After playing the first half of the season indoors, both the men’s and women’s tennis teams got their first taste of outdoor play in Florida over Spring Break. The teams finished a combined 1-5 over break, but they competed very well and were able to adapt quickly to the outdoor conditions.
Before the men even played their first Spring Break match, they were met with terrible injury news from two key players on the team. Both junior Marshall Wheeler and first-year Matthew McCormick suffered injuries, which left the Colgate men extremely underhanded going to Daytona Beach.
Wheeler suffered an injury to his back, which kept him out most of last season, but he is expected to make a quick recovery. McCormick, on the other hand, is expected to be out about four to eight weeks after suffering a stress fracture to his shin.
Nonetheless, the team played well considering it only had five players starting in each match. Indiana defeated the Raiders 7-0 in the first match, but the Raiders played well in both singles and doubles against a very tough Big 10 team.
Junior Chris Innes lost in three sets at first singles, and the Raiders also came close to taking one of the three doubles matches.
The Raiders did not let that loss get to them as they prepared for a battle against Bethune-Cookman. The men would lose 4-3, but they played excellently in every match. Given their injuries, the Raiders had to default one singles and one doubles match, putting them at a serious disadvantage before the match even started. The men fought hard, winning three singles matches, but they were unable to find a fourth victory.
“The injuries hurt us big time, but I felt we played very well in the first two matches,” head coach Patrick Fisher said. “No one let the injuries get to them and I was happy with how everyone competed in each match.”
The final spring break match for the men came against a Stetson squad that had no trouble beating the Raiders last season. This season, however, Colgate played a much better match and lost, 4-3, even with the injury disadvantages.
Stetson was easily able to take the doubles point, as that is one of their strengths, but the Raiders also proved themselves in singles, taking the second, third and fourth singles spots. As in the previous two matches, the Raiders did not have a sixth singles player.
“It is difficult having such little depth, but none of the players let that get to them,” Fisher said. “We almost beat a quality Stetson squad without our whole team and I am really happy about that. I just hope we can get everyone back to full strength and get prepared for the remainder of the Patriot League schedule.”
While the men did not attain a victory, the Raider women finished the week 1-2 and earned quality outdoor experience for the rest of the season.
In their first match, the women went up against a very tough Northern Illinois squad, but the women won convincingly, 5-2. The Raiders took the doubles point and then clinched the match with great singles play.
“I am really proud about how we competed, especially at doubles,” Fisher said. “It is probably the best we have played in any match from start to finish. This win against Northern Illinois is probably our best all year and I hope we can improve on that.”
The women’s next match was against Bethune-Cookman, which ended in a 6-1 loss. Again the Colgate women took the doubles point, but the players could not convert any points in the singles matches. Even so, the Raiders are showing great improvement in doubles, and that will be crucial during Patriot League play.
The last match the ladies played was against Jacksonville, and it was the only match over Spring Break in which the women did not win the doubles point. Nonetheless, the team was able to garner two points at singles and finish off a solid Spring Break.
“I feel we are competing very well going into our Patriot League schedule and I hope we can keep our doubles going as well as it has,” Fisher said. “We are going to need our doubles to play well during the Patriot League and, if our singles continue to improve, I feel we can do very well this season.”
Both the men and women have crucial Patriot League matches this weekend, as the men face off against Navy at home and the women go on the road to face Holy Cross and Army. Both teams will be looking to get off to quick starts and put pressure on their opponents early. The matches will be very tough, but both teams have the components they need to win in the Patriot League this season.