Underclassmen represent Tufts at ITA Regional Championships
Published: Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 03:10
A week after defeating rival Babson 8-1, the men’s tennis team competed at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Regional Championships at Middlebury College this weekend.
Held annually, the ITA Regional Championships pit the top Div. III players in New England against each other. Unlike regular season matches, in which players compete for a team victory, invitational tournaments are contested on a purely individual basis.
“Invitationals have a totally different feel from regular season matches,” sophomore Rob Jacobson said. “At the invites, you’re out there alone. While we obviously represent Tufts in every match we play, at invitationals it’s a little more about playing for yourself, trying to go deep in tournaments to get that match experience and walk away with the title.”
This year, Tufts sent four players to the tournament. Sophomores Nik Telkedzhiev, Jacobson and Jay Glickman competed alongside freshman Brad Wong. Jacobson and Wong teamed up in doubles, while Telkedzhiev and Glickman formed the other doubles pairing.
Telkedzhiev, the tournament’s 15th seed, won his first round match against Colby’s Carl Reid, a freshman, in straight sets, 6-1, 6-3. He capped off the first day of play with a second round victory against freshman Micheal Arguello from Brandeis, 6-2, 6-3.
In the third round on Saturday, Telkedzhiev faced stiff competition in the form of Trinity’s Dan Carpenter, a sophomore and the tournament’s ninth overall seed. After taking the first set, Telkedzhiev dropped the second but regrouped to win in three, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.
“I was able to control the rallies from the baseline with my aggressive style, and that really paid off,” Telkedzhiev said. “It always feels good when you win over such competitive players.”
In addition to his style of play, Telkedzhiev credits his teammates for pushing him in training sessions and motivating him during his grueling matches at the ITA Regional Championships.
“My tournament success is a reward for all the hard work the team has put into improving the Tufts program,” Telkedzhiev said. “During every single point of my matches, I felt I had the full support of every guy on the team and that really helped me overcome adversity during my matches.”
What made Telkedzhiev’s run more rewarding was that he sustained a lower back injury just last week. He was unable to play against Babson and was only partially recovered before he took the courts at Middlebury.
“I couldn’t play without my body hurting during the weekend,” he said. “However, that didn’t change my attitude toward the tournament. I knew that I would be competitive even with my back hurting.”
The other Jumbos faced tough singles opponents from the very beginning. Jacobson drew No. 16 seed Howard Weiss, a sophomore from No. 1 Williams, in the first round on Friday. The match was close, though, with Jacobson falling 6-4, 6-3.
“I played a tough match in the first round of the tournament against Weiss,” Jacobson said. “He is a great player, so I knew going into the match that I’d have to execute my game well in order to put myself in a spot to win.”
Glickman, the seventh seed, was upset in the first round by Williams freshman Conrad Harron, 6-3, 6-3, while Wong dropped a first set tiebreaker to Kevin Wang, a freshman from MIT, before losing the match in straight sets.
In the first round of doubles, Jacobson and Wong paired up to win 8-1 against Arguello and Brian Granoff of Brandeis. On Saturday, however, they fell to Amherst’s Ben Fife and Joey Fritz, 8-3.
“Brad and I have had a lot of fun playing doubles together,” Jacobson said. “So far, that has translated to some great results playing together. I’m constantly learning about him in every match we play, how he competes, handles pressure and how he plays when it really counts.”
Telkedzhiev and Glickman came close to taking out freshmen Wang and Eugene Oh of MIT, but they ultimately fell, 8-6. Telkedzhiev acknowledged that there is work to be done in doubles.
“There are some weaker parts of our game we have to work on,” he said. “I feel that Jay and I have similar understanding of the doubles strategies, and I believe we could be successful in the future.”
Next up for the Jumbos is another tournament, the Wallach Invitational at Bates, which begins Oct. 12. The Jumbos will look to build on their early season success in regular season matches and at the ITA Regional Championships.
“We are lucky enough to have momentum at the beginning of the season, and our team goals for the Bates tournament are the same as they are for any tournament we play,” Telkedzhiev said.