Men’s tennis finishes season with tournament loss to Michigan

by Kaitlyn Lees and Kirby Phares | 5/6/19 2:05am

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The doubles team of Charlie Broom ’20 and David Horneffer ’20 will compete in the NCAA doubles tournament later this month.

by Natalie Dameron / The Dartmouth Staff

The No. 39 men’s tennis team’s season came to a close this Friday in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Dartmouth competed against No. 20 University of Michigan in Waco, TX, losing 4-2. The Big Green finished its 2018-19 season 15-9 in a tie for fourth place in the Ivy League. 

The night began with significant victories for Dartmouth in the doubles portion of the match. Charlie Broom ’20 and David Horneffer ’20 won the first match 6-3. Going into the tournament, the Broom and Horneffer pairing was ranked No. 20 in the nation. According to Horneffer, he and Broom are playing together in doubles for the second year and have taken a more disciplined approach this season — which paid off in improved consistency on the court. To give the Dartmouth men’s team the lead before heading into singles, Dan Martin ’21 and John Speicher ’21 also came up with a 6-4 win over Michigan’s Brown and Tishman. 

Dartmouth suffered four losses in singles to move Michigan ahead and surrender the win, but Sid Chari ’22 had a strong outing on his court, defeating Connor Johnston 7-5, 6-1. Ranked No. 69 in singles in the country, Broom took his match to three sets before falling 6-2, 3-6, 6-3. Playing in the No. 6 position, Casey Ross ’21 also kept his match close before his opponent ultimately clinched the point in the third set. 

Despite the Big Green not advancing into the next round of the NCAA tournament, the team had finished the regular season strong with a home win against Harvard University last Saturday. Last year, Dartmouth won a share of the Ivy League title for the first time since 1997, but the story this season was different. 

After a strong spring break performance in which the Big Green went 4-0 and won the Rice Invitational, Ivy League play started slow with a loss against Princeton University before the team bounced back with three straight wins against the University of Pennsylvania, Brown University and Yale University. The week before the Harvard match, the team lost to No. 16 Columbia University and dropped a close match to unranked Cornell University. After these losses, the Big Green knew the season was on the line going into the match against Harvard. 

“If we [won], we were in; if we lost, we were out,” said Peter Conklin ’21. “It was a little bit of pressure, but all the guys on our team thrive in that situation.” 

Horneffer echoed Conklin’s sentiment.

“We tried to treat it as another match and not press too much,” he said. 

It was this determination and resilience that carried the Big Green throughout the season and gave it the chance to compete in the tournament. During the season, Dartmouth’s doubles teams contributed crucial victories for the team’s success. The Harvard game was no different, with Conklin and Ross putting the Big Green ahead going into singles. In singles, Broom and Chari won 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 and 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 in their respective matches. The win was extra sweet, as Harvard was the only Ivy League loss for the Big Green during last spring’s championship season. 

Despite losing in the first round of the NCAA tournament like last year, according to Horneffer, the team saw improvement in its play since its 2018 showing — and with more and more exposure to these big time games, the Big Green can use its experiences to build for next year. Horneffer said the team approached NCAA Regionals this year with a more confident and relaxed mindset after last year’s matchup against the University of Oregon. 

Without any players graduating, Dartmouth’s cohort of strong players will move into the 2019-20 season with more confidence and skill. 

“They have learned from the last couple of years what it really takes to be that next level team, and we hope that the experience and what we have learned will turn into action,” said head coach Chris Drake.  

Many individuals on the Dartmouth men’s tennis team had great success this season. In his freshman season, Chari became a prominent figure in Dartmouth’s singles play, making him an exciting prospect for next season. In the Ivy League, Broom, Horneffer and Martin were named First-Team All-Ivy. Broom received the accolade for both singles and doubles, which he was also honored with last year. Broom’s partner, Horneffer, was named for his doubles performance, also for the second consecutive year. Martin, who was Second-Team last year, improved to First-Team All-Ivy in singles this year. 

Despite the NCAA tournament coming to an early end for the Big Green, the season is not over for Broom and Horneffer, who will return to action at the NCAA doubles tournament later this month. As one of the best doubles teams in the country, the pair automatically qualified and is the first Dartmouth doubles team since 1976 to accomplish this feat. The tournament will take place May 20-25 in Orlando, FL.