Tennis Gets Mixed Results at Lehigh

Evan Xenopoulos

While the Raider women’s tennis team greatly improved its chances of qualifying for the Patriot League Tournament last weekend, the men’s team finds itself in a tough situation heading into the last weekend of matches.

Both squads were expected to play two matches last weekend, but both team’s matches against Lafayette were postponed due to inclement weather.

Nevertheless, the men and women played their matches against Lehigh the next day and the results of the two matches were very different.

The men knew how crucial their match against Lehigh would be towards clinching a spot in the Patriot League Tournament, but on this day the Raiders did not bring their best game.

Lehigh took the doubles point by winning all three doubles matches. Junior Marshall Wheeler and sophomore Mickey Gallagher came close to winning at first doubles, but the Mountain Hawks proved to be too strong.

Down a point, the Raiders hoped to mimic their success against Navy two weeks ago, where the men lost the doubles point against the Midshipmen but came back to win four of the six singles matches to claim the victory.

The men had hopes of making a comeback, but such dreams vanished quickly as Lehigh won all six singles matches. The critical loss dropped the team’s Patriot League record to 1-2.

“It is tough to say why we performed like that,” head coach Patrick Fisher said. “We prepared the same as any other week, but we did not come out with our best stuff. Now our backs are against the wall in the Patriot League and we basically have to win our last three matches to qualify for the tournament. The pressure is definitely on and if we can play our game this weekend, I feel we will be in good shape.”

Wheeler expressed the same sentiments as his coach.

“This past weekend was a huge disappointment,” he said. “Nobody really showed up to play, and we’re going to have to turn that around this weekend to give ourselves a shot of making the Patriot League Tournament. I’m confident that all of us will be able to put the Lehigh match out of our minds and step it up come Friday.”

While the men had a tough loss this weekend, the women’s team won a tight match against the Mountain Hawks by a score of 4-3.

The win gave the women their first Patriot League victory of the season and it dramatically increased their chances of qualifying for the Patriot League Tournament.

Unlike the men, the women got off to a great start by taking two of the three doubles matches. The early lead greatly impacted the ladies, giving them a lot of momentum heading into the singles matches.

First-year Cameron Thaney gave the Raiders a 2-0 lead with an easy straight sets victory at sixth singles, 6-3, 6-1. However, the Raiders would lose the third, fourth and fifth singles matches to go down, 3-2, with two matches to be decided.

With Lehigh leading, junior Jackie Couture and sophomore Alex Seaton knew that they had to step up their play at first and second singles, respectively. Both women were pushed to three sets, but they both prevailed in tiebreakers to give the women the crucial 4-3 victory.

“This was a great win and probably one of the best wins for the program in the past three or four years.” Fisher said. “Lehigh was picked to finish second in the Patriot League, but we showed that we can compete. This definitely improves our chances of qualifying and if we can continue our great play, we should be able to get into the tournament.”

Seaton was also impressed with her teammates’ performance against the Mountain Hawks.

“This match was definitely the most intense match we have had all year,” she said. “Three of the matches went to tiebreakers and the crowd was very emotional, making it even more exciting. The match against Lehigh was something that the team has been looking forward to all year long, and we proved ourselves out there this weekend. Everyone has been putting in the extra mile at practices and conditioning, and that obviously showed out on the courts this weekend.”

The uplifting victory, however, was somewhat overshadowed by what could potentially turn out to be a huge loss, as senior Lil Vo went down with a severely sprained ankle. Vo will be out for the remainder of the season, meaning that the team will have to step up its play for the team’s final three league matches.

Even with a full team, it will be a very tough weekend for the Colgate squads. Both the men and women will play three matches in three days this weekend – all on the road. After matches against Lafayette, Bucknell and American, however, both squads will know whether their seasons are over or if the postseason is in the cards.