Men’s tennis starts spring with 9-0 win at Hamilton

Men’s tennis (3–0, 1–0 in the NESCAC) began its spring season by winning 9-0 at Hamilton on Saturday. This bout was the team’s only match before it embarks on a trip to California over spring break, where it will play seven times.

The Ephs are off to an undefeated start to their combined fall and spring seasons. The men defeated Vassar on Sept. 16 and Springfield on Sept. 21 in its only two matches of the fall.

In Clinton, N.Y., the Eph doubles teams were all challenged but overcame the Continentals in each match. Alex Taylor ’20 and Brian Grodecki ’18 opened the season with a 9-7 win at No. 1 doubles, regaining the momentum that helped them qualify for the championship match at the MIT Invitational Tournament on Oct. 16.

At No. 2 doubles, Jordan Sadowsky ’18 and Rohan Shastri ’17 secured an 8-6 victory over their opponents from Hamilton, while Benjamin Lebowitz ’20 and Sachin Raghavan ’18 completed the sweep by winning their match 8-5.

The men carried their strong momentum into the singles portion of the match. Shastri won 6-2, 6-1 at No. 1 singles. S. Raghavan triumphed at No. 2 singles with the same scoreline.

At No. 2 singles, Grodecki had the most competitive match; he defeated Hamilton’s Max McKee-Proctor 7-6 in the first set before finishing off the second set 6-1.

At No. 4 singles, Taylor, who made the quarterfinals of the MIT tournament last fall, won 6-3, 6-3 over his opponent. Sadowsky won 6-0, 6-2 at No. 5 singles.

At No. 6 singles, Ananth Raghavan ’20 dominated his match and earned a 6-0, 6-0 win to seal a 9-0 overall victory for the Ephs.

Head Coach Dan Greenberg ’08 commented on the impressive season opener.

“The guys have put a lot of work in this winter, and it showed on Saturday,” he said. “They’re fitter and more consistent, which has helped their confidence going into match play. As soon as they got through their first match rust, they played really solid tennis throughout the rest of the match.”

He praised the team’s effort in the offseason.

“I feel really good about the work the guys did in the offseason,” Greenberg said. “They built a strong base fundamentally, which has allowed them to work on some new things in the last few weeks, and everyone’s excited to translate it into matches starting Saturday. We have a tough schedule, but as long as we stay healthy, I think we can compete with anyone at any spot in the lineup.”

Greenberg discussed Shastri’s impressive performance. “Rohan looked great at the top spot,” he said. “He’s been injured for the past year and a half, so to finally see him healthy and playing again at such a high level is awesome.”

“Our main goal is to get better with every match,” Greenberg said. “Whether we win or lose on our spring trip, we should be able to figure out what each guy needs to sharpen or adjust going forward. If we can do that over the next six weeks, we’ll be right where we need to be for the postseason, where anything is possible.”

The men, who were ranked No. 2 nationally in the March 2 Intercollegiate Tennis Association poll, will travel to California to play seven matches over spring break. Its first match will be against Point Loma in San Diego, which will take place on Monday at 3 p.m. local time.  The men will also face Chapman, Pomona-Pitzer, Chicago, Redlands, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and DePauw. Chicago, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and Pomona-Pitzer are all ranked in the top 10.

Greenberg said he hopes the spring break matches will prepare the team for its remaining matches in the spring. After the trip to California, nearly all the team’s matches will be against NESCAC teams.

“Across the board, the NESCAC has gotten so deep,” he said. “In no sport can you expect an easy NESCAC matchup, and in tennis especially, every weekend will have back-to-back battles with the best teams in the conference and in the country.”

The men will resume conference play with an away match against No. 3 Middlebury, which will take place April 8 at 10 a.m.