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Men’s tennis takes second in NESCAC playoffs, looks to national tournament

May 4, 2023

Courtesy of Brian Beard
MAKING A RACKET: Tristan Bradley ’23, who was just named NESCAC Men’s Tennis Player of the Year, celebrates a win. The men’s tennis team has earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and will play at Williams College tomorrow.

Last weekend, the men’s tennis team (15–4; 8–2 NESCAC) placed second in the NESCAC Championship. The Polar Bears swept Bates College (7–9; 4–6 NESCAC) on Friday by a final score of 5–0 and won their game on Saturday against Williams College (14–4; 8–2 NESCAC) 5–2. While Bowdoin lost 4–5 to Middlebury College (15–3; 8–2 NESCAC) in the championship match on Sunday, the team ultimately feels proud of its performance and is eager to get back on the court for the NCAA DIII Tournament this weekend.

Against Middlebury, Bowdoin went up 2–1 in doubles play with wins from teams Ethan Bradley ’24/Pieter Breuker ’25 and Mark Kneiss ’26/Evan Fortier ’22. The singles matches were back and forth affairs, with Kneiss and Breuker each earning wins for Bowdoin, but Middlebury picked up wins in the final two singles matches to cement its victory.

Reid Staples ’24 credits the team’s first two wins of the tournament to its ability to play off each other’s energy.

“There’s a cohesion between all of us. We really manufactured this chemistry that gave us really strong starts in doubles and that continued in singles. Obviously, against Bates, all six singles started out right away,” Staples said. “I felt that I was playing really well and Tristan [Bradley] was right beside me, and we harnessed each other’s energy and got the job done in two sets. So it was great to get a quick victory over Bates.”

While the team knew that the match against Williams would be tough, Breuker believes the team’s preparation paved the way for the win.

“[Head Coach Conor Smith] gave us scouts of our players, but we weren’t really sure of [Williams’] lineup going into it….  [The match was] probably my favorite performance of the whole season,” Breuker said.

Despite the loss, the team is proud of how close the score was against Middlebury. Bowdoin felt inexperienced heading into the championship game since it was the team’s first finals appearance since 2018.

“I think [Middlebury] had a lot of momentum going into singles because I think they felt a little bit fortunate to win the last doubles match. They had some rejuvenation in a sense … but I also think in general they’ve had a lot of success in postseason play, and they’ve been there before [while] we really haven’t [in] the last couple years,” Bradley said.

Staples noted that despite inclement weather forcing the match indoors, the team was still able to have a strong start.

“We warmed up outside and were expecting to play outside, but then it started raining, so it was kind of chaotic getting indoors. The change of surface is pretty dramatic,” Staples said. “I’m just really proud of the team for getting … up in doubles.”

On Monday, Bowdoin earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, and on Thursday, captain Tristan Bradley ’23 was selected as the NESCAC Men’s Tennis Player of the Year. Bowdoin enters the tournament as the top seed and earned a first round bye. The Polar Bears will play the winner of the Nichols College (13–9) and Houghton University (15–6) match at Williams College tomorrow.  Bowdoin feels confident entering the tournament.

“We’re approaching [nationals] the same way we approached the NESCAC tournament. Just really wanting to sort of bring our team [and] show our team culture and just make it our match … bring our energy more than them,” Breuker said.


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