Mixed Start to Spring Season for Men’s Tennis

John Kelly

The men’s tennis team kicked off the season by competing in the West Point Invitational from January 19-21. Unfortunately, Colgate headed into the tournament without first singles competitor Chris Innes and was forced to adjust accordingly. Even with this challenge, the team performed solidly and nine players participated in matches for the Raiders. In the tournament, Colgate was led by the outstanding play of junior Tyler Deck who finished as the runner-up in the No. 4 singles draw. On his way to the finals, Deck outpaced first-year Lawrence Zakrevsky of Rutgers by a score of 2-6, 6-4, 10-8 and soundly defeated St. Joseph’s first-year Brent Kahl 6-1, 6-3 in the semi-final round. In the championship round, Deck went up against Marist first-year Christian Coley and handily took the first set with a score of 6-4. Unfortunately, he dropped the next two sets 6-2, 10-7 and lost the match.

“Tyler Deck played outstanding throughout the tournament,” Head Coach Bobby Pennington said. “During the off-season he really worked on his mental toughness and perfecting his attacking style. His effort and success in this tournament are a testament to the work he put in after the fall season ended.”

On the doubles side, the underclassmen tandem of sophomore Martin MacIntyre and first-year Michael Yassky led the Raiders to a fourth place finish in the top flight. The duo beat the Rutgers squad of junior Arjun Vaidya and senior Matthew Fawcett of Rutgers 8-5. In the semi-final round, Macintyre and Yassky faced off against a tough St. Joseph’s team of and fell 8-4 to junior Jarrett and first-year Chris Chirico and lost 8-4. In the consolation round, MacIntryre and Yassky battled hard once again but came up short 8-4 against Army senior Michael Good and sophomore Phil Muhawi.

“The team competed very hard this past weekend,” Pennington said. “It was an excellent field of teams with no easy matches.”

Coming off this strong performance, Colgate looked to carry this momentum over to its match-up against nationally ranked Penn State on January 29. Even with the return of senior Chris Innes to the No. 1 singles spot, the Raiders could not keep up with Penn State and lost 7-0.

“Penn State is at another level,” Pennington said. “They play in the Big Ten and are a nationally ranked opponent. Although I am disappointed with the loss it will definitely help us down the road in Patriot League play.”

“We really need to play a complete match from start to finish,” MacIntyre said. “We play very well at times. If we maintain a consistent high level of play, as we believe we can, we will be a very tough team to beat.”

Hoping to regain lost momentum, the Raiders traveled to the University of Buffalo to take on the Bulls. Although they lost 7-0, the match was a lot closer than it appears on paper. Both Deck and MacIntyre took their matches to third sets. MacIntyre, playing for his first time at the No.1 singles spot, won the first set 6-3 and took the next set to a tiebreaker before falling by a score of 7-6 (7-6). In the third and final set, MacIntyre had two match point opportunities, but could not put senior Mike Rockman away, falling by a score of 10-7.

“It (the match) definitely gave me confidence to play well and have match points against a tough Number 1 from Buffalo,” MacIntyre said.

He played great and was up 6-4 in tie-breaker,” Pennington said. Through the match Martin competed hard. He played aggressively and certainly stepped up in a number of clutch situations. Still the top guy on Buffalo played a great match and he has beaten some top quality opponents, so for Martin to take him to three sets was very encouraging.”

In the No. 4 position, Deck put on another strong showing. He claimed the first set 7-5 against senior Yules Hadisubroto before losing in the next two sets by a score of 6-1, 6-1. Coach Pennington was pleased with the team’s progress.

“The toughest part of the schedule is almost over,” Pennington said. “From here on out every match we play in is very winnable. Each week the team is getting better and better. Once the players get more physically and mentally prepared I expect a different outcome.”

MacIntrye echoed this sentiment.

“We are working hard to get better every day and we are improving every week,” MacIntyre said. “By continuing to improve at this pace we will be in great shape and I expect the team to make some serious noise when we start our Patriot League schedule.”