Men's tennis annihilates back-to-back opponents 6-1 and 7-0

by Mark Cui | 1/19/16 7:20pm

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Tiffany Zhai / The Dartmouth Senior Staff

The No. 42 Dartmouth men’s tennis team kicked off the new year with a pair of dominating home wins last Saturday over the State University of New York at Buffalo and Bryant University, with respective team scores of 6-1 and 7-0.

The Big Green defeated Buffalo 6-1 on Saturday, compiling a 2-1 record in double matches and 5-1 in single matches. The doubles matches for the day were best of one set, whereas the singles matches were best of three sets.

“I think we played well. It’s always nice to win at home the first two matches,” Dovydas Sakinis ’16 said. “It gets our confidence going before tougher opponents come in. It’s always good to start off the season well.”

The Dartmouth double tandem of Sakinis and Brendan Tannenbaum ’16 easily won their first match 6-0. Diego Pedraza ’17 and Roko Glasnovic ’19 also won, grinding out a thrilling 7-6(7) victory over Pablo Alvarez and Amar Hromic. The third doubles team of Max Fliegner ’18 and George Wall ’17 lost in a close 4-6 battle to Sergio Arevalillo and Ehtan Nittolo.

On the singles side, two matches went into three sets, of which Dartmouth won both. After dropping the first set, Ciro Riccardi ’18 won two straight over Alvarez for a final score of 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-4, while Fliegner also dropped the first set before winning 3-6, 6-3, 6-2. Sakinis, Tannenbaum and Wall claimed victory in straight sets, with respective scores of 7-6(3), 6-4; 6-1, 6-3; and 6-4, 7-5. The lone singles loss was from Pedraza, who lost a hard fought battle against Arevalillo 4-6, 4-6.

The Big Green followed with a 7-0 shutout against Bryant in the same day, going 3-0 in doubles and 6-0 in singles. The team switched around its doubles lineup for Bryant.

“This is normal at the start of the year,” Wall explained. “We often try a number of different combinations in doubles to try and find our best lineup. As the season progresses, there will be fewer changes in the lineup across singles and doubles.”

In spite of the change, the three Dartmouth double partnerships of Fliegner and Wall, Tannenbaum and Max Schmidt ’17 and Glasnovic and Joey Haig ’19 all won with respective scores of 6-2, 6-2 and 6-4. On the singles side, four of the six Dartmouth victories came through straight sets. Sakinis, Fliegner, Eddie Grabill ’19 and Schmidt won their respective matches against Max Vogt, Oliver Welsh, Luke Lorenz and Michael Plutt with final scores of 6-2, 6-2 for Sakinis, 6-3, 6-1 for Fliegner, 6-2, 7-6(3) for Grabill and 6-4, 6-2 for Schmidt. Aman Agarwal ’18 and Paul Midgley ’18 also emerged victorious against Artur Jakubowski and Jorge Ortiz-Garcia, respectively, pulling out resilient 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(4) and 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 victories.

Despite the deceptively lopsided final team scores against Buffalo and Bryant, Sakinis noted that the individual games were still a good challenge for the team.

“It was really tough,” Sakinis said. “[Buffalo and Bryant] were unranked but hungry to win. The result doesn’t show how hard it is. A lot of the matches were really close. It was a good test.”

For many on the team, the games were a good way to bounce back and prepare for the long season to come.

“I just wanted to find my game,” Sakinis added. “It’s difficult after the long break. We didn’t practice as a team for six or seven weeks. I practiced back in Lithuania, but it’s a different court, different ball. As more matches come, I hope to be back to my best shape. Although I didn’t play my best the first match, I’m just happy I found a way to dig deep and win.”

The games were especially good for the freshmen, Wall added.

“We were able to get our feet wet in this new season and start out on a positive note,” Wall said. “It was great to give all three of our freshmen their first taste of a dual match.”

Overall, the team was happy with both the process and the outcome.

“I think we wanted to get ourselves back into the dual-match setting,” Pedraza said. “Obviously, we wanted to win, as we always do. However, these matches were great opportunities to see where some guys were in terms of preparation. We knew both teams had nothing to lose and that they were going to come for us. We simply wanted to execute our games and stay calm when things got tight. And that is exactly what we did.”

After an encouraging last season in which the team barely missed the cutoff for the team tournament, the goal for the end of the new season remains the same.

“We finished second in the Ivy League last year and missed an NCAA Tournament berth by two spots in the national ranks,” Wall said. “That hurts. So this year our goals are simple.”

Sakinis also emphasized the same goal, expressing confidence in the team’s ability to achieve it.

“I think the team is very capable this year,” Sakinis said. “A lot of guys play at a high level, and can be in the lineup. Lineup decisions might be hard for the coach but it’s a good thing. We have great depth.”

Although Pedraza, like the rest of his team, looks forward to accomplishing these goals, he cautioned that “there is still a lot of work to do, and it’s gonna take a team effort to accomplish them.”

The team will next play a string of home games, starting with Clemson University on Jan. 22.