The men’s and women’s tennis teams came out 9–0 and 8–1, respectively, against Washington & Jefferson College on Saturday, April 8.
“It was our first match against one of the teams in the [President’s Athletic Conference]. We’ve been having a bunch of tough matches recently, so it was good to play a team that helped boost our morale,” said Niall Kneerim, ’18. “I think everybody was in a strong mindset when we went in as well. Having been down recently, it was good to have a solid win.”
Kneerim played second doubles with Colton Johnson Taylor, ’19, winning 8–6 in addition to coming out with a 8–2 win in fifth singles.
“We played some good tennis. We came off a tough loss on Friday, and our players bounced back really well,” said Head Coach Jared Luteran. “Washington & Jefferson is one of the best teams in the PAC conference, and that conference is very different than ours when it comes to tennis. Our conference is one of the toughest Division III conferences in the country, so it was good for us to play a team like that after some tough losses and realize how good we actually are.”
Heidi Mueller, ’19, said the team faces good competitors in the NCAC but seeing how they compete with teams outside the conference was a confidence boost.
“It was good to show that we have the abilities and talents to take on good teams,” Mueller said. “We’ve had some tough losses in the past weekends, but this one was a big win for us and we can use that as a confidence booster to show that we have the talent to make some good wins in our coming matches.”
Mueller said the way the team approached the Washington & Jefferson matches was different than an NCAC match.
“A lot of their players weren’t up to the level that we play in our normal conference, so we had to figure out how to be more of an offensive player and not let you fall to their level. You have to stay at your ability and make sure to hit the right strokes and not let yourself fall,” Mueller said.
Even with a win on both the men’s and women’s sides, the teams faced challenges through their matches.
“It’s always tough to play on a Sunday when you drive there in the van and players are tired and thinking about what homework they have to do. You have to get out of the van and jump onto the courts and start playing, so we all looked a little sluggish at the beginning, but they quickly turned things around and started playing well,” Luteran said.
Kneerim said the men’s team struggled to come out with energy in doubles.
“All the matches went to 8–5 or 8–6, so we had some close matches in doubles, but we were able to pull through there and transition those wins into singles” Kneerim said.
Looking ahead, Kneerim and Luteran said the teams have been working on increasing energy levels in matches and that they want to improve that in the remaining matches.
“I’d like to see them play doubles with a lot more energy. I’d like to see them pick off more balls at the net, so I’d like to see the net person be more aggressive, and overall, play smarter tennis and play with confidence,” Luteran said.
Kneerim said he is looking forward to having the chance to play tennis outdoors for the rest of the season.
“We’ve got a great team, so I’m just looking forward to battling with my teammates and finishing off the year strong,” Kneerim said.
The teams will face The College of Wooster at 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 15, at the Robertson Athletic Complex.