The Pomona-Pitzer men’s tennis team (9-4) went 2-1 at the Stag-Hen Invitational March 12 and 13 in Claremont, overcoming a tough loss to a skilled Washington University in St. Louis (6-5) team to bounce back and defeat Case Western Reserve (7-7) and Trinity University (5-10).
WashU entered the match ranked seventh in the nation, and proved to be a tough opponent for the Sagehens, beating them 6-3. WashU took all three doubles matches as well as three of the singles matches. For the Sagehens, Jed Kronenberg PO ’21 got the win at No. 1, while Avery Bicks PO ’20 and Sam Malech PZ ’18 earned victories at No. 3 and No. 5, respectively.
Later in the day in their matchup against Case Western, who entered the match ranked 25th in the country, P-P fared much better, winning 6-3. The Sagehens won two of the doubles matches, including first doubles, where Bicks and Octave Bellet PZ ’20 picked up their first victory of the year in the top spot with an 8-2 win.
“It was an awesome feeling to get the win at one doubles,” Bicks said. “I looked up a lot to the guys who played one last year, so I'm trying my best to continue where they left off. Hopefully we can use this momentum to win some of the tough matches coming up.”
In singles, Kronenberg picked up his second victory at No. 1, while Malech got his second win of the day, this time at No. 5. The Sagehens also gained wins at No. 3 and No. 6, thanks to Bellet and Jacob Schoenherr PZ ’19.
The Sagehens didn’t slow down on day two, taking care of business against Trinity with a dominant 8-1 victory. After picking up doubles wins at second and third, the Sagehens didn’t drop a single set on their way to sweeping through the singles matches.
“It's definitely a lot easier to go out there and compete when your teammates are finding so much success,” Bicks said. “This definitely pushes me to keep improving and try and emulate my teammates' performances.”
The Sagehens remain at No. 12 in the nation after the weekend, and got a taste of some top-level competition. WashU was the highest ranked team they had faced all season, and although they lost, getting three points on the board was a good sign.
“It's really fun playing top competition whenever, but especially this year we've had really competitive matches against top teams and it's been amazing to see us do so well,” Kronenberg said. “Hopefully we can beat a top-10 team in the next few weeks to qualify for the NCAA tournament.”
The weekend marked the season’s halfway point, and the Sagehens now enter a tough stretch in which five of their next eight opponents are currently ranked nationally. While they are looking forward to those matches, they are being careful to not discount any opponents.
“I think we've been approaching every match the same, no matter what we have to be our best and compete our hardest,” Kronenberg said. “Even if we play teams ranked below us we have to show up and bring our best.”
The Sagehens will next take the court March 24 against California Lutheran University (2-8) and the University of California, Santa Cruz (2-4).