Despite coming into the International Tennis Association Division III National Indoor Championships in Cleveland, Oh., ranked No. 4 nationally—their highest ranking ever—the Pomona-Pitzer men’s tennis team (3-3, 1-0 SCIAC) struggled to meet high expectations and went 1-2 overall on the weekend of Feb. 19.
The Sagehens began their first day of competition against Carnegie Mellon University, losing with a score of 5-4. While they were able to split the singles matches with the Tartans, the doubles competitions proved to be the difference. The Tartans took both the No. 1 and No. 3 doubles matches, giving them the win.
The Sagehens, however, recollected themselves after their loss and rallied to win against No. 10 ranked Kenyon College on the second day, with a score of 5-4.
The Hens took both the No. 1 and No. 2 doubles matches, with Graham Maassen PO ’17 and Jonathan Kim PO ‘16 dominating the court as well as Spencer Simonides PO ’17 and Marko Mandic PO ’18. The two teams fought hard to conquer their opponents 9-8 in tie-breakers. P-P also won the No. 2, No. 3, and No. 4 spots in singles competition.
In their final match, the Sagehens fell to Trinity College with a score of 6-3. While the Sagehens won the No. 1 and No. 2 doubles matches, they lost five of six singles matches.
Kalyan Chadalavada PO ’18 said the result was disappointing, but served as a valuable learning experience for the Sagehens.
“As far as the results on paper go, it seems like we did not quite perform well, as we got 6th place overall,” he said, “but the fight and fire all of us showed in every match was a great indicator of how this season is going to be for us. Our team’s biggest strength is our willingness to give it our all, and I think we proved that once again, that’s what we’ll be doing this year.”
After the weekend, the Sagehens rebounded with a home match against Bates College on Wednesday, Feb. 24. Although P-P started out slow, losing the No. 1 and No. 2 doubles matches, they rallied to win the No. 3 doubles match with the team of Antony Bello PO ’17 and Chadalavada securing an 8-6 victory. The rally continued into the singles matches, with wins in five of six matches giving them a 6-3 win.
“We started out a little sluggish in doubles, going down 1-2 after the first three doubles match,” he said. “There are no ‘bad’ teams that we will play this year, and Bates is no exception. We knew we had to earn every point and that’s exactly what we did in singles. It would have been easy to just accept that we were not playing well and let Bates roll over us in singles, but we bounced back and came out firing in singles.”
With the win over Bates College, the Sagehens improve to a record of 3-3 and return to action against University of Mary Washington March 3 at 7 p.m. Chadalavada hopes to ride the positive momentum and energy not just to a win against Mary Washington, but also to a trip for the national championship.
“No doubt in my mind we are going to be a top contender for the national championship. This team has the talent, but so do a lot of other teams in the country,” he said. “What sets us apart is our hard work and drive to play for our teammates. As individualized as tennis can be, we are a team and that’s what drives us every day: to fight for the person next to you.”