The Vassar men’s tennis team has kicked off their lengthy main season this spring with strong performances and high expectations. “We had a pretty good fall season, and we came back this spring hitting the ground running. Everyone is looking really good, from the top of the lineup all the way through the bottom of the lineup, and we’ve already made great strides in just the one month we’ve had so far,” says senior captain Daniel Cooper.
Thus far, they beat Clark University 9-0 in their home match-opener, but fell to one of their toughest Liberty League rivals, Skidmore College, 6-3. The nationally ranked team has bested Vassar in addition to winning the League championships for the past few years. However, the Brewers showed one of their strongest performances against the Thoroughbreds. Head coach Alex Wong commented, “Though we lost 6-3, this is a big improvement from how we have done the last couple of years against Skidmore, and we are even more eager now to earn another opportunity to play them in the playoffs.“
Additionally, talented sophomore Gray Thurstone played his second college tennis match against Skidmore after battling terrible shoulder injuries during his freshman year and beginning of his sophomore year. Wong commented, “It was great having Gray back. I am so proud of how hard he worked to come back from his injuries. Throughout the time he was injured, he kept such a positive attitude and still helped the team in so many ways. It was great to see him come back and be out there representing the team he loves so much.”
This past weekend the team took on University of Rochester and Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). The Brewers fell to University of Rochester 8-1 on Saturday, but followed their loss with a 9-0 victory on Sunday against RIT. Cooper had a particularly successful weekend, securing the only win for the team against University of Rochester in addition to winning both his doubles and singles matches against RIT. This was his fourth consecutive singles win this season.
The season is still young and the team has over 10 competitive matches lined up for their spring season including a spring break trip to California.
The Brewers are led by Coach Wong who joined Vassar during their 2013 season. He has had lots of experience with winning competitively and has already established Vassar as a fearsome competitor during his short time here. He has high expectations for the team, “I am looking forward to a great season. We have a good mix of veteran players and younger players which is creating an exciting atmosphere in practice. I think this group has a lot of potential and we are looking forward to seeing what we can achieve this year. We have an extremely tough schedule with 10 of the top 15 teams in the region so we know we will have to be playing well throughout the entire season. The team is looking good. They have already worked so hard and improved a lot in little time.“
As a player on the team, junior Nick Litsky elaborated, “I am really looking forward to playing matches against some of the top ranked teams. I always find it to be a really great experience to prove ourselves against the best teams in the nation.”
The team expressed similar goals across the board, “One of our major goals this season is to win the Liberty League Championships. It would also be important to get wins against nationally ranked opponents,” said junior Juan Felipe Laso. Similarly Coach Wong expressed his hopes for the team, “Our short term goals are always to improve at each practice and be ready for the match upcoming. But a longer term goal of ours is to put ourselves in a position to compete for the Liberty League Championship.“
Technically, “From the beginning of the season, we have been working on our doubles play. The team has been working hard at this and has already improved significantly since the start of the season,” said Coach Wong.
A uniqueness to Vassar’s strong team is their great team dynamic. This dynamic has been widely acknowledged by the coaches as well as the players themselves, and is seen to be a real asset to the Vassar team. Coach Wong commented, “We are fortunate to have 12 guys that are passionate about representing Vassar. They are an extraordinarily close group and I believe that this will be extremely important as the season moves forward.” From within the team, Laso has also noticed the tightness of the team, “It is amazing to be in season and I feel the team has really come together this semester. The freshmen are fully integrated and are already making some great contributions to the program. This great team dynamic is one of the aspects that could enable our success this season.”
Going forward, Cooper says, “I’m really excited about the season as we have a special group of guys–I can’t wait to see how much we improve and grow together as a team and I think we can do some serious damage this season.“
The other senior captain on the team, Evan Udine says, “The season has been off to a good start. We’ve had a few tough losses and some good wins, but it just shows that we can compete with anyone in the country.” The Brewers have been working really hard, and their hard work has shown. Going into this season, everybody believes that Vassar will compete well with several nationally-ranked teams and keep improving after each match.
After competing against RIT just this past weekend, the team will continue on the road and play NYU next week and will stay on the road until April, after spring break when they play Yeshiva University at home.