By Rohan Ahluwalia
The men’s tennis team began their season with a pair of wins at home, defeating both Dickinson College, 9-0, on Saturday, March 3, and Franklin and Marshall College the next day, 7-2.
“This was a great start for us,” said head coach Scott Dicheck. “We are very optimistic about the season. The toughest problem we’ve had to start the season is a lot of injuries, but the leaders we have on the team helped us through.”
Junior Matt Puig was one of the top performers for the Lions against Dickinson College. Forming a partnership in doubles competition with junior Omar Bokhari, both Puig and Bokhari went 8-0 in their game against senior Nick Reese and junior Derek Chen of Dickinson.
Afterward, senior Chris D’Agostino teamed up with junior Mitchel Sanders as they defeated the Dickinson duo of seniors Samuel Loring and Shawn Diniz by 8-5. Junior Tim Gavornik and sophomore Gokul Murugesan won their game, 8-1, over Dickinson freshmen Joey Bolanos and Vincent Tover Dias.
In the singles competition, Puig earned a straight set victory over Chen, winning both his sets 6-0.
Sanders managed to get the better of Diniz, winning both sets, 6-2 and 6-3. Bokhari defeated Loring in two sets, 6-2 and 7-5.
Gavornik and junior Achyuth Balijepalle respectively won their singles matches over Bolanos and Reese. Murugesan also won his singles match in three sets over Dickinson’s Bryce Perritt, losing the first set 4-6 but bouncing back in his next sets for 6-4 and 10-7 wins.
The next day, the Lions cruised to a 7-2 victory over Franklin and Marshall.
For the second match in a row, the Lions won all three doubles competitions. Puig and Bokhari continued their cohesive partnership with a 8-3 victory over junior Zack Levin and senior Will Samuels of Franklin and Marshall. Gavornik and Murugesan also partnered up for their 8-5 win over opposing sophomore Andrew Pace and junior Isaac Salas. Sanders and D’Agostino rounded out the doubles matches for the Lions as they won a close match against Franklin and Marshall senior Jack Rothman and freshman Sam Bellersen, 9-7.
In singles competition, Sanders continued his stellar performance as he defeated Rothman in two sets, 7-5 and 7-6. The Lions did suffer two defeats against Franklin and Marshall, the first of which came when Puig went down against Salas. Salas won the first set, 6-3, before Puig won the second, 6-4. In the third and deciding set, Salas came out on top, winning 7-5.
Murugesan took the Lions’ second defeat when he lost in straight sets against Pace. Despite Murugesan trying his best to outdo his opponent, he lost the first set 7-6 and the second set 6-3.
Despite the two losses, the Lions did manage to earn three wins which led to their victory over Franklin and Marshall. Bokhari defeated Levin in two sets, 6-2 and 6-3. Gavornik won his game against Bellersen in two sets, 6-3 and 6-4. Finally, Balijepalle won his game against Samuels in three sets, winning the first, 6-3, before losing the next set, 5-7 and finally winning the last set, 10-7.
After earning two victories, the Lions will return to training as they prepare to play New York University on Thursday, March 8 at the Recreation Center at 4 p.m. The team will then return to the Rec Center for another match against Goucher College on Friday, March 9 at 4 p.m.