The frequently ominous phrase, “what have you done lately?” has more of a hopeful ring to it if one asks the men’s tennis team, which has won three consecutive matches leading up to today’s match against Wooster.
“I definitely feel like we are getting hot at the right time.” said Ben Hurtuk, ’10, “We have always had confidence in our singles but it is now obvious that all the young players are starting to play doubles with the right mindset.”
After a rocky month of March in which they went 2–4, the Gators have righted the ship and now sit at 9–8 entering NCAC East Division play with wins against Oberlin, Wabash, and Ohio Wesleyan.
When faced with a 4–6 record to start the spring season, head coach Jared Luteran decided to jumble the lineup in hopes of finding the winning combinations after a come-from-behind 5–4 win against Wabash April 10. Despite surrendering the first four (three doubles and one singles) matches, the Gators rallied to win the five remaining singles matches for the unlikely victory.
“We changed all three of our doubles teams after we beat Wabash because we lost all of the doubles matches against them,” Luteran said. “We decided to go to the drawing board.”
His methods proved to be successful against Ohio Wesleyan last Friday, as Allegheny swept the Battling Bishops 9–0.
Luteran believes that the recent success can be attributed to new players becoming more comfortable playing collegiate tennis.
“We have a lot of guys that this is their first year playing college tennis, and I think it’s taken them awhile to adjust to the style, particularly in doubles,” he said. “It’s a whole different game playing at the college level than at a country club.”
Doubles has also emerged as the key for success, and Hurtuk explained that Luteran has made this priority clear.
“Coach has put a really strong emphasis that we need to come out in doubles focused so we can at least win two doubles matches every match,” he said. “We feel like if we get up at least 2–1 after doubles, we will never lose.”
The team now looks to feed off of the successful changes in the lineup as they take their first step towards their goal of second place in the NCAC today against Wooster. Being able to top Denison for the second spot behind a firmly established Kenyon squad would mark the best finish in the program’s history.
“If we could take second, and knock Denison out of there for the first time ever, that would be awesome,” Luteran said, “For me, that’s a realistic goal.”
Looking at the Wooster match, the Gators are hoping to avenge a 5–4 loss to the Fighting Scots.
“We need to come out with intensity,” said Hurtuk, “For all the returning players, [last year’s] match sticks out in our mind. We need to come out strong in doubles and have a lead going into singles.”
Today’s Gold Rush match starts at 4:30 p.m. at the Robinson Athletic Complex. The Gators will also face Oberlin at noon on Saturday.