The men’s tennis team is heading into the NESCAC Championship on the heels of the team’s most successful season in program history. To cap off the team’s success, all three seniors captains are graduating with their names on the Bowdoin men’s tennis record books for achievements in both doubles and singles play.
All three—Kyle Wolfe ’18, Luke Tercek ’18 and Gil Roddy ’18—hold Bowdoin records for doubles wins, with Wolfe taking both the No. 1 and No. 5 spot with different partners. Roddy and Wolfe hold additional records for singles wins, coming in No. 3 and No. 9 respectively.
The team, which is ranked third in the nation, finished the regular season with a 17-1, 8-1 NESCAC record. Head Coach Conor Smith attributed the season’s success to the strength of his senior captains. The three of them were shoved into a leadership role last year as there were no seniors on last year’s team.
“These guys were a magnet from the very beginning. When they got older, they brought everyone else in,” said Smith. “Juniors and seniors could blow off the younger guys, but I think [the seniors] want them to have even more success than they did. That’s a large part of what’s made them so strong. [Their] experience absolutely helps, but they’d probably sit here and tell you that a huge reason for their success in leadership or as a team is as much because [of] the younger guys.”
In the seniors’ first year season, the team prided itself on being smaller than other NESCAC competitors. This year, it added five additional players to its roster, increasing to 14 overall.
“We had a little bit of a chip on our shoulders, feeling like we were closer than other teams because we were smaller,” Wolfe said. “Then we worried that this year the team would be too big and that it would go against everything we thought we were.”
The senior captains took great care to address the changing dynamics of the team and successfully integrated new players into the team culture.
“It’s been really awesome having a bunch of extra guys in practice that are able to push [us] and make us get better every single day,” said Tercek. “On match day, a lot of them are awesome supporters of people playing in the match. It’s great for them to bring that energy and extra fire.”
Roddy said he will miss the camaraderie between starting and benched players—the large team was a motivation for him to play harder.
“A lot of NESCAC teams have bigger squads and will generate a lot of noise,” said Roddy, “But with our guys it’s 100 percent genuine. When we’re out on the court and in the middle of a match, [we can hear] the benched guys, and it feels like it’s just the 14 of us against the world. I think that’s the coolest feeling for me.”
The team’s three captains have different personalities and areas of focus. Roddy, an older sibling himself, migrated toward working with underclassmen, while Wolfe was vocal in team huddles. Tercek was a positive example of consistent determination and effort. Together, the three seniors brought confidence and enthusiasm to match days.
“[On] match day, the three of them are unflappable,” said Smith. “I’ve seen them in so many tough, pressure-filled circumstances, and they all had this belief [in the team], and they love to compete. That’s the common denominator between them and [what has] allowed them to be so successful. They just love to compete, and it’s all in different ways.”
Not only did the seniors connect to their teammates, but Wolfe’s college experience was also largely shaped by the tennis fans he met and connected with on campus.
“Todd Hermann works in Career Planning,” said Wolfe. “He’s a huge tennis guy [and] comes to all of our matches. We’re very close to him. Dante, who works in the pub, is also a huge tennis fan, and Dave, who works at Thorne. A lot of people who have made my Bowdoin experience special have been through the tennis team, and it’s been cool to share our success with them.”
For Smith, the seniors’ impact on the team for the past four years is unrivaled.
“I can close my eyes and know what 50 percent of our singles line up has looked like for the past four years,” he said. “These are three guys I have been able to trust for four years. Not just on match day, but outside [of it] as well.”