Men’s Tennis Splits Doubleheader
The men’s tennis team hosted a doubleheader last weekend, facing North Coast Athletic Conference rival the Denison University Big Red Saturday and a non-conference matchup against the New York University BobCats Sunday. The Yeomen fell 5–4 in the first match but rallied to take home a 5–4 victory on Sunday.
Saturday kicked off with doubles action as sophomore Michael Drougas and junior Ian Paik easily beat Denison’s sophomore Jamie McDonald and first-year Blake Burstein 8–3 to take the number two face-off.
The number one match saw Oberlin suffering the opposite fate, as junior Abraham Davis and senior Callan Louis fell 8–3 to Denison first-year Kevin Brown and senior Jackson O’Gorman-Bean. Junior Jeremy Lichtmacher and sophomore Robert Gittings came back from a deficit to tie the number three doubles match 6–6 but ultimately fell short, losing the close contest 9–7.
Drougas headed the number one singles match, facing off against Brown in a hard-fought three-set loss as Drougas fell 6–0, 7–6 and 6–3. Paik earned a two-set victory in his number two singles match 6–3 and 6–4, but Oberlin’s side of the court continued to struggle as Louis fell in the number three singles match 7–6 and 6–4.
With the score at 4–2 in Denison’s favor, the Big Red was one match away from clinching victory. But Davis managed to hold off the opposition with an exciting three-set victory 6–3, 7–6 and 6–4 against Denison sophomore Jack O’Koniewski.
Gittings and junior Billy Lennon remained. Gittings lost in two, 7–5 and 7–6, to seal the Yeomen’s fate, but Lennon took a narrow victory in three sets against first-year Colin Bahin in the number six singles match 6–4, 6–3, 6–0 for a final score of 5–4 in favor of the Big Red.
Davis said the team’s work was not done after the loss, and that the Yeomen were ready to redeem themselves against the BobCats.
“After Saturday, we felt like we played well but left a bit out there,” Davis said. “So on Sunday, we hoped to capitalize better on our chances against a similar quality of opponent.”
Drougas said that maintaining a positive mentality was important during downtime, and that it kept the Yeomen feeling motivated, not defeated, going into their next match.
“Taking away positives from a loss is important for moving forward constructively,” Drougas said. “Our coach really kept us motivated to keep working hard and try our best to win the next day, too.”
After Saturday’s loss, the Yeomen were ready to take down visiting NYU. The match day opened similarly to Saturday’s match and saw the Yeomen trailing 2–1 after doubles play.
In the number one match, Louis and Davis suffered a 9–8 loss to junior Sammy Aronson and first-year Benedict Teoh, while in the number two match, Paik and Drougas won a 9–7 victory over first-year Shrikar Kundur and senior Sidd Thangirala. The number three match saw Lichtmacher and Gittings lose 8–3.
Drougas fell to Thangirala 7–6, 6–3 and 6–2 in the number one bout. Paik took a two-set victory over Teoh 6–3 and 7–6 in the number two match to remain undefeated through the weekend. The number three match saw Louis take a three-set victory from junior Matt DeMichiel 6–2, 6–4 and 6–1. At number four, Davis outlasted sophomore Jiri Honajzer to take a three-set victory 7–5, 6–4 and 7–5.
With the Yeomen leading 4–3, the team only needed one more win to clinch the victory. After Lennon could not get the win in the number six match, the task again fell to Gittings. Refusing to be denied two days in a row, Gittings pulled through in a tough three-set match 4–6, 6–2 and 6–3, giving the Yeoman a 5–4 victory for the day.
Paik credited his teammates’ stellar singles play for the win.
“Sunday’s win was fantastic,” he said. “Abraham Davis won his third straight match being down at the match point. He was down 5–1 in the third with match points on the other guy’s racket but came back to demoralize NYU and swing the momentum of the match our way. The middle of our singles lineup did extremely well Sunday, [with] three third-set wins, and it was all capped off by a dominating performance in the last two sets at five by Robert Gittings.”
After the weekend, the Yeoman are now 11–6 overall, ranking 40th in the nation and 12th in the region.
Coach Eric Ishida said the Yeomen have to focus on smaller goals to make good on longer-term season prospects.
“If we put a complete match together with all nine of our points, we can definitely win and beat any of these teams,” Ishida said. “Our short-term goals are to take care of the matches ahead of us, and long-term would be to give ourselves a chance to win the NCAC championship.”
Oberlin’s next match sees them traveling to conference foe The College of Wooster on Saturday, with first serve set for 1 p.m.