After a string of successes against highly ranked opponents, including their first ever win against Gustavus Adolphus, the Pomona-Pitzer men’s tennis team approached their match against the nationally ranked CMS Stags with confidence. It was, after all, just another SCIAC game.
But in the end, the fifth-ranked Stags didn’t let the No. 22 Hens even get close, sweeping P-P 9-0.
“[We] thought we had a legitimate chance to beat CMS. We definitely have the talent and ability to beat them if we play well,” Max Sabel PI ’13 said.
The Hens have been strong so far this season, and entered spring break with an 8-1 record. However, the Hens lost four straight during the break (including a tournament in Santa Cruz).The losses came against some of the top teams from across the country, including Trinity and Middlebury, and the experience helped the Hens toughen themselves for SCIAC play.
After defeating Gustavus Adolphus, P-P defeated Caltech for its first SCIAC win since the beginning of the season, before falling to CMS.
This season’s record (11-7, 3-2 SCIAC) is the best that Coach Ben Belleto has had since he began coaching the Hens in 2003.
The team has found its success by focusing on its doubles play.
According to Sabel, the team “prides itself on being one of the best doubles programs in the country, so coming out strong in doubles is a big deal.”
When the doubles pairs do not produce points, however, the team struggles, as exemplified by Saturday’s loss. Because doubles leads off the competition, single players are placed under enormous strain when doubles pairs cannot pull off a point.
Though the Hens lost all matches, most were competitive and went the full three sets, showing that either team could win and that both teams were closely matched.Hopefully the Hens can learn from this loss to beat CMS in the future.
The P-P versus CMS matches are always more intense than usual due to the rivalry between the two schools.
Top Sagehen singles player Tommy Meyer PO ’12 and top Stags singles player Robbie Erani CM ’12 have been competing against each other since they started playing for their respective teams last year.This fall, Erani beat Meyer at the Western Region fall tournament. Meyer won last season’s regular season match, but Erani took the match in the SCIAC playoffs.This year Erani is ranked third nationally, while Meyer sits at number 21.
Last Saturday’s match between the two rivals was again a close one. After finishing the second set tied at one, Erani and Meyer played a tie-breaker third set which Erani won, giving him the win 6-7, 7-6, 10-7.
Frankie Allinson PO ’13 also played a strong singles match that went to a tiebreaking third set.P-P’s number-three singles player, like Meyer, played competitively and had a good chance to win, but could not quite go the distance.
The number-two doubles team of Meyer and Alex Groth PO ’12 led their match against CMS most of the way, but lost on account of a few key errors.However, Meyer noted that they “know what to do next time [they] face CMS.”
The Sagehens now have the motivation to build on their loss against CMS and power through the rest of the season into SCIACs and nationals.
This year’s team is fairly young—most players are freshmen and sophomores—so as the Sagehens become better prepared and gain more experience, they should be a solid force in SCIAC for the next few years.