Men’s and Women’s Tennis Look to Build Momentum as Season Ramps Up

Richie Rosen, Staff Writer

For a sport known for feats of graceful and seemingly effortless athleticism, it can be easy to forget that tennis requires an incredible amount of physical endurance and unbreakable mental toughness. Matches can last for multiple hours, and there is hardly any let-up — every point matters. The impressive athletes of the Colgate Men’s and Women’s Tennis teams might make playing tennis look simple, but any serious player knows that the sport is light years from being easy. Here is how the Raiders’ tennis seasons have shaped up recently.

So far, the spring season has been a bit of a mixed bag for the men’s squad. With an 0-8 record, the results haven’t been what the team was expecting, but the score sheet only tells part of the story. 

“The team is working really hard,” sophomore Mikey Weitz said. “We do what we’re supposed to do – the results are going to come.”

One of the most promising aspects of this year’s team is that they are loaded with young talent. 

“We have four first-years on the team, three are in the starting lineup and they have all won their first college matches, which is a big deal,” Weitz said. 

Having solid support from underclassmen is a crucial component of any competitive tennis program. Nothing in the sport is guaranteed, but a talented group of first-years and sophomores puts the team in line for future success.

But that’s not to write off the current season. With the Patriot League matches still to come in March, there is plenty of time for the team to right the ship when it matters most. 

Weitz noted that the team has struggled with “getting off to a hot start in matches,” which often leaves them having to dig themselves out of a hole for the rest of the day.

“Sometimes at that point, it’s too late,” Weitz said. “There’s been a point in almost every single match where we could have won, but it just didn’t all come together.” 

Meanwhile, the Women’s Tennis team has started off their season with a bang. 

“We came out really hungry this year,” senior Emme Levenson said. “We’re 3-3 right now, but we had a fantastic first weekend. We started out with Brown, and then we had a huge win over Providence.”

“Huge win” is almost an understatement. After losing to the Friars by a razor-thin score of 3-4 last season, the Raiders made a statement this time around, beating them by a resounding 5-2 margin. Since then, the team has been on a tear, beating Rider University 5-2 and steamrolling over Binghamton 7-0.

The shutout win against Binghamton on Feb. 26 also marked head coach Bobby Pennington’s 600th game coached for Colgate Tennis over 17 seasons. Pennington, who extended his contract in the fall to stay at Colgate through 2027, is now one of only two Colgate tennis coaches to reach the milestone. Pennington spoke to the excitement of the match.

“[It is] definitely very surreal and humbling to coach 600 matches at the same school,” Pennington said. “I could not think of a better way to celebrate 600 than a 7-0 sweep, our women having a winning record on the year, and my wife and three kids at the match with signs to celebrate.”

Sophomore Addie Ecklund also added: “I was very proud to be a part of such a monumental moment for our team and to celebrate our coach’s career so far. Our dominant win shows where this program is going in the future and strongly reflects our potential for the season to come.”

As Levenson put it, “Our theme of the year is [that this is] our revenge tour. We’ve been winning some really big matches and are looking to keep up that momentum. Overall it’s been a really strong start to the spring.” 

The women’s team is loaded with depth and talent. So much so, in fact, that Levenson said it has become something of a chess game to try and slot everyone into the lineup where they would be of most use. 

“So far our biggest challenge has been figuring out where to put everyone to maximize team success,” she said. “This is the first year where every single person on our team can play in any spot. We have nine super-talented girls who can play anywhere in the lineup. [The challenge] is figuring out who should play where, and what’s best for the team.”

As far as challenges go in tennis, this is a good one to have. It’s a testament to the skill of the players and the guidance of the coaching staff. Levenson, speaking for herself and the rest of the team, had nothing but high praise for the coaches.

“Our coaches Bobby [Pennington], Jake [Sandler], and Rob Israel are super dedicated to helping us as individuals. They are always willing to help,” Levenson said. “Being here for four years, [I’ve observed that] every single year we’ve gotten better as a team. I’ve never seen anything like that in college tennis. I think that’s a testament to how great the coaches are at working with us. Everyone improves every single year; it’s been really cool to see.” 

The women’s team heads into March with all the poise and confidence that you might expect from a team that knows its talent. The rest of the Patriot League is on high alert. For women’s tennis, the key to their continued success, as Levenson puts it, is “bringing a lot of energy on the court” during matches and practice. If they can do that, there looks to be a very bright future ahead for the team.