Crawling Out Of The Gate

Evan Xenopoulos

The Raider men’s tennis team has begun its spring season with both new and returning faces looking to lead the team. Head coach Patrick Fisher, now in his second semester at the helm of the Raider tennis teams, has hopes of a successful season with the Raider men. On top of having a great new coach, the team is led by its two senior captains, Reed Hagmann and Pete Oman, who will play an intricate role in the team’s success. Hagmann, who is currently ranked fifth in the Northeast Region, is coming off a great fall in which he posted a 10-3 record at the first singles spot. If he can put up similar numbers in the spring, he will greatly increase his team’s chances of winning. The tennis team, however, got off to a rough 1-4 start after facing some tough opponents. Two weekends ago, the team attended the Larsen Bowker 5-1 Shootout at Virginia Tech as a kickoff to its season. At the Shootout, the team played four matches against Austin Peay, Liberty, Radford and nationally-ranked Virginia Tech. After a promising start to the weekend with a 5-2 victory over Austin Peay, the Raiders lost their next three matches by the scores of 4-3, 5-2 and 7-0. The players were not too happy about the results, but it gave the team invaluable court experience and important warm-up matches before league play begins in February. Last weekend, the Raiders hoped to end their three-match losing streak when they faced St. Bonaventure, but again met with defeat. The Raiders were down 3-0 and made an incredible comeback to make it 3-3; however, first-year Michael Gallagher lost the deciding match in heartbreaking three sets. “I just need to get my act together and start playing the tennis that I know I can play,” Gallagher said. Even with that loss, Gallagher is a first-year with some great promise and will have many opportunities this year to win some big matches for the Raiders. Fisher was still optomistic after the St. Bonaventure match, “Our doubles had a really tough time and that put us down early,” he conceded. “However, our singles competed very well and gave us a chance to win. We definitely need our doubles to improve and, although we lost, this match gave our team great match experience when playing under pressure.” One of Fisher’s main concerns is getting the team more match experience, especially with a team that has many first-years and sophomores. As the team plays more matches, Fisher knows that the team will improve and start getting more positive results.”I feel optimistic for the season, but everyone must also realize that this year’s schedule is the toughest schedule the team has ever faced,” Fisher noted. “The schedule has six nationally-ranked teams, four Ivy League schools and the Atlantic-10 champion from last season. Our record right now is at 1-4 and is not indicative of how well we are playing in each match. It’s tough to get positive results against such tough opponents, but this tough schedule will test the team and definitely help us prepare for conference play.” The Raiders were also dealt a serious blow when outstanding sophomore Marshall Wheeler injured his back. Wheeler, who will be out of commission for about a month and a half was disappointed, “You know, I am just saddened that I cannot play, but I am just going take this injury one day at a time and hope that I can play by the end of the year,” he said. Even with Wheeler’s injury, Fisher emphasized how important it is for the team to rally around the injury and step up their play. He feels that while the injury is a big loss to the lineup, but a great opportunity for other players to get some playing time. Even so, the team must move on and look to this weekend’s big clash against Brown. Hagmann is especially fired up for this match after losing to Brown’s first singles player in the fall. “Brown is one of the best teams in the East,” Hagmann said. I think much of their success comes from their questionable line calls. It will be important for everyone on our team to make sure that there are line judges on the court for every big point.” Those are some big words by a prime- time player who hopes for great success in his final semester at Colgate. With the season underway, the Raiders hope to get some wins under their belt before starting Patriot League play. With an optimistic coach and a team thirsty for success, this year’s squad should be a threat for the Patriot League title.