The men’s tennis team had their first regular-season meet this past Saturday, Feb. 16 at Lakeland University. The Fire earned their first win since April 2, 2017 when they defeated Ripon. The team is very young, with four of the seven players being freshman.
Last season, the team went 0-16 overall. In 2016-17, the team was 1-16. Winning this first match is already opening the team up for a more successful season than those previous.
The team kicked off the day with freshman Ajay Gustafson winning his #1 singles match 6-0, 6-1. Junior Jared Schwarz won his #3 singles match 6-0, 6-1. Gustafson and Schwarz partnered up to win their #1 doubles match 8-2.
“It felt great. This is the first victory in about two years for the team so we were pretty excited about that, pretty pumped,” Schwarz said.
Schwarz has been playing tennis since sixth grade. Gustafson has been playing for about the same time, around 10 years. Gustafson believes the team reached their goals over the weekend.
“So our goals overall are, obviously, always try your best, make sure you leave 100 percent on the court and put in your best effort. Try to get in your opponent’s head before they get into yours because it’s a mental game as well as a physical game. And judging by our results, I’d say we did pretty well at that overall,” Gustafson said.
Sophomore Brad Newland defeated his #2 singles opponent 6-4 and 6-1. Freshman Dobbin Pine teamed up with Newland to win the #2 doubles match 8-7. This was a great matchup because Pine and Newland were down 3-6 and won three games in a row to tie things up. They broke the tie and won 7-4.
Freshman Oscar Sanchez had his first college win ever, winning the #6 singles match with a score of 6-3 and 6-4. Sanchez and freshman Misha Broyles had a close match with the #3 doubles, losing by a narrow margin of 6-8.
Senior Kyle Yang had his #5 singles match, a close 1-6 and 6-3. Pine lost 6-4, 1-6, 4-6 in #4 singles but put up a good fight.
The team has been practicing six out of seven days in the week and use a facility called Lakeside, about 10 minutes from campus, that has newer indoor tennis courts. Schwarz believes the freshman have helped the team be so successful in this first competition and in moving on into the season.
“We have basically a freshman team, we’ve got four freshman, and they’ve really helped us get over the hump, so to speak. They really gave a breath of fresh life to the team,” Schwarz said.
The Fire will host Illinois College and Greenville on Feb. 23.