Men’s tennis win final match against Behrend

The men’s tennis team wrapped up their fall season — three non-conference dual matches and a pair of tournaments — on Oct. 6 with a 9-0 victory over Penn State Behrend. The win comes on the heels of strong performances in dual matches against other schools, and success for a pair of Gators sent to the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s Division III Men’s Central Regional Championship in September.

Most athletics schedules at Allegheny are contained to a single semester, or flow from the end of the fall semester to the beginning of the spring semester for a winter season, with conference play sandwiched between contests with non-conference schools.

The tennis team, however, is unique, as they play additional matches far removed from their conference schedule. The men’s squad played matches in the fall as preparation for spring matches in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference, a setup that Head Coach Dave Hayden said gives him a better understanding of where the team stands.

“It allows you to kind of evaluate (first-year players), get a feel for how they may be able to contribute in the spring,” Hayden said.

Hayden said that he is “super excited” about the members of his team, particularly with a strong recruiting class of first-years.

“We graduated four seniors last year, so that was a big loss,” Hayden said. “They all played significant roles in the lineup. But this year, we had a good recruiting class plus the returning players — almost everyone to a T is better than they were last year — so they took their summers and really worked hard on their games. I really like the position we’re in right now with the men’s team.”

While the men’s team is in a strong position, the women’s team has been nothing but dominant. After placing first in the PAC’s pre-season poll, the squad went undefeated, outscoring their opponents 103-5 with in a perfect 12-0 season.

Hayden is no stranger to PAC success. He joined Allegheny in 2021 after six years at Westminster College, where he coached the women’s tennis squad to two National Championship appearances and two PAC titles.

“We’re very optimistic about how the season will go,” Hayden said. “I used to coach in the PAC, so I know a lot of the coaches and some of the players. We’re very excited about the men’s prospects in the spring as well.”

Among Hayden’s athletes is Anton Hedlund, ’25, currently ranked 23rd in the ITA’s Central region in the singles division.

“I think it’s been about 15 years or so since anybody from Allegheny was regionally ranked,” Hayden said. “That’s based off of his freshman year. He’s off to a great start.”

Hedlund said that the early matches allow for a productive offseason in the late fall and winter.

“We’ve learned some things in the fall that we’d like to continue working on during the fall, and then spring season should be a good season,” Hedlund said. “If we do the right amount of work in the offseason, we have a good chance of doing well in the PAC, which I’m super grateful for.”

Late last month, Hedlund and Ethan Carr, ’26, made the 600 mile trip to the ITA’s Division III Central Regional Championship, hosted at Washington University in St. Louis. Playing doubles, the pair of Gators lost their first-round match-up against a team from Case Western Reserve University that had played in the NCAA Division III Championships last year.

However, Hedlund and Carr came back and won the regional consolation bracket for the tournament.

“The competition at ITA is very tough,” Hedlund said. “It’s all the schools from the region, and this region is really tough.”

ITA’s Central Region includes the University of Chicago — last year’s NCAA Division III Champions — and CWRU,who lost to UChicago in the final.
Hedlund — an international student from Sweden — is attending Allegheny in part to play tennis.

“If you want to pursue tennis after high school (in Sweden), you have to go with club sports and it’s more individual-based,” Hedlund said. “But here in college, you play as a team, you travel as a team, and the scoring is based off the team, and I really like that. I really like being part of a bigger group, especially when we have such a good group of players, as we do right now.”

This enjoyment of the sport — combined with the skill of his teammates — is what makes Hedlund excited to take on the PAC.
“Overall, it’s a very good team,” Hedlund said. “There’s a good chemistry between the boys, and we always have a good time when we’re playing, and it’s going to be fun to run through the season with them.”

The men’s tennis squad will play their next match on Feb. 19, when they will travel to Cleveland to take on the CWRU Spartans.