Men’s and women’s tennis run into roadblock against Denison and UChicago

| Staff Writer

Senior Gaurav Singh won his singles match against Denison, but the Bears lost overall. (Bri Nitsberg | Student Life)

Entering the weekend of April 12, the Washington University men’s and women’s tennis teams had a lot on the line. 

The women’s team was on a seven-game win streak and had a 12-2 record, and had shot up to being ranked ninth in the country. The Bears’ hot stretch would be put to the test against two formidable and nationally ranked opponents — No. 24 Denison University and  No. 5 University of Chicago. The Bears split the pair of matches, beating Denison 7-2 before falling 6-3 to UChicago.

The men’s team entered the weekend in an opposite situation. After ending the indoor season ranked second in the country, they have struggled outdoors, and fell to eighth with a record of 10-7 after losing four of their last six matches entering weekend play. Unfortunately for the Bears, the skid continued in both home matches, as they fell 7-2 to No. 14 Denison University  and 6-3 to No. 2 University of Chicago.

Women’s Tennis

Women’s tennis won two out of three doubles matches against Denison. (Bri Nitsberg | Student Life)

Sophomore Eliana Hanna had said the women’s team was confident heading into the weekend.

“We have been practicing really hard all year, and we started off ranked lower than we currently are, and that is a credit to our work — so for us, it was all about seeing that work transfer to the court,” she said.

The work translated to the court for the Bears in their first match, as they defeated Denison 7-2 in dominant fashion. The Bears began their winning ways in their doubles matches as they went 2-1, winning both their number-one and number-three doubles. 

“Going 2-1 in the doubles matches instilled confidence in us to get as many single points as we could,” Hanna said afterwards. 

That confidence was evident as the Bears excelled during the singles matches, defeating Denison 5-1. Hanna was commanding in her singles match, winning 6-0, 6-0 in third singles, while first-years Eleanor Archer and Emily Chiasson also won key singles matches.

The next day was Senior Day for the Bears, but unfortunately for the seniors and the Bears, juggernaut UChicago came to play. The Maroons ended up defeating the Bears 6-3 to hand WashU their third loss of the season, and their first in over a month. 

The Bears started off the match strong, as Archer and her doubles partner senior Karen Gao won their second doubles match 8-2, but the Bears would lose their other two doubles matches. In singles, Gao won her fourth singles match 7-5, 6-2 and sophomore Amber Edmonds won her fifth singles match in two nail-biting sets that ended 6-4 and 6-4. But these would be the only wins for the Bears, as they lost their other four singles matches to cap off a rough day. 

The Bears’ next match will be on April 20 when they host No. 27 Grinnell College, before playing the University of Wisconsin Whitewater on April 21.

According to Hanna, the Bears will be “kicking it into rest mode. We just had two tough matches, and we just came back from Madison Invitational last weekend, and we do not want to risk injuries as the postseason arrives.”

The pair of matches will be the regular-season finale for the team, as they get ready for a competitive University Athletic Association (UAA) tournament the week after.

Sophomore Collin Scruggs hits the ball against Denison. (Bri Nitsberg | Student Life)

Men’s Tennis

Although the men’s team also faced stout opponents, sophomore Eric Kuo said the team was similarly optimistic entering the matches. 

“We entered the game focused solely on controlling what we could control and being confident and upbeat.”

First, the Bears lost 7-2 to Denison, who came out firing early on to win two out of three doubles matches. The Bears’ only doubles win came from the hands of the second doubles team, led by Kuo and junior Scott Yamamoto, who won their match 8-5. 

The Bears looked to mentally refocus and flip the script of the match during singles. However, only senior Gaurav Singh, competing at fourth singles, was able to win his match, and Denison dominated the remaining five singles matches. Although Denison was able to overpower the Bears, WashU still put up a fight as both Kuo, in the third singles spot, and sophomore Case Fagan, in sixth singles, pushed their matches to three sets each. 

Following the rough loss to Denison, the Bears had to refocus to play powerhouse UChicago the next day. Kuo was once again confident in the team’s mentality.

“I do not think it was a hard turnaround. Obviously, losing to Denison is pretty rough, but we had the right mindset going into playing Chicago, as we were hungry and ready to go.” 

Although the Bears came ready to play, Chicago jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the match after winning all three of the doubles matches dominantly. 

The Bears showed some life in their singles matches, as senior Jared Phillips won his first singles match 6-3, 6-7, and 12-10. Kuo continued the winning ways as he won his number-four singles in straight sets 6-3,  6-1, and graduate student Sergiu Celebidachi won his fifth singles match 6-4, 6-3. But UChicago took control, winning the other three singles matches to win the overall match 6-3. With this loss, the Bears drop to an overall record of 10-9. 

The Bears will look to get back to their winning ways on April 22 as they host McKendree University, who is ranked No. 15 in NCAA Division II, in their regular-season finale.

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