After suffering losses earlier this season, the men’s tennis team competed at the Army Invite and proved its tenacity and talent are finally paying off.
The Elis traveled to West Point, N.Y., where they won 10 of the 12 flights. The team claimed seven of the eight singles flights and three of the four doubles flights.
Captain Rory Green ’08 said the Bulldogs had high expectations for themselves before going into play at the Army Invite.
“We expected to be the best team there, but we also knew they had a lot of good players,” he said. “We had to play with equal intensity since the other teams really came with a lot of enthusiasm. We had to fight hard to get our wins, but we only dropped a couple of matches.”
Michael Caldwell ’09 was undefeated in the top singles flight, winning all three of his matches. After winning against top players from Binghamton and Army, he beat Leo Mochizuki of St. Bonaventure in straight sets for a 6-2, 6-4 win.
Green dominated the competition in flight three. He went on to a perfect 3-0 record after his 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Victor Lecina of St. Bonaventure. Connor Dawson ’10 played well for the Bulldogs and did not lose a match in flight four. Calvin Bennett ’11, already making an immediate impact as a freshman, escaped from flight five unbeaten.
“We all played excellently,” Bennett said. “I was amazed with everyone’s ability, and I just hope we can keep it up for next week’s big tournament.”
Coach Alex Dorato praised members of the team for their ability to maintain energy even after playing multiple sets.
“I was particularly pleased that of the 24 single matches, a third of them were three setters, and we won all eight of those, which means that we’re playing very well under pressure and we’re in good shape because we’re not tiring at the end of the match,” Dorato said.
Dorato said the fact that the Bulldogs were able to play consistently is a testament to effort during practice and time spent at the gym.
The Bulldogs’ hard work also led them to success in doubles play. The team’s wins in three of four flights were especially impressive given the fact that the Bulldogs were experimenting with different combinations, except for Michael Caldwell and Connor Dawson, who have already played together this year. Even though Caldwell and Dawson lost to St. Bonaventure’s Lecina and Luce, they were still able to win flight one.
Jeff Dawson ’09 and Green paired up in flight two and won all of their matches, including a close contest against St. Bonaventure’s Post and Mochizuki.
“We are very pleased with our doubles results seeing as we tried new combinations,” Dorato said.
The Bulldogs will complete their fall season at the end of this week in Princeton, N.J. at the ITA Regionals, the qualifier for the national indoors. Given the team’s impressive performance this past weekend, Dorato said he believes that the team should have an optimistic outlook for the competition in New Jersey.
“I think we have some players who have a shot of doing very well, like Michael Caldwell, who is capable of beating anybody,” Dorato said.
Green echoed these sentiments and explained that the Army Invite was a great opportunity to play a lot of matches, but the ITA Regionals will be the biggest competition of the season.
“It was a great weekend with a lot of matches,” Green said. “We got some tough matches with a lot of three-setters, and it suggests we’re in good mental and physical condition for next weekend.”