Both the men’s and women’s tennis teams will compete against squads from Villanova in the program’s last matches of the regular season today in the Washington area. The women’s team (11-4, 1-3 Big East) will play at the Arlington YMCA courts in Arlington, Va., while the men’s team (7-8, 1-1 Big East) will compete at the Georgetown Visitation Courts if weather permits.
The matches against Villanova will take place just a week after the women’s tennis team defeated the Richmond Spiders (12-9, 3-4 Atlantic Ten), which was its ninth win in its last 10 matchups.
“We all came into the match and everyone said ‘Yeah, Richmond is good, we’re all going to need to play well,’” sophomore transfer Sara Swift said. “We [have] struggled with the doubles point this year, and to come out and just to take the doubles point pretty, not easily, but we definitely did some work in doubles and transitioning to singles, we all just had a ton of momentum.”
The men’s team has not played since April 9, when it defeated Bryant (10-11, 3-0 Northeast Conference) in a 5-1 decision. The Hoyas came out strong in doubles play against the Bulldogs, notching close wins in the first and second doubles slots. Junior Jordan Portner and freshman Michael Chen won 6-6 (3-1), while junior Yannik Mahlangu and sophomore Peter Beatty won 7-6 (7-5).
Singles play saw senior Daniel Khanin lose in the first singles slot, but sophomore Marco Lam, Beatty, Chen and freshman Will Sharton all won their singles matches. Sharton went down 6-2 in the first set, but rebounded in the second set to win 6-2. The match concluded in a 10-point tiebreaker, which Sharton won 10-4.
“Both Will and Mike Chen have really practiced hard, played well. Mike has had great results this year which is very impressive … and Will has done great too, it’s never easy coming into college and playing, so I’ve been very impressed by both those guys,” Khanin said.
As the team has not played since the beginning of the month, the hiatus from play has allowed them to gain much-needed rest. However, at this point in the season, Head Coach Gordie Ernst said consistent competition is important to prepare the teams for Big East play.
“The guys need to play otherwise they seem to get a little stale. So it’s always 4-3, and we usually win 4-3 so I’m just hoping that that continues.”
While breaks from play can sometimes hurt teams, Khanin said he feels that the Hoyas are still motivated and energized enough to do well against the Wildcats.
“I don’t think it’s really going to hurt us in the end because we still practice and everyone’s really into playing big games and looking forward to those, motivation is high, and everyone was able to stay focused over the weekend,” Khanin said.
Although the men’s team has defeated Villanova (8-11) in each of the teams’ last five meetings, each match has been close. The Hoyas had a slow start in last year’s match against the Wildcats, losing all three doubles matches. However, Georgetown went on to win four of the six singles matches to capture a conference win.
“Last year we lost the doubles point and we were still able to win, and I think it’s just important for us to get that doubles point early and that kind of sets the tone for the rest of the match,” Khanin said. “If we can do that then I think the match will go our way pretty quickly.”
The match in the team’s 2013-14 campaign saw a more lopsided finish, as Georgetown won 6-1. However, in the previous two years, the Hoyas beat the Wildcats in 4-3 and 5-2 finishes.
“I think the guys will have a good test,” Ernst said. “We always play the guys like 4-3, it’s always tight, so … like St. John’s on the men’s side and DePaul on the women’s side, we shoot for them, they’re always shooting for us to knock us off. I’m just hoping our guys can respond.”
The women’s team will also compete with Villanova (11-8, 0-2 Big East), a team that it has been dominant over in recent years. Georgetown has a 7-1 record in the teams’ last eight meetings.
Ernst explained that regardless of Georgetown’s recent dominance over Villanova, today’s match will still be a tough one for the Hoyas. Last year, then-sophomore Victoire Saperstein won her first singles match 6-1, 6-1. Then-senior Sophie Panarese (COL ’15), then-freshmen Daphne de Chatellus and Casey Marx and then-sophomore Madeline Foley all won their matches in straight sets. Georgetown also notched the doubles point in that match.
“This is a good match for us before the Big East because we should win, but to play with pressure against a team that seems to be playing with some confidence themselves is a great way to get ready for Big East,” Ernst said. “I like our chances though because this group is so confident right now. They don’t care who we play right now, they just believe they can win, that’s a good way to be.”