Litsky, Solokov lead men’s tennis to close 5-4 victory

Freshman Allen Sokolov winds up to return hit in recent home game. It was a victory from Sokolov that lifted Vassar to a 5-4 win over Babson College on Saturday, April 18. / Courtesy of Carlisle Stockton

This past Friday, despite its best efforts, the Vassar College men’s tennis team fell to No. 21 Massachusetts Institute of Technology 2-7. However, the team bounced back from this downfall to conquer Babson College, ranked No. 20 regionally, the next morning. Despite playing in the poor weather conditions outside, including low temperatures and much wind, the Brewers emerged ready to play, knocking off their opponents in a 5-4 matchup.

On Friday, the downpour in the Boston area forced most of the players’ matches to be held indoors. Right before this relocation, senior Nick Litsky and sophomore Nick Zuczek opened the game day with a match at No. 3 doubles. Although the two hindered the efforts of their MIT opponents, the pair eventually lost the matchup 7-9. While the duo was unable to secure the win, they showed great skill and determination throughout the match.

“Zuczek and I played a good match in tough conditions against a top 25 nationally ranked team,” Litsky relayed. “So it still gave us a lot of confidence moving forward in the season.” Zuczek seconded this sentiment, noting the monumentality of competing with such a skilled team. “We went up early in the match, but when MIT elevated their level of play, we were not able to do the same. However, the loss revealed that we are right at the same level as nationally ranked teams, like MIT.”

MIT continued to show dominance in their doubles matchups as the day progressed. The opposing team overpowered senior Alexander Luckmann and freshman Jeremy Auh with a score of 8-2, and then proceeded to defeat senior Juan Felipe Laso and freshman Allen Sokolov 8-4. But Vassar found a major victory in the singles action of the day.

In singles, Litsky paved his way to victory at the No. 1 spot with scores of 6-4, 6-2. “I started off very slowly,” recalled Litsky. “But I picked up my game midway through and played well for the rest of the match. While it could have started off a bit better, a win is a win, so I’m happy about it.” This win was no ordinary win for Litsky however, as it marked his 100th career win as a Brewer. The senior has shown extraordinary talent in each of his years at Vassar. Since freshman year, Litsky secured the No. 1 position full-time as his track record has grown consistently stronger.

“Litsky has always been outstanding for us,” praised Head Coach Alex Wong. “I cannot say enough to express what he has meant to us. He has been our number one player for three years, and that is a very difficult position–not only because you are always playing the other team’s top player, but also because of the leadership responsibilities that the position carries. He has been one of our most winning players and without him, we definitely would not have encountered the success that we have.”

As the battle against MIT continued, sophomore Jamie Anderson and his opposition competed in an intense matchup. With scores of 4-6, 6-4, Anderson headed into a third and decisive set. Despite valiant efforts, Anderson ultimately lost 6-10. Within this match, Anderson earned his fifth three-setter in his last six matches, bringing his current season total up to seven. Following this, Luckmann defeated his MIT opponent 8-5 at No. 6, and Auh fell to his rival 8-5, despite maintaining an even match through seven games.

Dissatisfied with their loss to MIT, the Brewers came out of the gates determined to beat Babson College the following morning. Although the team fell behind briefly in the beginning of the day, they were quick to make a strong comeback.

Starting the day, Luckmann and Auh faced a 3-8 defeat from their Babson competitors in the opening No. 1 doubles matchup. Directly following this loss, Laso and Sokolov were able to win their doubles with a score of 8-4, evening the score out at one for each team. But Babson once again pulled ahead, pulling out a victory in the last doubles match over No. 3 Litsky and Zuczek.

Laso made a quick turnaround in the singles, winning his matches 6-0 and 6-4 respectively to pull Vassar back up to a tie. With more back and forth, Luckmann and Anderson helped lift the Brewers to a one-point lead with respective 6-3, 6-2 and 6-4, 7-5 victories. “After falling behind 2-1 in doubles, we bounced back with four wins in singles,” remarked Laso about the comeback. “It took a team effort to fight and comeback against a tough team like Babson.”

After Litsky was defeated in singles, Sokolov stepped out for Vassar. Sokolov battled his opponent and the match eventually headed into a tiebreaker to ultimately decide not only the victor of the individual competition, but of the overall team clash as well. Sokolov earned the first two points of the game, and while his opponent attempted to make a comeback, Sokolov pulled away with the win. This marked his 10th personal win of the season, as well as a narrow 5-4 win for Vassar over Babson.

“Allen’s performance all of this year has been great, and his performance against Babson was really solid,” declared Coach Wong. “He found himself down 6-5 in the third set, but did a great job getting to the tiebreaker and winning it. As a freshman, to keep that composure showed great maturity. We were immensely grateful that he was on our side.”

“We played really well as a team,” Sokolov stated, crediting his teammates for the day’s success against Babson as well. “There were definitely tense times during the match, but we stuck together and fed off of each other’s energy. It was a true team effort, in which every single member of the team was crucial to us coming away with the win.” Head Coach Wong, as well as many of the team’s players, agree that this victory over Babson gives the Brewers huge confidence in their collective ability moving forward in the season. The last time Vassar faced off against Babson in 2014, the Brewers were overpowered decisively 1-8.

“This time, it is good to walk away with a tough earned win,” explained Coach Wong. As the fourth 5-4 victory that the team has won this year, the match shows the team’s capability of pulling out wins in extremely competitive, intense matches.

Despite the major individualistic components of the game, the members of the team both rely on and push each other in order to reach success collaboratively. “Against Babson, our team really came together,” Zuczek acknowledged. “We not only elevated our level of play, but also our intensity and positive energy altogether.”

Now ranked No. 16 regionally, the Brewers will take on the RPI Engineers on Saturday, April 15, in hopes of securing a playoff seed.

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