Men's Tennis | Deep men’s tennis squad opens strong
Standout performances showcase team’s potential at Middlebury Invitational
Published: Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 07:09
Clutch points and match-to-match inconsistency defined the up and down season for last spring’s men’s tennis team. The Jumbos slumped, reeled off important wins and performed everywhere in between, eventually falling short of their postseason goals because of their inconsistencies.
Going into that campaign, the Jumbos were a team in flux, with new starters quickly promoted and trying to gain traction in the lineup in place of others who had left the team.
That description, however, stands in total contrast to the squad coach Jaime Kenney is bringing in for this fall, a roster filled with now-reliable returning players and already in-form freshmen that is ready to show the NESCAC what it’s made of this fall season.
The Jumbos’ first test of their new competitive mettle came this weekend at the Middlebury Invitational, an individual tournament that Tufts used not only as a chance for some top shelf competition, but as a team-fortifying event.
“In the intangibles I thought we did great,” senior tri-captain Andrew Lutz said. “We were definitely the most supportive of any of the teams there and we made a really good atmosphere for each other.”
There was reason for such a good atmosphere on the weekend: Matches were broken up into four separate singles and two separate doubles flights. In every flight a Jumbo made it past the first round of the competition, speaking to the depth down the line that the team brings into the young season.
“It was definitely a good opening weekend for us,” senior tri-captain Mark Westerfield said. “We did a good job competing.”
In the B flight of the doubles tournament, Tufts had two sides make it into the semifinals, and in the singles B flight, Lutz made his way to the semis as well.
But the player who had the best weekend was Jay Glickman, a freshman who managed to make it to the semifinals of the A flight while playing in his first collegiate tournament.
Glickman is just one member of a large and extremely talented freshman class coming in for the team, a class that will have players “starting regularly,” according to Westerfield. Thrown into the fire of competitive NESCAC tennis this week, they all stood tall in their first tests with strong and gutsy performances across the board.
“It was their first real match experience and I was impressed with all of them,” Lutz said. “Everyone fought very hard, whether they were getting crushed or having a bad match.”
With that kind of fight, the Jumbos will look to curb their inconsistencies from last season and use this fall as a foundation toward a far more successful spring season.
In this quest they will be led by Lutz, Westerfield and fellow tri-captain Andrew McHugh, all three seasoned veterans in the toughest tennis conference in the country, and all three ready to fill the leadership hole left by graduated captains Morrie Bossen (LA '12) and Sam Laber (LA '12).
Along with the captains, the team will depend on senior Ben Barad in singles to continue his always improving play in the first singles position, and sophomore Brian Tan, who will look to move up from his fifth singles spot last spring.
“We’re trying to get a lot of matches under our belt and a lot of match practice,” Westerfield said, explaining the team’s plan for the fall. “Really competing against the other teams is what’s going to make us a better team and a tougher team to beat in the spring. We’re looking to get down a lot of the basics and set ourselves up for a good spring season.”
Now having passed their first test, the Jumbos look forward to a schedule this fall that will put them up against some of the best competition the conference has to offer. Next weekend the Jumbos will travel to the ITA Regional Championships at Williams in a showdown with a number of other highly ranked teams.
It was against these top teams where the Jumbos struggled last spring, but the goal for now is to gain confidence against some more traditionally talented teams on their way up the rungs of the NESCAC.
“We just want to go out there and do our best and not half-ass anything,” Lutz said.