The Georgetown men’s tennis team traveled to Pennsylvania this weekend hoping to pick up its first win of the season. But three matches later, the Hoyas were still winless after coming out on the wrong end of a pair of 4-3 decisions at Lehigh and Temple and a 6-1 drubbing at Stetson.
“It’s really heartbreaking after all that hard work,” Head Coach Gordie Ernst said. “When you lose that close, it’s even more disappointing. It stings just a little more.”
In its first of two matches Saturday, Georgetown fell, 4-3, in a close fight to Lehigh. The match started off auspiciously for the Blue and Gray as they swept all three doubles matches, but the Mountain Hawks rallied in singles competition. Lehigh’s comeback started when Georgetown junior Rafael Notario lost, 7-5, 7-5, at No. 6 singles; the Mountain Hawks then followed up with wins at first and fourth singles to take a 3-1 advantage.
But the Hoyas did not go quietly. Sophomore Charlie Caris and junior Andrew Bruhn staved off defeat by winning their matches at No. 3 and No. 2 singles, respectively.
Tied at 3-3, the match came down to Georgetown freshman Casey Distaso at the No. 5 singles spot. Distaso fought hard but ultimately came up short in two quick sets, falling to Lehigh junior Ryan Krueger, 7-6, 6-4.
“As a freshman, this was Casey’s education and wake-up call to playing in crucial situations,” Ernst said. “Seldom does a freshman in this spot win, but it is something you have to go through to get tougher.”
Following the close loss to Lehigh, Georgetown took on Stetson, who had beaten Lehigh and Monmouth on Friday. The undefeated Hatters, composed of several strong foreign players, continued their winning streak by nearly sweeping the Blue and Gray in a 6-1 victory.
“Stetson crushed everyone this weekend, but we went toe to toe with them,” Ernst said. “That tells us a lot about our guys. We are maturing and growing up.”
On Sunday, the Hoyas traveled to Philadelphia to face Temple. In another disappointing 4-3 loss, Georgetown rallied from an early 2-0 deficit to pull ahead of the Owls, 3-2, before dropping the final two matchups.
With another chance to clinch a match for the Hoyas, Distaso, playing at fifth singles again, fell 6-3, 6-3. Temple junior Dmitry Vizhunov then knocked off Georgetown junior Brian Ward, 6-2, 6-2, at No. 4 singles to win the match for the Owls.
Ernst sees these difficult February matches as learning experiences that will make his team tougher for the Big East tournament.
“It’s a loss, but it’s something we can learn from. When I coached at Penn, I used to load up on the cupcake teams in the beginning to build confidence. But as soon as we played the Ivies we were blown away,” Ernst said. “I like to take the tougher route in the beginning [now] because if we lose, it’s all about what we learn and how we respond.”
The Hoyas return to action in two weeks to play Emory and Bucknell. Right now, Ernst plans to give his players a couple of days off to recover from the long weekend.
“This is a good time to catch up,” Ernst said. “We do not have a match for a while, and I’m confident we will get a win.”