Gators crush Battling Bishops, go out with a win

Cho (Photo courtesy Allegheny Athletics)
Salazar (Photo courtesy Allegheny Athletics)

For the first time in his four year campaign with the Allegheny Tennis team, David Salazar II, ’22, has made it to the NCAC Conference tournament. He was doubled up alongside Wanjoon Cho, ‘22, for what will be the final collegiate match of their careers.
The two kicked off day two of play standing in opposition to Ohio Wesleyan. After dropping their first match facing off against the 18th ranked Denison Big Red, the Gators came out with a vengeance Saturday morning as they walloped the Battling Bishops all the way back to Columbus, Ohio, demolishing them by a team score of five to nothing.
In their doubles match, Salazar and Cho stepped onto the court one final time, a moment they will never forget.
“You kinda just look around, and everyone tells you it’s gonna be a sad day but you’re never fully prepared,” Salazar said. “Taking in the atmosphere … and looking at everything one last time from the perspective of being a college athlete, it hits you.”
It was a long journey throughout Salazar’s tenure at Allegheny, bouncing between coaches and teammates, and being unable to play past the regular season. He understood what this weekend would mean to him and he took full advantage of the moment.
Salazar finished the season with an eight and eight record in doubles and a one and one record in singles. He got hot toward the end of the season, and won his last six out of nine games, saving one of his best performances for his last game in a Gators uniform.
“I feel like I performed my best,” Salazar said. “You play up and you let loose, and it felt good to be out there with one of my co-captains. We grew to be very close.”
When he paired up with Cho during the end of his junior campaign, the two connected instantly and formed a great relationship. Being a very passionate player, Cho impressed Salazar with his energy and leadership to push others more.
“In a simple sentence, that kid’s a baller,” Salazar said.
Cho has been a consistent asset for the team since day one, not only competing in doubles matches with Salazar but also singles matches throughout the entirety of the season. Cho boasted a record of eight and seven, while during his singles matches he finished four and nine. Under the reign of first year head coach David Hayden, the two have made big strides in their leadership and game.
With a number of seniors leaving the team, Coach Hayden explained they had a dynamic impact on the blue and gold dynasty.
“We are losing 3 captains who have made great contributions to the program and will leave some big shoes to fill,” Hayden wrote in an email to The Campus.
With the Gators not tallying a single win last season, the team put in a tremendous amount of work during the offseason, spending time in both the weight room and the practice courts. The team went to work six days a week, putting an emphasis on their situational and strategic play.
Salazar claimed the team was looking to play more aggressively, in order to set up points well enough to close out points.
They saw immediate change after taking down their first opponent of the 2022 season, terminating Washington and Jefferson by a score of nine to zero.
Despite the win, the Gators showed inconsistencies in the beginning of the season, when they dropped four out of five games after the opening day win. However, they bounced back and played their best tennis near the season’s end, winning the last four out of five to close out the year.
Hayden expects the team to continue growing and is confident in the returning players, claiming there are leaders in the group that will step up to the challenge. This does not just include the upperclassmen, as Hayden also mentioned the talented group of guys arriving at Allegheny for their first time in the fall.
“Next year we will return a talented group of players and have had a successful recruiting season and will add several key pieces to the mix,” Hayden wrote.
Even though his collegiate career came to an end on Saturday, Salazar has no plans to hang up to racket just yet. Although the picture isn not clear, he hopes to stay in the game through either playing in tournaments, possibly picking up a part time coaching job, or joining a men’s league in addition to attending physical therapy school in the summer.
“I can go out and hit with a couple of guys my age on the weekend,” Salazar said with a smile on his face.
The future is bright for the Gators, both leaving and returning. For Salazar, he is not just leaving the school, but also leaving his mark and solidifying his legacy as he took off his blue and gold uniform one last time.