Tennis is not commonly thought of as a team sport, but last weekend, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Stags (2-0, 0-0 SCIAC) made a case to change the script. In their first two matchups of the season against the Brandeis University Judges (3-2) and the Bates College Bobcats (0-2), the men won 12 of 18 matches overall and 10 of 12 singles matches.
The first match of the day set a winning tone, with the doubles team of Freddie Simental CM ’19 and Jake Williams HM ’20 taking down the Bates team of Josh Leiner and Josh Quijano 9-7. However, this was the first of only two doubles matches won by CMS.
“I was a little disappointed with our doubles play which could be a little sharper, but I think we did all the right things, we just didn’t execute really well,” Head coach Paul Settles said. “We tried some teams out that we hadn’t been practicing a lot with, so it was kind of a new look for us.”
Indeed, the singles matches were where the Stags dominated. They won all six of their matches against Bates and won four of six against Brandeis. Even more impressively, four first-years made their collegiate debuts and all won their respective matches.
“I was particularly impressed with the way the freshmen performed in their first college tennis matches,” said senior co-captain Daniel Morkovine CM ’17, who came back to win both of his singles matches after two 8-6 losses in doubles. “I believe that two different freshmen clinched the matches and overall they played extremely well and with a lot of confidence, which is always difficult to do on the first day of a college career.”
Settles stressed that he wasn’t very concerned about the doubles losses because it was just a trial run for some of the doubles pairs, some of whom might not play together again for the rest of the season.
“We had two really established teams from the fall who were really successful, Daniel Morkovine and Julian Gordy, and Glenn Hull and Nico Perodi,” he said. They’ll be back together next weekend.”
Both Morkovine and Settles noted that tennis is much more of a team effort than people like to give it credit for. Individual results are effectively meaningless alone, as the team must win a majority of the combined nine doubles and singles matches to get a win.
“Every day we are practicing together on court and hanging out off court and the biggest thing is that everyone has the same goal: to make everyone around themselves better, and for the team to win,” Morkovine said.
According to Settles, this team aspect is where the key to collegiate success lies.
“It’s really important for each of those matches to ‘stay on their court’ and stay focused, and not really be impacted too much by what’s around them,” he said. “And that’s the really interesting dynamic of a college tennis match, is that momentum can shift so radically just by what happens on another court.”
In addition to adding some outstanding first-years on the team this season, Morkovine added that senior leadership will play a crucial role in the coming weeks, on and off the court.
The Stags will head to La Jolla this week to participate in the annual Pacific Coast Men’s Doubles Championship and will kick off conference play at home against California Institute of Technology at 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 4.