This past weekend, both Jumbo tennis teams left their home courts adjacent to Harleston Hall for competitions that spanned the entire weekend. While Tufts men’s tennis trekked to Middlebury to face off against five other teams, Tufts women’s tennis commuted to nearby Cambridge for a four team tournament at MIT.
The women’s side lined up against host MIT, as well as Amherst and 2021 NCAA runner-up Wesleyan. With this being the first opportunity to compete, 2021 Intercollegiate Tennis Association Coach of the Year Kate Bayard wanted her squad to be competitive but also kept in mind that this was their first tournament back.
“She didn’t overwhelm us with too much,” junior Maddie Suk said. “’Play your best, focus on your match, and cheer on your teammates,’ was the message.”
Tufts registered nine women for singles and five duos for the weekend. Of those nine, four advanced to the round of 16, with junior Tilly Rigby and first-year Elle Christensen bowing out in the semifinals and finals respectively.
On the doubles side, Christensen and junior Casey Cummings had three convincing performances, winning their first two matches by an aggregate score of 16–4 and then advancing to the finals with an 8–6 victory over a partnership of Wesleyan juniors. While Christensen and Cummings ended up finishing as runners-up, there were many silver linings in this first outing. With Tufts coming off of a year where they exceeded expectations and advanced to the NCAA Final Four, the squad came out with confidence and heads into competition certain that they can play with anyone.
“The number one thing is confidence,” Suk said. “Being able to go to these tournaments and knowing that we can compete and beat these schools is important for everyone on our team.”
On the men’s side, 10 singles players and five duos engaged foes from Middlebury, Skidmore, RPI, Bates and Colby in a six team bout across four singles brackets and two doubles flights. On the singles side, senior co-captain Isaac Gorelik finished as the runner-up in the first group. In the fourth flight, first-year Carlo Hayden had a memorable debut, as he worked his way to the finals but was forced to retire due to an untimely injury.
On the doubles end, junior Josh Belandres and first-year Derin Acaroglu won their first two matches in the first flight before bowing out to a Middlebury duo. In the second flight, partners senior Dylan Glickman and junior Rishabh Sharda proved their worth as the No. 1 seed. This army of two flummoxed their four opponents, with not a single team getting more than four games off of them the entire weekend. After an 8–2 victory over a Middlebury partnership, Glickman and Sharda were crowned champions. The two had clear chemistry inside the lines, despite limited playing experience with each other.
“They were closing the net really well, they’re a really high energy team,” Gorelik said. “Both have really strong returns, they just rattled kids, they were really fun to watch.”
Both teams will be preparing for the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Regional Championships the weekend of Oct. 11, with the women facing off at Bowdoin and the men competing at Colby.