On Wednesday, the men’s tennis team lost 6-3 to No. 35 Brandeis, which improved to 5-7 on the season, while No. 23 Tufts fell to 3-2. Although Tufts split the singles competition with Brandeis, the host swept all three doubles matches to secure the victory.
This was the Jumbos’ first match in nine days after their road trip over spring break saw them get off to a strong 3-1 start. Tufts’ three victories came by an average margin of 5.67 match wins, and its one loss came in a tight affair against the then-No. 9 Pomona-Pitzer.
The Jumbos were put in a hole early against the judges as the No. 2 doubles team of sophomore Ben Battle and junior Nick Cary fell 8-3 to sophomore Brian Granoff and junior Danny Lubarsky. Brandeis then went on to defeat the remaining Jumbos’ doubles of No. 3, first-year Rohan Gupte and junior co-captain Rob Jacobson, and No. 1, junior Nik Telkedzhiev and senior co-captain Brian Tan, by scores of 8-5 and 9-7 respectively.
With a 3-0 lead going into singles, the Judges needed just two more wins to clinch a victory, and got them with the first two matches featuring the top two spots in the line-up. Sophomore Michael Arguello defeated Battle, 6-1, 6-3, and at No. 1, Granoff defeated Telkedzhiev. The Jumbos would take three out of the next four matches, but it proved to be too little too late.
“It was not as much a setback as more of a wake up call,” coach Karl Gregor said of the loss. “The team is still headed in the right direction in terms of our long term process, goals and what we need to be better at. As a whole, the team came out flat, and it is really a good lesson for them to have the first day of April versus later in the month, when we are getting closer to the conference season. It is just a good lesson for everybody, myself included.”
With over a week of downtime it could be possible that the Jumbos were experiencing some rust against a Brandeis team that had played just three days before. Cary, however, believed that this was not a factor.
“I think it might have been less about rust and more about the fact that we were not as prepared as we thought we were,” Cary said. “We had over a week where it was just practice and we were coming off of our trip to California where we played doubles very well, and I think we just assumed that that would carry over to yesterday’s match. I am sure that rust was a little involved, but I think it was more wrongfully assuming that it would carry over from break.”
Tufts begins its NESCAC schedule on Saturday against defending national champion Amherst, and will also be playing Trinity and Middlebury next week.
“We really want to ramp up the competitiveness of practice and try to shape every week to peak at our match events,” Gregor said, speaking about preparing for the upcoming NESCAC match-ups. “We really want to monitor team health and well-being and do our best to prepare for those twice, and now sometimes three times, a week competitions.”
To be able to play competitively in the NESCAC this season, however, will require the Jumbos to stage a better performance than the one on Tuesday against Brandeis. The team believes, however, that Tuesday’s performance was not indicative of their overall potential and that the best is yet to come.
“It was immediately touched upon after the loss by Karl,” Cary said. “If we’re going to have a hiccup or a match where we do not perform our best, at least it was in the beginning and not later on. I think ultimately you want to be playing some of your best tennis toward the middle and end of the season. Hopefully this will be the first and last kind of challenge or match where things do not really go your way. But at least we got it over with and we have another month of matches, so there is nowhere to go but up.”
Tufts will face off against Amherst at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 4.