By: Alban Barker
On Friday, Feb. 18, the UMW men’s tennis team defeated Stevens Institute of Technology with a final score of 9-0, giving the Eagles a blowout win at home to start their spring season.
The day started with the doubles matches, in which the Eagles won all three, allowing them to maintain a strong lead throughout the day. Following the doubles matches, the Eagles won all six singles matches, giving them the win over Stevens Institute.
The final match of the day was between UMW’s Peter Leese, a sophomore accounting major, and Stevens Institute’s Vivek Harinarayan. The match ended with a final score of 6-3 in the first set, 4-6 in the second and 10-7 in the final set, giving Leese the win.
“My match against Harinarayan today was a tough match from start to finish,” said Leese. “I don’t think I necessarily played my best tennis today against him, but I am happy that I ended up winning the match. Overall, this match was a good win for me. … The match went how I expected; I knew this was going to be a tough match. The Stevens team has a lot of talented players, and our team knew we needed to play good tennis to win the match.”
Before his matches, Rishi Charan Shankar, a sophomore computer science major, was excited to start a more normal season.
“I am very excited for this match because last year we got a makeshift season, and I’m looking forward to playing new teams such as Stevens because I have never played them before,” he said. “I am really looking forward to the competition and am excited for what’s in store for our team this weekend.”
Charan Shankar won both of his matches. In doubles, he played aside Nick Spera and Charan Shankar and Spera won 8-1.
“I think I played well today, and that helped me out by giving me more games where I could play a little looser knowing that I had a big enough lead,” said Charan Shankar. “My opponent was solid and, overall, I felt like it was a great day for both me and the team.”
Spring season matches are between only two teams, while the fall season is mostly invitational tournaments where individual players from top teams compete.
“At the end of the day, we just need to show up and play our best,” said Foster Evans, a freshman chemistry major. “We know what we are capable of and got to stay locked in. Drew Watson especially is constantly locked in. He definitely sets the bar high for everyone and sets the tone as soon as we start.”
Drew Watson, a junior business administration major, won his game in doubles alongside Moses Hutchison 8-1, and Watson won his singles match with a score of 7-5 in the first set and 6-2 in the second.
“We played them my freshman year, so I knew they would have a lot of talent and that we couldn’t take them lightly,” said Watson. “My match against Kulakarni was tough. He was aggressive and wasn’t afraid to take chances. It was a good test at the beginning of the season to see where I’m at mentally and physically. After seeing his game in doubles, I had an idea of his strengths and weaknesses, which I could use to my advantage for my singles match.”
The tennis team has a strong group of spectators that attend many of the matches.
Bob Rycroft, a UMW professor of economics and faculty liaison for the men’s tennis team, enjoys watching the team play.
“I wanted to support the team,” he said. “I just enjoy watching them play. I’m extremely impressed by the speed of the game and the talent they show. It far exceeds what I could have even dreamed of when I played tennis.”
The Eagles will be playing at Chapman University in Orange County, Calif. in an away match on Sunday, Feb. 27. The team’s next match at home will be against Washington College on Sunday, March 13.