Tennis Continues Season as MAAC Tournament Nears

T Season MAAC TournamentTennis season is in full swing, with the Hawks entering the heart of their season. The men are looking to benefit from a challenging non-conference schedule as they head into the heart of Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) play. On the women’s side, the team is looking to overcome a tough 4-3 loss to Niagara on Sunday afternoon, and add some wins to their record.

Men’s Tennis

The men’s tennis team may have struggled in their spring break matches against the University of Virginia (UVA), but that is to be expected when facing a team that is ranked third in the nation.

Men’s Tennis Head Coach Alex Kasarov was pleased with how his team performed at UVA. “Both Nicky (Nicola Pipoli) and Shemy (Przemyslaw Filipek) had very competitive matches against the number one and two players from Virginia who are ranked top 10, top 20 in the country,” Kasarov said. The Hawks were able to play two matches facing UVA over break after cancellations created an opening in the schedule.

After spring break, the team continued its challenging non-conference schedule with another trip down to Virginia to face Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) on Saturday, Mar. 25 and the University of Richmond on Sunday, Mar. 26. In a close match against VCU, the Hawks picked up the doubles point including a 6-2 win at number one doubles over the nationally ranked VCU team of Daryl Monfils and Marten Jonsson.

Multiple players had strong performances against VCU, especially in the top three singles positions. “Ale Gomez at three singles came back from losing a tough first set. He hung around and stayed in the match to win the second set and ended up winning in three sets,” Kasarov said.  However, it was not enough for the Hawks that day as they fell 5-2.

Nonetheless, the team had many positive takeaways from these non-conference matches. “It has been a tremendous experience for us to be able to compete against teams like Notre Dame, Virginia, VCU, and North Carolina State earlier in the year,” Kasarov said. These rigorous non-conference matches will give the team an edge in conference matches.

On Sunday, the Hawks cruised to a 7-0 win in their match versus Niagara to remain perfect in conference play this season.

The Hawks will have three more non-conference matches mixed into their schedule as they prepare for the MAAC Championships.

“We look forward to competing against every one of the teams in the conference and we will give it our best shot. If the chips fall our way, that’s great,” Kasarov said.

Women’s Tennis

After Sunday’s close loss to Niagara, the women’s tennis team is looking to build off their previous win against St. Francis on Saturday, Apr. 1 and carry a good mentality into the upcoming week’s matches.

“It was a great win against St. Francis and today was a tough match against Niagara, but we competed well,” Patrice Murray, Women’s Tennis Head Coach, said.

In these matches, it is vital for the team to clinch the doubles point. This happens when a team wins two of the three doubles matches. “The doubles point will always come back to haunt you, so that is something that we do need to focus on,” Murray said.

“Winning the doubles point makes you win three singles matches,” Murray continued. “But if you lose the doubles point, you have to win those four singles, which is tough.” Getting this first point is key in gaining the upper hand in matches.

This season, Murray said she is looking to all of her players to step up and perform well. “Each player, regardless of the position that they are playing, has to produce. Every point counts the same,” Murray said. Although Murray enforces that each individual player must perform to their own ability, she also makes it a point to remind them that the sport relies on team strength and support.

The Hawks fell short of reaching the MAAC Championships last spring, and have an uphill battle to the postseason again this year. “The loss to Niagara and the loss to Rider in the fall, which was an upset, is going to make it difficult to make it into the MAAC Tournament, but we will try our best to get there,” Murray said.

Both the men’s and women’s teams will continue conference play when they face off against Siena on Saturday, Apr. 8. The women begin at noon while the men will compete at 2 p.m.

PHOTO COURTESY of Monmouth Athletics