Women’s tennis hits its stride, men’s Marley shines

Tennis players Tilly Rigby (left) and Ellie Christensen (right) are pictured after their game against Wesleyan. Courtesy Tufts Women's Tennis

With both Tufts tennis teams’ fall seasons winding down, these squads showed off the hard work they’ve been putting in throughout the semester this past weekend. The women’s team was up at Middlebury for a three-team draw that included the host Panthers, the Bowdoin Polar Bears and the Jumbos. The men’s team was in Lewiston, Maine, where they shared the court with five other Northeast sides: Amherst, Bowdoin, Colby, Skidmore and Trinity. 

With a traditional tournament style format, the Bates’ Wallach Invitational included four flights of singles and two doubles flights. On his 21st birthday, senior Paris Pentousis lined up with classmate Isaac Gorelik and the pair advanced to the semifinals before being outed by the eventual flight winners. Tufts’ second flight, a duo of junior Josh Belandres and first-year Derin Acaroglu, also reached the later stages of the draw, losing in the semifinals.

Tufts continued to have players go deep into the bracket in the second flight. Middlebury tournament Flight B winners junior Rishabh Sharda and senior Dylan Glickman earned a first-round bye, before cruising to the finals to meet teammates sophomore Corey Marley and first-year Vuk Vuksanovic. Marley and Vuksanovic clinched the flight as well as bragging rights with an 8–3 victory. Facing Sharda and Glickman, who have experience with one another, it was imperative that Marley and Vuksanovic made sure that nothing came easy. 

“We returned really well and put a lot of balls in play,” Marley said. “The key was not giving away a lot of free points.”

Nine Jumbos competed in singles draws, with six of them advancing to the semifinal round. In Flight A, Gorelik and Sharda both strung together a few solid matches. Gorelik reached the semifinals before losing to Tristan Bradley of Bowdoin, who would go on to defeat Sharda in the finals. However, Tufts continued to have players reach the later stages of the tournament — Belandres reached the final of Flight B where he lost in a tiebreak. Flight D of singles was flooded with light blue, as all three Jumbos reached the semifinals. The final came down to sophomore Oliver Obeid and doubles winner Marley. As expected, these teammates engaged in a hard-fought match that ended with Marley winning in a tiebreak.

The men’s team will suit up for its final fall competition this weekend at the Wesleyan Invitational.

In Vermont, the women’s team may have exceeded its own high expectations on NESCAC-rival Middlebury’s home courts. Unlike previous fall competitions with a standard tournament format, these matches were played as part of a hidden dual. This meant that players would not advance or be eliminated, and there were no awards handed out at the end of the weekend. Despite this, the Jumbos were ecstatic for the opportunity to hone their skills and face some of the opponents they’ll see come spring competition. With 14 players on the roster and limited spots for matches, competition within the team has elevated this group’s performance.

“Having a bunch of people competing within the team made everyone excited to go out this weekend, especially against Middlebury,” senior Maggie Dorr said

This excitement was tangible early on, as Tufts took the first two matches of the day in doubles draws against Bowdoin. Tufts would go on to tally nine more singles victories out of 14 that day. On Sunday, the Jumbos were a class above their NESCAC opponents. Dropping only two matches out of 15, the Jumbos showcased the talent that earned them a final four berth last spring.

For doubles duo junior Tilly Rigby and first-year Ella Christensen, their fall season will be extended as they head to Georgia for the ITA Cup starting on Thursday. With this being the last chance for most of the roster to play non-Tufts opponents, this boost of morale and momentum will make an already competitive group even more determined. Even with this success, it’s clear that there is no space for complacency.

“There’s still so much more to be done,” Dorr said. “[We] have to stay on top of it in the offseason.”