Men's Tennis Has a Disappointing Weekend
by Alexander Jones | published Apr. 16th, 2015
Not all seasons can start off flawlessly.
RIT's baseball program is off to a well-recorded start to their season, pulling in wins left and right while maintaining good spirits all around. One would certainly hope that the same mentality could carry over to the rest of RIT's sports programs, but unfortunately that can't always be the case. The RIT men's tennis team (5-7, 1-4 Liberty League) is absolutely a team to beat this season, hosting a wide variety of talented players and coaches, but they simply couldn't keep it together this past weekend.
That's not to say that the team didn't fight valiantly. The Tigers were able to hold their own for the duration of the game, but as is the case with so many RIT sports programs, they simply couldn't keep their lead long enough to clinch a victory. Both losses were by no means a reflection of a lack of talent, drive or passion, but were because of a series of small mistakes that could have very easily been avoided — which is completely understandable, considering that the season is only just beginning, but let's just hope that the team can keep their aggressive edge for long enough to actually take home some victories.
Saturday, April 11's game against Union (1-7, 1-3 Liberty League) should have turned out differently than it ultimately did. Sure, that's a pretty easy thing to say after the fact from a completely outside perspective, but all the pieces were there for an RIT win. The match was held at RIT's own courts, it was an absolutely gorgeous day outside and fan as well as team morale at least appeared to be higher than ever. It looked like everyone was gearing up for an uplifting Tiger victory, but by the end of the game, that apparent goodwill revealed itself to just be high hopes and not much else.
The 6-3 loss certainly came less as a surprise to the team, as well as the fans, and more as a sobering realization of how to do better. RIT's lone three points were scored by third year Industrial and Systems Engineering major Jared Raphael and third year Management Information Systems major Jason Alexander. Raphael and Alexander's matches were easily the highlights of the match, not just because they brought in RIT's only points, but because they demonstrated what the team is capable of in the midst of such a deflating loss. Raphael and Alexander's performances were excellent to behold, holding off their Union opponents with grace and precision. It was somewhat bittersweet to witness: with games like those, it could easily be assumed that the Tigers could hold off such a crucial opponent as Union long enough to skate by with a victory, but that just wasn't the case.
Maybe it was the fact that Union took the lead from RIT early on, with the Tigers barely able to catch up toward the middle of the game. Union's two out of three doubles wins seemed to take the wind out of RIT's sails, and for the duration of the game, the Tigers had a hard time recovering. RIT managed to fare a little bit better as far as singles went, however, with Raphael taking home two wins against Union's Brendan Conry Jr. while still giving up one 7-6. Alexander also seemed to shine a little brighter in the singles matches, taking home 6-2 and 6-3 wins. Still, despite rallying in the singles matches enough to restore the team's spirits, the team still couldn't hold Union off long enough to take home a win, despite having so many odds in their favor.
Sunday, April 12's match against Oneonta State (4-9) didn't pan out much differently than Saturday's game. RIT had every opportunity to take a win from Oneonta State, a team that they haven't had any problems with in the past. Another home game, especially after such a disappointing loss, should theoretically have been the push that the Tigers needed to get a win in for the weekend, but it just wasn't going to happen. That's not to say, however, that the team didn't continue to play as well as they possibly could, which was superbly. There was no slacking off or lack of professional, tight performances from the team, but it simply came down to a manner of just not being able to bring it all together.
The mood wasn't all sour throughout the game, though. Prior to the start of the game, RIT honored several notable fourth year players, such as Mechanical Engineering major Amos Baptiste, Physician Assistant major Marc Lachance, Applied Statistics major Ken Chou, Biomedical Photographic Communications major Frank McGinn III and Information Securities and Forensics major Jake Stocker. It was a nice way to pay homage to the things that make the RIT men's tennis program so great in the face of an underwhelming weekend. The Tigers also managed to start the game off excellently, grasping hold of a 4-1 lead early in the matches. However, just like Saturday's game, the Tigers simply couldn't hold on to it and ended up falling to Oneonta 5-4, letting their win slip away from them.
Now, it's easy to get upset about these losses, and with perfectly good reason. There's no reason why the Tigers shouldn't have pulled through to the end in either of these games and left this weekend with their heads held high. Their mistakes weren't made based on a lack of talent or ambition, but rather because of the challenge of endurance. Playing aggressively in short bursts can pay off wonderfully, but it rarely brings teams to a win at the end of the game, and this is something the Tigers discovered for themselves this past weekend.
Here's to hoping that the men's tennis team can pull things together enough to keep racking up some wins later down the line, but not too much later. With the season already underway, it's going to take some strong words and an even stronger push.