Men’s tennis doubles team Kyle Wolfe ’18 and Jerry Jiang ’19 won their first match at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Oracle Cup on Thursday against the No. 3 seeded team from Saint Thomas. The duo is up against top teams from seven other regions across the country and will face a No. 2 seeded team from Trinity University in the semifinals today at 1 p.m. PST. 

“They have good competition, the teams they’re going to be playing out there are all some of the best teams in the country, there are no walk-overs,” said Head Coach Conor Smith. “[But] we’re pretty biased, we feel like we have one of the strongest regions. If New England isn’t the strongest region, it’s gotta be in the top two or three.”

To earn their spot at the Oracle Cup, as well as All-American honors, Jiang and Wolfe won the doubles tournament at the ITA Regional Championships at Williams College on October 1. They entered the draw as the third seed and beat seventh seed Middlebury to win the tournament’s doubles finals for the first time in program history. 

Other members of the team also performed well at the Regional Championship. In the singles draw, Grant Urken ’19 made it to the quarterfinals and Eliot Rozovsky ’20 made it to the round of 16.

All nine members of the team were able to compete in either the singles or doubles portion of the Regional Championships due to the team’s success last spring.

“Based on our standing last year we got more spots for the tournament so everyone was able to play,” Wolfe said.  “As a team we did really well across the board.”

Due to the Oracle Cup, Wolfe and Jiang will miss the MIT Fall Invitational this weekend, the team’s last tournament of the fall season.  The Invitational will be highly competitive, but Smith is focusing on the tournament as a chance for younger players to gain experience.

“It’s going to be a great opportunity for our first years to play some tougher competition that they may not see otherwise,” Smith said.

As the NCAA DIII defending champions, the team has high hopes for this year. However, Smith says the team is not too worried about comparing itself to last year’s team and living up to that standard.

“I think we always want to focus on the things you can control and being the absolute best that this team can be,” Smith said.

Although it has had a promising showing so far, the team sees the fall as a time to focus less on strong results at competitions. Instead, the team aims to use this season to establish a positive team culture and identity, learn which players work well in doubles pairs and lay the groundwork for a successful spring season.

Smith, who has been with the team for the past six years and was named the ITA DIII Men’s Tennis Coach of the Year last year, sees team culture as a crucial to success.

“I look at our team and the culture that our guys have built the last couple of years in particular and get a real sense of confidence,” Smith said. “That’s gonna be a huge edge that we have over those other teams.”