The men’s tennis team (14-3, 5-2 NESCAC) heads into its last weekend of the regular season looking to recover from a disappointing 7-2 loss to Bates (6-9, 5-3 NESCAC) on Wednesday. The defeat is the Polar Bears’ first loss to a team outside of the top five in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Division III rankings and ended a three-game win streak the team had developed after a tough loss to No. 1 Middlebury (16-2, 6-1 NESCAC).
The team’s wins against Bates came from Gil Roddy ’18 at No. 4 singles and Justin Patel ’20 at No. 6 singles, but they weren’t enough to counter the Bobcats sweep of the doubles matches and singles strength. Since the team’s biggest strength is consistently its doubles, the 0-3 start comes as a bit of a surprise.
Next up, the Polar Bears will face off against Tufts (8-6, 4-4 NESCAC) and Wesleyan (11-2, 6-1) this weekend in their last two NESCAC matches of the regular season.
While not underestimating Tufts, the big match of the weekend will be on Sunday when the team hosts red-hot Wesleyan. The Cardinals just toppled top-ranked Middlebury and are looking to climb into the top five of the national rankings before the postseason.
“Wesleyan has been really dangerous for a while and they have put in some good wins, but this has been their first season where they have consistently been a top team,” said Roddy. “It has definitely been a breakout season for them, especially shown by that win against Middlebury. It will be a really important match for us.”
Although the Jumbos are ranked 20th in the nation, they are looking to play spoiler this weekend.
“Tufts is actually a team that we lost to last year in the regular season going into the postseason. In terms of confidence, it was pretty tough to manage. So this year it is definitely a big match for us to be able to keep our confidence up going into do-or-die tennis in a few weeks,” said Luke Tercek ’18. “They are going to be going all out for our match because we are a highly-ranked team and they basically need the win.”
However, the team is confident heading into the weekend, especially due to the players’ ability to prevail in tight matches, such as in the team’s match against Williams.
“Jerry Jiang [’19] played especially well against Williams. His opponent was someone he had lost to in the fall and who has been really tough against Bowdoin in the past,” said Roddy. “[Jiang] lost the first set 6-2 and was down 5-2 in the second set in front of a pretty hostile Williams crowd. He was able to really tough it out and come back and win that match, winning the the third set 6-4. Without that match there was no way we could have won.”
The team will host Tufts tomorrow at 3 p.m. and Wesleyan on Sunday at noon as it looks to finish the regular season strong and secure a high seed for NESCAC Championships on May 5.