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The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
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Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

Tennis beats Division II team in split

Caleb Kumar ’16 serves during practice this week. Photo by Chris Lee

On Sunday, men’s tennis had their first split-squad match of the season. The top three doubles teams and four of the top six singles players went on the road to Minnesota and lost 5-4 against University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire. The rest of the team stayed home and came from behind to beat NCAA Division II team Truman State University 6-3.

Caleb Kumar '16 serves during practice this week.  Photo by Chris Lee
Caleb Kumar ’16 serves during practice this week.
Photo by Chris Lee

The squad that traveled to Minnesota with Head Coach Andy Hamilton ’85 lost not because they were outperformed, but because they were not able to maintain the consistency they needed.

  “We were unable to keep up the high level of play and were inconsistent through out the match,” Hamilton said. “Our players gave the other team the victory.”

However, Hamilton had only positive things to say about the team’s No. 1 and 2 doubles teams. Elliott Czarnecki ’15 and Tommy Pitcher ’17 won 8-6 at No. 1 doubles and Emilio Gomez ’15 and Tracy Johnson ’16 won 8-4 at No. 2 doubles.

“I am very pleased with our No. 1 doubles Elliott Czarnecki and Tommy Pitcher and our undefeated No. 2 doubles Emilio Gomez and Tracy Johnson,” Hamilton said.

When asked about his undefeated run, Gomez stated it is not something he actively dwells on.

“Tracy and I try not to think about it, all that matters to us is that the team performs well,” Gomez said.

Gomez, who has been performing well throughout the season, gave all the credit to his longtime doubles partner Johnson describing him as the “anchor” of the two. 

In the home match versus Truman State, the Pioneers got off to a rough start by dropping two of the three doubles matches. The lone doubles win came from Charlie Wilhelm ’15 and Beau Bressler ’16 at No. 3 doubles with an 8-3 victory. But the Pioneers came back in singles, winning five out of the six matches. Singles winners were Wilhelm (6-0, 6-0), Bryson Cale ’16 (6-3, 6-3), Sam Catanzaro ’16 (7-5, 2-6, 7-6(5)), Caleb Kumar ’16 (6-2, 6-2) and Will Hamilton ’17 (6-0, 6-0).

Though Coach Hamilton had not watched the team play as he was in Minnesota, looking at the score sheet he was quick to point out Wilhelm as a standout.

Aaron Lapkin ’15, who lost both his doubles and singles match as the No. 1 player in the home squad, mentioned that he was trying to get back in shape after a year and a half away from tennis.

“Bryson and I have opposite playing styles, the match got really close and I was the one that let Bryson down, because I was having trouble with my serves,” Lapkin said.

Though Lapkin had harsh words for himself, he praised his team for the good win against a Division II team.

“The team was fantastic and we were playing against guys that were on athletic scholarships,” Lapkin said.

It was the Pioneers’ first split-squad match of the season, a luxury that comes with having a deep squad of 19 players and having more matches than other teams.

“We have 19 guys that I consider varsity-level tennis players,” Hamilton said.

Gomez mentioned the split squad as a luxury he wished he had in his first year.

“It’s a great way for everyone on the squad to play and develop,” Gomez said.

The team will face rival Carleton College this weekend and will practice with more intensity after the top players got their wake up calls last week in Minnesota.

“We will focus on the top players more this week in practice and try to get them ready,” Hamilton said.

The key to the match against Carleton will be the performance of the team’s No. 1 and No. 2 doubles teams.

“The doubles team will have to do great and come up with early wins,” Lapkin said.

Gomez also emphasized the team spirit.

“I just want to perform well and contribute to the team so that we win. Ultimately it’s a team game and what matters is that we win,” Gomez said.

Play versus Carleton on Saturday begins at 5 p.m. in Urbandale, Iowa.

—Sam Catanzaro is the Sports Editor for The S&B.

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