The Georgetown men’s tennis team kicked off its season Saturday with a decisive 7-0 victory over the Howard Bisons.
Match toughness was a significant key for the Hoyas, who were understandably a bit rusty after an extended absence from collegiate competition. The Hoyas won all six of their singles matches, despite not playing their best tennis. Georgetown had to dig deeper than expected against a lower-ranked yet resilient Howard team. In doubles play, the Hoyas went 2-1, therefore securing the one doubles point.
“I started off slow but was able to feed off my teammates’ energy,” first-year Derek Raskopf, who played fourth singles, said. “I was both excited and anxious in my first college match, and we look forward to improving and reaching our top form for the Big East Tournament.”
Much of the Hoyas’ success came from the performances of sophomores Kieran Foster and Harry Yang. Foster earned a win over Howard’s Justin Cadeau in a routine 6-2, 6-2 victory, and Yang dominated his opponent, Pierce Westbrook, 6-1, 6-0 in under 45 minutes. Yang and senior doubles partner Luke Ross also bageled their opponents 6-0, which helped secure the doubles point.
Interim Head Coach Freddy Mesmer said he was optimistic about the possibility of a tennis season earlier in the year but began to have some doubts because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Mesmer was pleasantly surprised when he received word two weeks before spring break that there would be a condensed season.
“In the last few meetings I sat in on, the sentiment seemed to change and our hopes became real,” Mesmer said in an interview with The Hoya. “It took about a week to get all the players through administrative protocols, and then we were all set.”
All 10 team members were invited back on campus to practice and compete. However, four players opted out for the spring, leaving the team with six players, the minimum required for a full starting lineup.
The team is stoked to be out on the courts competing again and is hoping to get better with each match. Given the small roster and limited schedule, Mesmer does not have any major expectations for this upcoming season, although the team will set its sights on winning its first Big East Tournament title since 1989.
Many of the players on the team have not competed in over a year and are trying to regain their rhythm and confidence. In practice, Mesmer said he is mainly focused on breeding competition.
“Our guys definitely shook off some early-season nerves in the match, which was fully understandable,” Mesmer said. “By playing lots of practice sets and point play in practice, we can feel more comfortable and prepared for matches. We have control over our effort level and how hard we compete, and I am proud of the boys for the grit they displayed on Saturday.”
Mesmer, who previously served as the team’s assistant coach, is filling in as interim head coach this season after former Head Coach Courtney Dolehide stepped down in 2020. Georgetown has also brought in a new volunteer assistant coach for this season, Michael Retta. Retta, who played NCAA Division I tennis at Vanderbilt University, has traveled with some of the world’s best players on the Association of Tennis Professionals Challenger Tour. He brings extensive coaching experience to the Hoyas.
The Hoyas will travel to Villanova on April 17 and hope to build on their early momentum against a higher-ranked Villanova team. Mesmer said he expects the singles lineup to stay the same, but he might mix up the doubles pairings.