Tennis claims title

This past weekend, the Vassar men’s tennis team capped off a historic season by winning the regional Liberty League Championships, reclaiming the title for the Brewers for the first time since 2010. After two long days of competition, the team defeated Union College in the quarter finals, beat Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the semis, and edged out No. 1 Liberty League ranked team Skidmore College in the finals to secure the title.

The men’s tennis program is the only Vassar team to win a Liberty League championship so far this year. For senior co-captain Dan Freeman, winning this title capped off his time at Vassar College. “As a senior, winning this title couldn’t have been more special to me. It was pretty much the only thing missing from my Vassar experience,” described Freeman. “It was a huge goal for me to help Vassar earn a LL title during my 3 years here. Achieving that with my final chance made it incredible.”

After defeating Union in the quarterfinals, the team almost lost to RPI in the semis, winning 5-4. Senior co-captain and number one singles player Andrew Guzick won the final match against RPI’s number one Jarrett Regier, pushing Vassar into the finals, where they would soon face long time rival Skidmore College. Guzick again clinched the match for Vassar, beating Skidmore’s Jimmy Sherpa and bringing the final score to 5-2. Guzick described the winning moment and the atmosphere among the team. “It felt too good,” he explained. “We haven’t beaten Skidmore since my freshman year three years ago, and we’ve been working all year with the singular goal of beating them in the finals of Liberty Leagues in mind. We all came out as fired up as we have been all year, and when we finally got the W, it was ecstatic.”

The team arguably had one of the toughest schedules for the season, as Head Coach John Cox explained. “Our schedule included 9 teams that were nationally ranked… and of that three each were teams in the Top 10, Top 20, and Top 30. We also played Division 1 Patriot League powerhouse Army,” Cox wrote.

After his second year as the head coach of the program, Cox expressed his pride for the boys. “They played like champions against a very tough nationally ranked opponent in the finals. They were tested in the semifinals by a very strong up and coming team. I am very pleased for them to achieve this championship and especially the seniors. This was their last opportunity to be Liberty League Champions. They worked all year for it. They achieved it.”

For members of the team, this win was a well-deserved ending to a hard fought battle. Senior co-captain Nick Jasso described how much this championship meant to him. “I cannot even describe how happy I feel at this moment,” Jasso expressed in an emailed statement. “This was the team’s goal from the onset of the season. We played an incredibly tough schedule. We played so many of the top-ranked teams in the nation this year. Our record wasn’t that strong. But now look-we’re Liberty League champions and it’s literally a dream come true. I could not imagine a better way to end my career at Vassar, and I’m so happy to have accomplished this with some of the best friends I’ve ever made.”

Freshman Christian Phelps, who pulled out crucial wins during the Championship weekend, described the impact that this win will have for Vassar men’s tennis. “This win is a big deal for our program,” Phelps wrote. “Our seniors deserved this win more than anyone, and as underclassmen, we’re excited for the confidence and drive this win gives us going into upcoming years.” Fellow freshman Evan Udine echoed his teammate. “This gives us a good chance of going on to nationals. This shows that Vassar athletics is moving in the right direction,” explained Udine.

The Brewers did not get to this point without a lot of hard work during the season, as elaborated on by freshman Daniel Cooper. “We did a lot of preparation day in and day out to get this win,” Cooper wrote. “We faxed pressure situations all year long, so we were ready for the semis against RPI and the finals against Skidmore. We showed both teams how much we wanted it and how clutch we were. All season long we played a tough schedule, but we were always conscious that the ultimate goal was to beat Skidmore in the LL finals. And that mindset payed off.”

However, this win does not mark the end for Vassar men’s tennis this year. “We still have more season ahead of us,” explained Guzick. “We expect to make NCAAs and hope to make an impact there. We won our first ever first-round at nationals last year, and we’re hoping to get that kind of result again.” Yet for now, the team will savor the well deserved win. “It’s pretty unreal to get paid off for working all year with the goal in mind that we wanted to take out Skidmore in the finals of Liberty Leagues. We executed when we needed to and we’re pretty pumped about it,” Guzick wrote.

During his last year on the team, Jasso sees this win as a testament to the Vassar community as a whole. “On paper, we should have lost,” explained Jasso. “But a lot of what is so appealing about Vassar is that, as a student body, we tend not to conform to the opinions or predispositions of others just because they’re popular–we form our opinions and act based on what we think should happen.”

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