After a disappointing 4-5 loss to SCIAC rival Cal Lutheran, the Pomona-Pitzer men’s tennis team bounced back just minutes later, beating Occidental 7-2 to even their conference record at 1-1. The Sagehens rode on the back of number two singles player Chris Weichert PZ ’14 as he won each of his four matches.
In the first part of their doubleheader, the Sagehens lost a tight match against Cal Lu, 4-5. The Sagehens won two doubles matches while Weichert and Connor Hudson PO ’15 won their singles matches, which meant that the match came down to the number six singles match. Kevin Prescott PO ’13 had been bumped up to the sixth slot due to the poor health of Uday Singh PO ’12 and put on a strong performance before falling in three sets.
“They’re a good team and were playing good tennis,” Coach Ben Belletto said. “We had match points in one doubles match. We win that, and we win the match. We didn’t play our best tennis.”
Barely half an hour later, the Sagehens were back on the court against Occidental. Fatigue proved not to be an issue as the Sagehens dropped only two singles matches and swept Oxy in doubles. The split gave the Sagehens a record of 2-4 on the year, 1-1 in SCIAC.
“Occidental’s an improving program,” Belletto said. “We came out and played some very tough matches on 25 minutes’ rest after a heartbreaking loss, so I thought our team was pretty strong to go out and shut the door on them like that.”
The SCIAC doubleheader complemented the Sagehen’s earlier matches this season against top-flight competition. At the ITA Indoor Nationals in Minnesota two weeks ago, they played Kenyon, Gustavus Adolphus and Trinity, all major DIII competitors.
The Sagehens had been looking forward to facing Kenyon ever since they lost a tight match to them last year but were unable to even the score, losing 6-3 to the then-seventh-ranked Lords in each squad’s first match at the ITA Nationals. The Sagehens got off to a good start, winning two of their three doubles matches. However, Hudon’s straight-sets win over Austin Griffin was the only singles win for the Sagehens, although Wiechert and Max Sabel PO ’13 both took their opponents to the brink before losing 6-3 in the third set.
The Sagehens then overcame a quick turnaround time to beat host Gustavus Adolphus 6-3. Top singles player Tommy Meyer PO ’12 dropped only three games en route to a straight-sets victory as the Sagehens won five of six singles matches. Sabel and Frankie Allinson PO ’13 and Meyer and Singh both racked up solid doubles wins.
The Sagehens finished up the tournament with a 3-6 loss to tenth-ranked Trinity College. Allison and Sabel gave the Sagehens their lone doubles win, but the Sagehens rebounded with authoritative wins by Meyer and Weichert, giving them a 3-2 advantage going into the last three singles matches. However, Trinity finished strong, winning all three matches (each in straight sets) to take the victory. The loss meant that the Sagehens finished sixth out of eight teams in the tournament.
“I thought we did really well in a couple situations; we faced three very good teams within 24 hours,” said Belletto. “We could’ve played better. We lost two heartbreaking matches, so it’s hard to feel good about that, but we also showed what we could do and learned what we needed to work on.”
The tennis team’s difficult schedule continues this weekend as they play Swarthmore College today and then have a rematch with Trinity College tomorrow. Their packed schedule is “just reality,” said Belletto, but it will be fun to watch them compete against the best in the weeks to come.