After a difficult and disappointing spring break, the Colgate men’s and women’s tennis teams were in action last weekend and broke out of their respective mini-slumps. While the women’s team split its two matches, the Raider men recorded one of their biggest victories of the season.
After losing its first Patriot League match to Army 7-0, the Colgate men knew that they needed a big performance at home against Navy. The Midshipmen, predicted to finish third in the Patriot League this year, beat the Raiders last season; as a result, the men were hoping to exact some revenge at Sanford Fieldhouse.
The match started off with three exciting doubles matches. Junior Chris Innes and first-year Martin MacIntyre won their match to give the Raiders an early 1-0 lead. Sophomores Tyler Deck and Mike Shea teamed up at third doubles, but were unable to pull out a victory, leaving the doubles point squarely on the shoulders of junior Marshall Wheeler and sophomore Mickey Gallagher.
Wheeler and Gallagher had four match points to give the Raiders the opening point, but Army’s strong first doubles squad managed to prevail, 9-8 (3). Even with the heartbreaking doubles loss, the Raiders held their heads high and came out prepared for singles play.
As the singles matches began, dozens of fans came out to support the men’s team and that support may have proved to be the decisive factor in the match.
Wheeler was the first off the court with an impressive 6-2, 7-6 (4) victory at fourth singles. Just one week before, the team had feared losing Wheeler to a back injury, but he came out strong and won a crucial match for the Raiders.
The next Raider to notch an important win was MacIntyre, who was playing at second singles. Although he lost the first set, MacIntyre staged an impressive comeback to give the Raiders a 2-1 lead with a 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 win. Gallagher followed MacIntyre shortly thereafter with a great three-set victory at third singles, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.
With the team up 3-1, the Raiders needed Innes to wrap it up and come through at first singles. After losing the first set, 3-6, the massive crowd refused to let Innes lose, cheering loudly after every point. By using his massive serve and forehand, Innes won the second set 7-5. The third set was just as tight, as both players did not give up a break. After both players saved multiple match points, Innes finally put the match away up 10-9 and allowed the celebration to begin.
After witnessing his team grind out a tough victory head coach Patrick Fisher was extremely pleased of his players.
“This was just a crazy match,” Fisher said. “I feel our tough schedule helped prepare us for a match like this and I am very happy with how we played. We definitely could have had the doubles point, but we shook it off and played amazing singles. It is great to have a full, healthy lineup and I just hope we can use this momentum in the upcoming weeks.”
MacIntyre credited the home crowd for the team’s big win.
“It was such an awesome match to be a part of on Saturday,” MacIntyre said. “Our fans got so loud and were so into the match that they really played a big role in pulling us through the tough parts of our matches.”
The win gives the men a boost of confidence heading into the end of the league schedule. With the victory, the team now has its eyes set on qualifying for the Patriot League Tournament.
Not to be forgotten, the Raider women’s team was also in action this weekend. The women started their weekend off with a convincing 6-1 victory over Holy Cross. The team swept the doubles point and then won five of six singles matches to take home the easy victory over the Crusaders.
However, the true matchup for the women awaited them the following day, when they traveled to West Point to take on Army. Although the ladies lost 6-1, junior Jackie Couture was a bright spot for the Raiders, garnering Colgate’s only singles win with a 6-3, 6-1 victory at first singles and combining with sophomore Alex Seaton for the Raiders’ sole doubles win, an 8-4 triumph at first doubles.
Despite the loss, Fisher still seemed upbeat about his team’s prospects heading into the stretch run of the season.
“I feel the match was closer than 6-1,” Fisher said. “We got close to winning the doubles point and if we did that, who knows what could have happened. We feel Army is beatable and we just hope we get another chance to play them. If we can continue to improve like this, we can definitely qualify for the Patriot League Tournament and pose a threat to other teams.”
Both tennis teams are off this weekend, but next weekend marks a critical weekend as the men and women square off against Lehigh and Lafayette. Fisher hopes that both teams can qualify for the Patriot League Tournament, as they did a year ago, and given their recent level of play, this wish can definitely become a reality if each squad continues to excel.