The men’s tennis team fell 5-4 to No. 2 Emory College on Saturday. The loss dropped them to 3-6 on the season. The No. 30 Jumbos came just one point shy from pulling off the monumental upset. Tufts has now dropped its last five matches after beginning the season 3-1.
The Jumbos fell behind 2-1 in doubles with their only win coming at the No. 1 spot with junior Nik Telkedzhiev and first-year Rohan Gupte gaining an 8-6 victory. In singles, Tufts got three wins from first-years Zain Ali and Garret Weinstein and junior Jay Glickman at the No. 4, No. 6 and No. 5 spots, respectively.
“There are a lot of positives from a 5-4 loss to a top-two team,” junior co-captain Rob Jacobson said. “We had a lot of guys step up and play really well and its obviously disappointing to lose the match, but we realize its important to learn from our losses and hopefully when we are in this position again, we can come through.”
Coach Karl Gregor was also optimistic about the loss.
“We got probably as close as you possibly can to winning and just came up short,” Gregor said. “You look at the last 10 years at our matches against top teams and we were getting blown out. We would go in hoping to just get one or two points, but now after playing these top teams so closely I think all the guys on the team know that they belong in the top. I think we are starting to see a culture shift in the program where we believe that we can win these matches.”
Despite a close effort against a top team, the Jumbos are still facing an uphill battle as they look to end their five-game skid. Earlier in the week, Tufts fell to No. 23 Trinity 5-4 and No. 6 Middlebury 6-2. All three doubles teams came out victorious against Trinity, but Gupte was the only Tufts player able to claim a victory in singles as Trinity completed the come-from-behind win. Against Middlebury, first-years Gupte and Ali continued to impress, getting the Jumbos’ sole points in singles play.
Although disappointed with the final results, Gregor acknowledged the tough part of the schedule that the Jumbos have just pushed through.
“You look at the past week, we’ve played three teams ranked in the top 25 in the country,” Gregor said. “It is tough to be too optimistic with a schedule like that, but we have gotten through the hard part of our schedule and we really look to win the rest of our matches. I think we’ve been really battle-toughened by these last few matches, and hopefully we can continue on and bring that to the rest of our opponents.”
First-year Griffin Brockman was also able to keep the Jumbos’ recent losses in perspective.
“I think you have to come into the season with realistic expectations,” Brockman said. “With such a young team it was easy for us to say we could be close to these really experienced teams, but it was hard for us to follow that up. Emory’s best players were all senior captains who had previous NCAA tournament experience. Sometimes expectations have to [be] based less on talent and more on experience.”
Tufts will next travel to unranked Colby on Friday to play a 4:00 p.m. match. With five of the six remaining matches against other NESCAC teams it is not unrealistic that the Jumbos could make a push for the conference tournament. To accomplish this feat, however, the Jumbos will have to take it one match at a time.
“Well the goal is always to win every match we play and do our best to accomplish our goals,” Jacobson said. “We take every match with equal weight, and we realize that towards the end of the season every match is important to attaining our goal of playing in the postseason.”