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Men’s tennis team serves up success in weekend games against Colby, Wesleyan and Trinity

April 25, 2024

Courtesy of Brian Beard
MAKING A RACKET: Doubles pair Andrew Mendelson ’26 and Pieter Breuker ’26 congratulate each other during a match. The men’s tennis team will face Middlebury College tomorrow and Williams College on Sunday.

The men’s tennis team (14–5; 5–2 NESCAC) took three NESCAC wins last week, with an early victory against Colby College (8–1) last Thursday followed by two wins against Wesleyan University (8–1) and Trinity College (7–2) at home games over the weekend. Now sporting a  three-game winning streak, the team is ranked seventh in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) and fifth in the NESCAC.

To begin the series of successes, the team trumped Colby (7–8; 4–4 NESCAC) with early wins in all three doubles courts. The Polar Bears were then able to finish the game with wins in five of six singles courts, among which four were straight-set easy victories.

Building off its momentum, the team delivered several straight-set wins in the singles matches against Wesleyan (5–10; 4–5 NESCAC) the following Saturday. Doubles pair Ethan Bradley ’24 and Jackson Codd ’27 pulled off a close tiebreak (8–7), which allowed the team to end the Wesleyan matches with a 3–0 lead in doubles.

“A lot of our success has to do with all the preparation we’ve been putting in. We’ve been practicing every day and getting up early for lifts. It’s nice to see all the work we’ve put in pay off,” Codd said.

In Sunday’s match against Trinity (9–8; 3–6 NESCAC), the team took five of the six singles courts with standout Mark Kneiss ’26 winning in two straight-sets. Meanwhile, the team won all three doubles courts, which, when combined with the Wesleyan wins, meant the team finished the weekend’s matches with perfect doubles scores.

“Our goal this week was to come out with a strong start in doubles. We aimed to be composed and focused and to just trust that the results will take care of [themselves],” captain Tristan Bradley ’23 said.

Last weekend was also the team’s annual alumni weekend. Past Polar Bears filled the stands on Saturday to support the current players against their longtime rival Wesleyan.

“It’s always fun having them out, and it has been great to meet a lot of them,” Sujan Garapati ’25 said. “They have been so nice. Their screaming in the background creates a really fun atmosphere.”

Last year, the team got second place in the NESCAC championships and earned a spot at the NCAA DIII Tournament. This season, the team took a couple of early losses against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges (3–4) as well as Westcliff University (1–4). Going into last Thursday’s game against Colby, the team was carrying losses from games against Amherst College (4–5) and Tufts University (3–6). However, with fourteen wins this year, the team is approaching the final stretch of the season with confidence.

“Last year, we beat Colby 6–3, so this season’s score has definitely been a step in the right direction towards improvement and just a much better team performance,” Garapati said. “Trinity and Wesleyan were also much closer last year.”

With three more matches until the NESCAC championship in May, the team hopes to challenge itself to be better, both in its performance on the court and behavior off of it.

“We have some process-oriented goals where we try to have no bad practices,” Tristan Bradley said. “Also, it’s tough because tennis doesn’t have referees. We learned a couple weeks ago from playing Tufts—whether difficult words from other teams, line calls or other tense moments—the importance of staying composed in those big environments, which is another one of our goals.”

Undeterred by the individual nature of the sport, the team works to foster a strong community through early morning practices and time spent together off court. Even though the singles players always have to step onto the court alone, they know the team is standing behind them.

“We always stress having a one-through-12 performance. We wanted to feel strong from top to bottom, and I feel like we accomplished that goal this weekend,” Garapati said.

Between morning training and weekends spent traveling to away games, the team spends a majority of its time together. To strengthen their connection, the players will often do a fantasy football league or all pledge to get the same haircut. While passing the time between games, the team will watch TV or movies together, which creates an inclusive team culture.

“We focus on getting through all the tough situations together,” Tristan Bradley said. “We have different sayings that we will say during the matches to keep us cool during the big situations, which comes from our time spent bonding as a team.”

Tomorrow, the team will face Middlebury College (14–3; 7–1 NESCAC). Shortly after, it will travel to Williams College (13–2; 7–1 NESCAC) on Sunday for its final match before the NESCAC championship on May 5.


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