Tennis Tames Leopards

John Kelly

For the first time since 2002, the men’s Tennis team secured a victory in the Patriot League Tournament. Colgate entered the tournament with a six-game streak and pushed this stretch to seven by easily defeating a feisty Lafayette squad by the score of 4-0. This hard-fought victory earned a match-up with second-seed and defending Patriot League Champion Army. Unfortunately, the Black Knights proved too much, blanking the Raiders en-route to a 4-0 victory.

The Raiders started out the tournament strong by taking the doubles point in their quarter-final match against Lafayette. The super senior tandem of Chris Innes and Marshall Wheeler outpaced their opponents in the first spot, winning 8-2. First-year phenoms John Nogueras and Michael Yassky also proved too much for Lafayette, dispatching the Leopards by a score of 8-4. With the doubles point in tow, the Raiders continued their utter domination by winning at first, second and sixth singles. Since Colgate won the first four completed matches and clinched the win, the remaining matches were left unfinished.

“Lafayette has a talented team, but we were more mentally prepared. We played tough in big points,” Head Coach Bobby Pennington said. “Both the seniors paved the way by winning their doubles and singles matches.”

Riding the momentum of their Saturday triumph, the Raiders hoped to exact revenge for their earlier regular season loss against the Black Knights. Nogueras and Yassky started the Raiders off on the right track with an 8-5 win. However, the Raiders lost close matches at the first and second spots to lose the doubles point. Innes and Wheeler narrowly lost their match 8-6, while junior Tyler Deck and sophomore Marty MacIntyre lost their first doubles match since March 14, going down 8-5. The Raiders were unable to recover from their doubles defeat, allowing Army to earn the necessary four points for the victory. Wheeler entered his singles match with a 10-game winning streak, but could not continue his winning ways, falling 6-3, 6-4 to Michael Good.

Although it appeared to be a blowout on paper, in reality, the match was much closer.

“Going into the match, we realized Army would be a really tough opponent. They were the second-seed and in search of defending their title. The doubles points were really tight and had a few balls bounced our way we could have secured the point,” Pennington said. “However, losing those matches really affected our momentum and mental toughness. We were equally matched in terms of ability, but Army just us out a bit with their mental toughness.”

Still, Coach Pennington had nothing but praise for the team.

“This season has been a tremendous success. We had a seven-match winning streak and won our first Patriot League Tournament match since 2002,” Pennington said. “We finished the year with a winning record and there was a ton of individual success, particularly senior Marshall Wheeler’s 10-match wining streak.”

Coach Pennington also has high hopes for the future.

“We will definitely miss the stellar play of our two departing seniors. Chris Innes and Marshall Wheeler have left an indelible impact on the team,” Pennington said. “However we are returning seven of our nine starters and I expect us to have an even bigger season next year.”

The women will enter this weekend’s Patriot League Tournament at Lehigh University as the second seed. Next Sunday, Colgate will face the winner’s of the one vs. four match-up between Bucknell and Holy Cross.