Men's Tennis | Jumbos turn heads in third fall tournament
Seniors struggle, Blau and Tan perform well at Bates Invitational
Published: Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 01:10
Following two successful showings at the Middlebury Invitational and Williams’ ITA Tournament, coach Jaime Kenney and her squad were ready to get back onto the court for more Div. III. competition. This weekend, the men’s tennis team traveled to Lewiston, Maine to participate in Bates’ Wallach Invitational, hoping to build on their initial success and keep confidence high as the fall season continues.
“Coming into the weekend, I was very excited to head up to Bates,” Kenney said.
“The last two tournaments have been great confidence−builders and practices have been incredible.”
With so many players, the field was broken down into four singles flights and two doubles flights. Tufts’ players were awarded a number of high seeds, including two No. 1’s and two No. 2’s among the singles brackets.
The Jumbos got into a groove early, with the majority of singles players winning their first round match−ups Saturday.
In the Singles A flight, senior Ben Barad defeated his counterpart by a 2−6, 6−2, (10−3) margin. In the Singles D flight, senior tri−captain Mark Westerfield took care of his opponent 6−3, 7−6 (7−2) in the opening round.
Neither player won his second−round match−up, but Kenney was proud of her seniors nonetheless.
“[Westerfield] and [Barad] have been absolutely tremendous for us thus far,” Kenney said. “While they both faced tough competitors, [Westerfield] is still an incredible leader and I respect Ben for battling through a stomach virus this weekend. He’s a guy that will play ten out of ten matches for us no matter how he’s feeling.”
Kenney was also impressed by the play of freshman Nick Telkedzhiev. While he lost a match 3−6, 6−4, 7−10 to last season’s NESCAC Rookie of the Year, Bowdoin’s Kyle Wolstencroft, Kenney believes Telkedzhiev will become a star player in the near future.
Meanwhile, senior tri−captain Andrew Lutz and freshman standout Jay Glickman both entered as number−two seeds in their respective singles flights, but neither were able to make it past their first round opponents.
While disappointed in their results this weekend after putting up strong showings earlier in the year, both Lutz and Glickman could see the silver lining in their defeats.
“These tough matches just show how deep our competition really is in the NESCAC,” Lutz said. “They will certainly give us that extra motivation to work hard for the spring when we see these opponents again.”
For the Jumbos, the standouts of the weekend were sophomore Brian Tan and junior Austin Blau.
Tan, who played as the number−one seed in the Singles D flight, won his first two matches easily on Saturday at 6−3, 6−3 and 2−6, 6−3, (10−3).
Blau also rolled through his first two opponents as he won 6−4, 4−6, (10−3) in the first round and 6−3, 6−4 in the second. Following their standout performances on Saturday, both were enthusiastic for their semi−final matches the next day.
“I had some tough matches against very consistent players and had to just stay calm and remain in the moment,” Blau said on Saturday. “For my next match, I’ll definitely treat my opponent like any other player and enjoy it. I’ll need to make him come up with tough shots and not give up any free points.”
While both Jumbos played well in their semi−final matches, only Tan moved onto the final in his flight, with Blau losing two hard−fought sets, 4−6, 3−6. In the final, Tan attempted to stay with Amherst’s Michael Solimano, but the Lord Jeff pulled away to take the match and the flight title 4−6, 3−6.
“No matter the result, [Tan] serves as a perfect example of someone who learns something new every time he steps onto the court,” Kenney said. “His composure is textbook and I can’t respect him enough for it.”
In the doubles flights, while all of Tufts’ pairings showed promise early in their matches, none made it past the opening round. The duo of Glickman and Blau had the best shot of winning their first match−up, but were downed in a battle against a tough pair from Amherst, 9−8.
“I am extremely proud of all of the doubles teams,” Kenney said. “Every combo played very well in all aspects of the game and I know that with time they will only get better.”
Lutz believes this was definitely another strong showing for the Jumbos as they continue to prepare for the rapidly approaching dual matches.
“All in all, everyone competed well this weekend,” he said. “We learn more about ourselves and our competition with every match and we look forward to our continued improvement. We certainly plan on making a run at a championship once duals begin.”