Tennis Teams Look to NCAC Tourney After Close Losses

Alen Cisija

The end of the regular season is fast approaching for both of Oberlin’s varsity tennis teams, as the Yeomen and Yeowomen are jockeying for position in the upcoming North Coast Athletic Conference Tournament next weekend. The men dropped two hard-fought matches this week against nationally ranked opponents, while the women’s side fell to sixth-ranked Denison.

First up for the Yeomen was a tough test against the No. 27 Denison University Big Red (9¬–7, 2–0 NCAC). Oberlin (6–14, 1–1 NCAC) fought admirably but were eventually edged 1¬–8. The junior duo of Sam Towne and Joe Leffler scored the lone win for the Yeomen, knocking off the Big Red duo of Cam Williams and Andrew Marczak, 8–4, in third doubles.

Oberlin couldn’t carry that success over into singles play, however, dropping all six matches. First-year ace Logan Chun was game at first singles, but fell 6–3, 6–3 in a hotly contested match against Matt McEarlean, the 19th-ranked singles player in the country. Junior Eliot Heaton showed heart in the fifth singles slot, battling back in the second set, but his comeback bid fell short in a 6–1, 6–4 defeat.

The schedule didn’t get easier from there for Oberlin, as they then traveled to face off against seventh-ranked Kenyon College (14–3, 3–0 NCAC). The Lords proved to be too much for the Yeomen, winning all singles and doubles matches en route to a 9–0 victory. Oberlin did play strong tennis in doubles competition, as both the top pairing of senior Leo Sprinzen and first-year Charlie Marks and the third seeded tandem of Chun and Heaton were very competitive. Both pairs ended up losing in 8–4 contests, but they gained valuable experience for the upcoming conference tournament.

“We’ve been a little banged up the last couple matches, and I think we’ll be healthy for the conference tournament, which will make a huge difference in both play and confidence,” Head Coach Adam Shoemaker said. “We have our future in our hands and that’s a great feeling going into the tournament.”

The men will finish off the regular season at home Friday at 4:30 p.m. against Allegheny College (9–4, 0–1 NCAC). “The Allegheny match is important,” Shoemaker added. “We are playing for the No. 2 or No. 3 seed from our half of the conference, and that is a big difference in what will be our first round matchup. The guys are hungry, and I think we are in a good spot to be able to knock Allegheny off.”

The conference tournament will take place on April 29 and 30.

The Yeowomen also faced a difficult challenge this week, as they were pitted against sixth-ranked Denison, a potential NCAC Conference Tournament opponent. The Big Red proved too much for Oberlin, taking the match 7–2. Junior standout Ariel Lewis, the region’s No. 10 ranked player, continued her strong play in picking up a win for the Yeowomen against Denison’s Sarah Short 6–1, 2–6, 11–9. The winner of 18 matches this season, Lewis will be making a push to rise through the regional rankings in hopes of qualifying for Nationals. Fellow junior Brie White-Dzuro was also victorious, topping Courtney Steiner in a tight third set at the No. 6 spot for a 6–1, 1–6, 10–6 win.

That was all the success Oberlin would have, however. Junior Finley Gates was edged by Kelsey Geppner in second singles 6–1, 6–3. Fellow junior Rebecca Brown kept things competitive in fourth singles but eventually fell 6–2, 6–4.

With just four regular season contests remaining, Oberlin will look to gain some momentum heading in to the conference tournament against Allegheny (10–6, 1–2 NCAC) at home this Friday at 4:30 p.m.