The Pomona-Pitzer men’s tennis team (2-0)
is off to a smashing start after beating Occidental College 9-0 at home and
Chapman University 8-1 on the road Feb. 7. From first-years to seniors,
every member of the team came out strongly to set a positive tone for the weeks ahead. The
two matches were an opportunity for the team to showcase its depth: 12 of the
17 men on the roster played in matches against either Occidental or Chapman.
The team swept Occidental, winning three consecutive doubles matches and six singles matches. Jake
Yasgoor PZ ’17 won a close 6-2, 7-5 match at No. 1 singles, then teamed up with
Jonathan Kim PZ ’16 for a 9-7 win at No. 1 doubles. Kim also won his No. 2
singles match 6-4, 6-2. Another highlight for the P-P team was Marko
Mandic PO ’18, who swept his doubles match 8-0 with teammate Thomas Low PO ’16
before decisively winning his No. 5 singles match 6-1, 6-1.
Mandic was elated about the wins, but he stressed the importance of keeping the rest of the season in sight.
“We might have come off a little bit
flat in the first match,” Mandic said. “But nonetheless, we won pretty easily,
and we hope to keep moving forward.”
The team prevailed once again against
Chapman, with Connor Hudson PO ’15 leading the way. Hudson played at No. 1
singles and doubles, winning his singles match 4-6, 6-3, 10-3 and teaming up
with Kalyan Chadavalada PO ’18 for an 8-2 win in doubles. The senior is expected to
play a large leadership role this season; in addition to playing at the No. 1
singles spot, he and Chadavalada are ranked No. 2 nationally heading into the
spring season after reaching the finals at the ITA Small College nationals in
Head coach Steve Bickham is relying on such senior wisdom and experience for leadership this season.
“Our seniors are our
leaders,” he said. “[They] will contribute in many ways, but most
importantly in pushing the other guys to get better.”
This successful start to the season is
setting the Sagehens up for success later on. The team this year, which includes four first-years, was
constructed with the intention of adding depth and breadth to the roster.
“I think we’re going to have a good season,
primarily because we have a really big team,” Mandic said. “We took a look at
what the best teams in Division III were doing. The team that won last year
had a really big team, and they were subbing out players in every match, so
that’s something we’re trying to incorporate.”
Bickham echoed these thoughts.
“I am hopeful for
a good season with improvement in our national standing,” he said. “We have
plenty of depth, which will help if we have any injuries, and the team is
working very hard to improve.”
The Sagehens hope to build on their success when they take on the Bates College Bobcats (0-0) Feb. 18 at home and travel to face the California Lutheran University Kingsmen (1-1) Feb. 22.