin’ Engineers, 9-0, to bring them to 2-2 on the season.

There were silver linings for the men even in their losses to Butler and Indianapolis. On Saturday, the Bears put together strong showings against each opponent, notable given that neither is a Division III team (Butler plays in Division I and Indianapolis in Division II).

“Obviously, you never want to start 0-2 if you can’t help it. But at the same time, I felt like they were good matches to get the guys ready for the Division III competition today,” head coach Roger Follmer said Sunday afternoon.

Against Butler, a Division I team more well-known for its basketball than its tennis, the Bears won two matches, including an inspiring comeback victory for sophomore Benjamin van der Sman. Van der Sman lost the first set 6-3, before bouncing back to defeat Butler’s Ryan Roegner in three sets, 6-3, 6-4. Senior Konrad Kozlowski also won his singles match, defeating Butler’s Ari Gerstein in straight sets, 6-3, 6-3. Kozlowksi and van der Sman also triumphed in the evening’s match against the University of Indianapolis, defeating Division II’s sixth-ranked doubles pair 6-3.

Junior Bernardo Neves also had a standout performance Sunday afternoon against Rose Hulman. He beat Rose Hulman sophomore Ian Landwehr, a transfer from the Division I Naval Academy team 6-4, 7-6 (7-5). “Bernardo won two very, very close sets, which I think was great for him after he got a little beat up yesterday against [Indianapolis],” Follmer said.

Against Butler and Indianapolis, the Bears had to adjust to “no-ad” scoring, the Division I and II system in which all deuce points are game points and where serves that hit the net are considered in play. Division III matches use traditional scoring; so, Saturday’s matches required specialized practice. The opponents also had the advantage of prior practice: Butler had played eight recent matches before facing off against the Bears while the meeting was the Bears’ first this season. “The other coach even said, ‘Hey, I’m glad we played you in your first match,’” Follmer recalled. “I think he was impressed the way we competed against them.”

As the season heats up, the men’s team will continue to focus on keeping doubles leads early on in matches, Follmer said. “In both matches today, I thought we played really good doubles, and I think that’s going to be really important for us going forward,” he said. The men are ranked ninth overall in Division III, while the women are ranked 13th. Next Saturday, continuing their early season indoor play, will take on local rival Maryville University, while the women will face off against Southwestern University in San Antonio February 22.

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