Playing host to the Lions’ Kick-off Invitational, the men’s tennis team impressed throughout the weekend. The Lions faced two formidable non-conference opponents, New York University and Stevens Institute of Technology. In the two-day tournament, the Lions played doubles matches on Friday and singles matches on Saturday. For the weekend, the Lions went 13-3 in singles play and 7-1 in doubles play, showing their ability to play well in both.
“Both the singles and doubles matches went really well this weekend,” said senior Jordan Cruz. “I thought everyone played really good, aggressive tennis, which is what we need to do to have success this year. All three of our top doubles teams got more comfortable with one another, which really manifests itself in our self-confidence and level of play overall.”
The top three pairings kicked off the tournament by going a combined 6-0. In Flight A, the pairings of seniors Marc Nichols and T.J. Riley, and junior Howard Telson and freshman Pierce Cooper, each won both matches. In Flight B, Cruz and freshman Billy Buchbinder also won both matches. For the season, the Lions are 16-2 in doubles with the Telson/Cooper and Cruz/Buchbinder duos leading the way with five victories each.
“I was not satisfied at all with my own play,” Riley said. “I’m still trying to get my game back after a long summer without playing and I was in control of my first singles match. I let it slip which is uncharacteristic of my game. So I was disappointed with that, but it will turn around.”
The hot rackets continued into the singles matches the following day. The Lions have had no shortage of depth in their matches. On day two of the tournament, the Lions had five different players come away with wins. Junior Gabe Allen, Buchbinder and Cooper lead the Lions with four victories on the season, and the team as a whole is an impressive 26-5.
Keeping a loose and relaxed locker room has reflected the Lions’ play on the court. This team has a variety of different personalities contributing on the team’s overall unity. The cohesiveness of this squad has shined to many aspects of the doubles pairings where teamwork is needed.
“We have a lot of fun together and work hard for each other,” Riley said. “Gabe and I are the ones that keep the mood light. We’re the jokers. The freshmen are the quiet ones that people goof around with, while Jordan and Howie like to chime in with intelligent conversations.”
The Lions will continue their outstanding play as they get the opportunity to match up against some of the top teams in the region, taking part in the ITA Northeast Regional hosted by Ithaca College on Sept. 28.
“The team’s chemistry is definitely different from years past,” Cruz said. “We have a more cohesive group this year with everyone making their own contribution. We now have a few weeks off which will be very helpful in getting everyone back to 100 percent.”