Men’s tennis topped Old Dominion 4-3 on Saturday to begin its dual season with a victory and will head to Charlottesville, Virginia this weekend for the ITA Kick-Off Weekend.
The Lions (1-0) defeated the Monarchs (3-1) after victories in first, third, fourth, and sixth singles propelled them to their ninth consecutive win at the Dick Savitt Tennis Center.
Despite dropping the doubles point, the Light Blue overcame the early deficit, clinching the victory after sophomore Alex Keyser finished off a straight-set 6-1, 6-3 victory over Old Dominion’s Francois Musitelli at fourth singles. With the match close throughout, head coach Bid Goswami said he was pleased with the team’s victory against tough competition.
“We’ll take the win today, and I think they’re a big sleeper,” Goswami said. “They might not be in the top 25 right now, but they will be pretty soon, and I knew it going into the match today.”
Before Keyser clinched the match, the Lions registered victories at sixth, third, and first singles, after dropping two of three doubles matches.
At sixth singles, Timothy Wang, ranked No. 122 in the most recent Intercollegiate Tennis Association Rankings, topped the Monarchs’ Javier Jover Maestre 6-0, 6-2, finishing his match in just under an hour. About 10 minutes later, first-year Jack Lin continued his winning ways at third singles, cruising past Old Dominion’s Vincent Schneider 6-2, 6-1.
According to Goswami, who has coached many highly regarded players over his 36-year career in charge of the Light Blue, Lin is perhaps one of the most talented first-years he has ever had on the roster. And the Markham, Ontario native has lived up to the hype, with Saturday’s match serving as no exception.
Lin, who tallied three victories at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Invitational in Atlanta, increased his record to 4-0 this spring, having won every match in straight sets.
Junior Victor Pham—who assumed full control of first singles in light of the graduation of Shawn Hadavi, CC ’17—battled Old Dominion’s Adam Moundir with Hadavi watching in the crowd. Moundir, who posted a 17-5 record a season ago for the Monarchs, featured a big game that gave Pham trouble in the early goings.
After capturing the first set 6-4, No. 19 Pham would serve for the match at 5-4 up. But on deuce, Pham was broken by Moundir, whose powerful serve loomed.
Cheered on by an enthusiastic home crowd led by Hadavi and other alumni including Christopher Grant, CC ’17, Richard Pham, CC ’17, Mike Vermeer, GS ’16 and Max Schnur, CC ’15, Victor Pham beat Moundir at 5-5, and finished the match out on serve for a 7-5 second-set win.
With the Lions in front 3-1, the match appeared in hand. But with Keyser up 4-2 in the second set, the knee injury that bothered him in the spring resurfaced, and the sophomore was forced to serve underhanded. Capturing a critical deuce point, Keyser would go up 5-2 before finishing out an entire game utilizing a rare underhanded service for a 6-3 victory to clinch the match.
Despite the lack of fanfare, it was another victory for the Lions, whose unprecedented success over the last four seasons has elevated the program to new heights.
No. 38 sophomore Jackie Tang and first-year Austen Huang came up short in their respective singles matches, as Tang fell in two sets, 7-5, 6-4, and Huang stumbled in three sets, 6-7(5), 6-4, 1-0(7).
The pair of Victor Pham and Jackie Tang, ranked No. 15 in the most recent ITA rankings, fell 6-4 to the Monarchs’ No. 22 pair of Aziz Kijametovic and Musitelli in doubles play. Before that defeat—which gave Old Dominion the cherished doubles point—the pair of senior Michal Rolski and sophomore Adam Ambrozy cruised to a 6-2 victory, while the No. 31 ranked pair of Lin and junior William Matheson fell 6-1. Despite the team’s struggles in doubles, Goswami remained optimistic that his team would improve going into this weekend’s play.
After the Old Dominion victory, the Lions will travel to Charlottesville, where they will take part in the ITA Kick-Off while looking to advance to the ITA National Indoor Championship. Last season, the Light Blue fell short against Oklahoma State 4-1 in Stillwater, settling for an ECAC Championship bid, where they predictably cruised past mostly Ivy opponents en route to the title.
In order to move to the 16-team ITA National Team Indoor Championship, Goswami’s squad will need to first defeat Mississippi, before battling the winner of No. 15 Virginia and No. 25 Texas Tech should it top the Rebels. While the Cavaliers topped the Lions a season ago, that dominant team graduated most of its deep lineup, returning just two upperclassmen this season.
The Lions will battle the Rebels in Charlottesville on Saturday. First serve is scheduled for 2 p.m.