Opponents Ace Out Raider Tennis Teams

Evan Xenopoulos

After a hot start to the spring season, both the men’s and women’s tennis teams went on the road last weekend and combined to earn a record of 1-4.

Each squad faced stiff competition and, although they did not win many of their matches, both teams gained key experience before their Patriot League schedules begin next month.

The men squared off against Swarthmore and St. Joseph’s at Swarthmore University. The Raiders’ first match pitted them against the home team, one of the top Division III tennis teams in the nation.

The men got off to a great start against Swarthmore by taking the doubles point. Head coach Patrick Fisher has made it clear thus far that the team’s success begins with success at doubles, and the team responded this time. Junior Chris Innes and first-year Martin MacIntyre had a great showing at first doubles as they won, 8-5. Junior Marshall Wheeler and sophomore Mickey Gallagher followed suit with a strong 8-3 win. Lastly, sophomore Tyler Deck and first-year Matthew McCormick completed the sweep of the doubles pairings with an 8-4 victory.

With momentum in their favor, the Raiders went on to win four of the six singles matches to take the win. Gallagher (second singles), MacIntyre (third singles), Wheeler (fourth singles) and Deck (fifth singles) all brought home wins for the Raiders.

Fisher was certainly pleased to see the men get their first victory of the spring season.

“We played a good D-III team and I feel we beat them convincingly,” he said. “It was great to get the doubles point and I am very happy we came out strong. We took care of business and I am happy with our performance.”

The week was not done for the Raiders, as they stayed at Swarthmore to compete against a very tough St. Josephs squad the following day.

Unlike against Swarthmore, the Raiders could not establish early momentum by losing the doubles point by a close 2-1 margin. Gallagher and Wheeler had the only doubles win, but the Raiders came close to taking number one doubles as well.

Even so, the team knew it had to play well in singles – and each of the top three singles players responded by taking the first set. Although Innes lost his match against Swarthmore, he redeemed himself with a great three-set victory at first singles. Gallagher was the only other singles player to win at second singles, completing a perfect weekend for the sophomore.

“I felt like this weekend was definitely a step in the right direction,” Wheeler said. “Although we dropped the decision to St. Joe’s, we showed that we can play with one of the tougher teams in the region. We’re only going to get better as the season progresses.”

The Raider women played two very tough teams last weekend, coming out on the wrong end of 7-0 matches against Syracuse and Buffalo.

Despite the losses, Fisher remains optimistic about his team. “We had a tough weekend, but it shows the team that we need to get better mentally and physically,” he said. “I think we got humbled a little bit, but those were two really tough teams we played. All we can do is get back on the courts and use this to get better for the future.”

Junior Jackie Couture and sophomore Alex Seaton played well for the Raiders, as the duo won its doubles match against Buffalo and Seaton came close to winning her second singles match against Buffalo’s Kristen Ortman before losing in a tight third-set super tiebreak.

The Raiders must now forget about their recent difficulties and look forward to this weekend, as both teams will be at home at the Sanford Fieldhouse. The women square off against Niagara, a team that has reached the NCAA Tournament in the past. Fisher feels the women can be successful, but only if the team comes out prepared, mentally and physically.

The men have two home matches against Niagara and Buffalo. The men easily dispatched Niagara last year, but Fisher is making sure that his team does not overlook any opponent. Buffalo has done very well in its conference and will be a good test for the men.