Men's tennis splits home matches against ranked opponents
On Jan. 22 and 24, No. 41 Dartmouth men’s tennis continued its frenetic stretch of January matches by splitting its two home games, dominating No. 72 Clemson University 6-1 but falling in a narrow loss to No. 53 Pennsylvania State University 2-4. The team’s overall record stands at 3-1.
“The win over Clemson was great,” George Wall ’17 said. “It was great to turn the tables on them after they beat us pretty badly a few years ago. [Penn State] is very good and competitive. We played a very close match but maybe just needed to execute our game better in tight spots.”
The Big Green decisively claimed victory over Clemson on Friday, sweeping doubles 3-0 and finishing with a 5-1 record in singles. The Dartmouth double tandem of Dovydas Sakinis ’16 and Brendan Tannenbaum ’16 followed up last week’s 6-0 victory over the University of Buffalo with a 6-4 victory over Clemson’s Luke Johnson and Robert Dudley.
After losing 4-6 in a close match to Buffalo last week, the second duo of Max Fliegner ’18 and Wall avenged its loss with a 6-4 victory over Clemson’s Austin Ansari and Christian Harris. The final duo of Roko Glasnovic ’19 and Max Schmidt ’17 completed the sweep with a thrilling 7-6 (6) win over Clemson’s team of Alex Favrot and Daffra Sanon. Tannenbaum said the victory over Clemson gave the Big Green confidence.
“One of the key takeaways is that we can play with the big schools that come from Power 5 conferences,” Tannenbaum said. “We are a tough team to beat on our home courts and we gained experience against a good team that will help us going forward.”
The team also dominated on the singles side, with its five victories all coming in straight sets. Dartmouth’s Sakinis (ranked 18 nationally in singles), Ciro Riccardi ’18, Fliegner, Wall and Eddie Grabill ’19 all beat their Clemson counterparts Johnson, Favrot, Ansari, Arturo Pinazo and Dudley. The final scores of the five matches, respectively, were 6-1, 6-3; 7-6 (4), 7-5; 6-3, 6-3; 6-4, 6-4 and 6-2, 7-5. The lone loss came from Tannenbaum, who competed hard in a close 6-4, 6-3 battle against Clemson’s Sanon.
“The win over Clemson was a very good team win,” coach Chris Drake said. “They’re a very good and well-coached team, and compete hard. They actually beat us three years ago on a similar weekend so it was nice to get a win. Doubles played very well, and singles built on that lead. We did a good job of closing out.”
Following Clemson, the team lost to Penn State 2-4 on Sunday afternoon, going 1-2 on doubles and 2-3 on singles, with the sixth singles match canceled midway after Penn State secured its fourth point. For doubles, Sakinis and Tannenbaum were defeated 4-6, while Wall and Fliegner fell 3-6. Glasnovic and Schmidt recorded the lone doubles victory of the day with a final score of 6-3 against Penn State’s Leonard Stakhovsky and Constant De La Bassetiere.
In singles, Riccardi cruised to an impressive 6-2, 6-1 victory over No. 120 Aws Laaribi. Despite losing the first set 6-4, Fliegner proceeded to add another victory for the Big Green by winning the next two sets 6-3, 6-3 over No. 99 ranked Matt Barry. Tannenbaum dropped his match 6-7 and 4-6 against De La Bassetiere while Schmidt won the first set 6-4 before dropping the next two 3-6 and 6-7 against the Nittany Lions’ Ben Lieb. Wall’s game against Hanzlik was canceled after Penn State secured the team victory. The score at the time was 3-6, 6-4, 4-4.
“Penn State competed very well,” Drake said. “It really came down to a few points here and there. We had a some chances at doubles, and we had a few chances at one and three. I thought Penn State served very well. Our guys, as always, fought back, and it was a battle of all sorts, but couldn’t quite get over the hump.”
In addition, Drake also noted that the team would learn and improve from the close loss.
“We talked with the team about trying to extend our leads,” Drake said. “We want to make sure we’re working on serving well. If we can hold serve we can extend our lead. That’s something we can do a bit better. Especially with how tough our schedule is, we will probably see a lot of close matches. We want to stay calm and collected and be ready to execute on big points, which are all really important. We’re going to continue to work on those skills so we can execute our game in pressure situations.”
Highly ranked opponents combined with a high frequency of games made January a challenging month for the men’s tennis team. Drake emphasized that the team should not get too caught up in each individual game and instead should focus on the big picture.
“We have a really challenging schedule this year so we try not to get too up and down after any of the matches,” Drake said. “We just want to make sure we learn from the matches and make sure that we are improving.”
Tannenbaum noted that the team welcomes a demanding schedule.
“We still feel like we can win every match no matter if they are ranked or unranked,” Tannenbaum said. “We want to play a tough schedule and prove ourselves against tough competition and help us improve throughout the season and prepare us for Ivies.”
Next weekend, the team looks to compete in other challenging matchups against No. 35 Drake University and No. 37 Tulane University. In particular, Tulane’s team presents a daunting individual test for Sakinis who will face the No. 1 college tennis player, Dominik Koepfer.
“It’ll be cool to have the top ranked player in college tennis to come to our building, and it will certainly be a challenge for Dovydas,” Drake said.