Captain Stephen Sullivan '11 has had many successful performances throughout his time at Bowdoin. However, last Saturday, he came up just short.
The men's tennis team showed its depth when six of its members competed in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Regional New England Championship last weekend at Williams, the second major tournament this fall. Next up is the Stony Brook Invitation on October 9, the final event of the Polar Bears' fall season.
Led by Sullivan, Bowdoin (currently ranked No. 15 in D-III tennis) had three doubles teams and four singles players play in the 16-team field.
A three-time All-American, Sullivan made it to the singles semifinals this year as the No. 2-seed. In 2008, he reached the finals in the doubles bracket. He eventually lost 6-4, 6-2 to the tournament's overall winner Felix Sun, a Williams sophomore who was the No. 4 seed. Sun won the NESCAC Rookie of the Year award last spring.
En route to the semis, Sullivan beat both Tufts' Pat Monaghan and Amherst's Justin Reindel in straight sets after a first-round bye. The quarterfinals presented a bit of a challenge for him, as Williams' Matt Micheli took the first set and fought hard in the second, but Sullivan held on to beat him 6-7(5), 7-5, 6-2.
After working hard throughout the summer in preparation for this year and strengthening his first serve, Sullivan said, "I came into the tournament hoping I could win it. I had a great tournament up until my last match, [and although] I was disappointed with the way I finished, it was a great learning experience."
In addition to Sullivan, Casey Grindon '13 and Sam King '14 won their first round singles matches in straight sets, but both lost in the second round. Grindon, King and Chris Lord '14 and all won their consolation matches.
"I've been working with Casey on hitting bigger groundstrokes," said coach Colin Joyner, "and he did a good job of implementing that on his wins on Saturday."
Bowdoin's doubles teams did not have as much success as the singles players.
The pairing of Grindon and Alex Jacobs '12 lost to the No. 7-seeded Middlebury team in the opening round, while the other two pairs, both of which matched a senior with a first year, lost in the second. Lord and captain Josh Roer '11 won a close match over MIT's team of Edwin Zhang and Brian Oldfield 9-8(4) in the first round before losing to Amherst third seeded team of Mark Kahan and Luis Ratenhuber 9-7.
The Bowdoin pair of Sullivan and King fell by the same score to Williams' team of Bryan Chow and Matt Micheli after beating Colby's Jack Bryant and Matt Carroll 8-3.
Though the doubles squads did not advance as far as the singles players, Joyner was impressed with the doubles teams' showings.
"Roer played big-time, ripping his forehand and first serve, and Chris was a rock on the ad side returning," he said. "Sullivan and King have a ton of talent, so with some more practice they could be very dangerous."
Sullivan looked forward to the possibility of playing more doubles with King.
"He's very committed to being a good tennis player, [he] is very intense, and helps keep me focused," he said. "Our personalities and styles work well together and I think we could be a great doubles team."
Since the fall season functions as a tuneup for the spring season, the tournament at Williams was an important opportunity for Bowdoin to gauge the strengths and weaknesses of its divisional rivals.
"The NESCAC is the strongest D-III tennis conference in the country, and this tournament included its best players [among others]," Joyner said.
The team's returning upperclassmen knew the quality of Bowdoin's opponents, but this weekend provided newcomers King and Lord with a taste of the competition.
"I think what the team took out of last weekend is that we can do great things this year," Sullivan added. "We are motivated, and we have ambitious players, an even more ambitious coach, and the work ethic and leadership to do something great."