Sports

In return home, men’s tennis sweeps Brown Invitational

The tournament employed hidden dual matches to mirror the spring style of play

By
Contributing Writer
Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Co-captain David Neff ’14 said introducing head-to-head play this season has improved training for many of the team’s players.

Bruno dominated at this weekend’s Brown Invitational — held in honor of Margaux Powers, a former Brown tennis standout.

The competitoin emulated a spring tournament, with four teams playing each other in a head-to-head format. Division III Middlebury College, Georgetown Univesity and Ivy League rival Dartmouth all traveled to Providence for the Bears’ first home tournament in almost a month.

The fall season in collegiate tennis is generally viewed as training for spring season competition. It is a chance for inexperienced players and first-years to familiarize themselves with the high level of play and physical demand of playing matches each weekend, said co-captain David Neff ’14.

But the structure of the fall tournaments does not always match that purpose. The elimination brackets often used to mix and match different players from different schools can end with two players from the same school facing off in the final match, which would never happen in the spring.

Recently, organizers have been working to change the layout of fall tournaments to more closely mimic the dual matches that take place in the spring.

“They’re moving a little more towards hidden dual matches. … They’re not official matches, but it gives more of a flavor of spring tennis,” Neff said. “I’m a big proponent of it. I think it gives the freshmen a good sense of how it works in the spring time.”

“It was really nice to play at home,” said Daniel Hirschberg ’15. “We’re very accustomed to playing on the indoor courts, which not a lot of teams are used to, so it’s a big advantage for us.”

“It’s tough to play on the road all the time. You’re staying in hotels, you’re not doing your own routine, and you’re out of rhythm,” said Will Spector ’15. “There’s a certain level of comfort that comes with playing at home.”

Bruno started off the weekend bright and early against the Panthers 9 a.m. Saturday. Hirschberg, Greg Garcia ’17 and Ivan Kravtchenko ’16 all picked up singles wins en route to a team win over Middlebury. “They’re a Div. III team, a strong one, but compared to Div. I they’re not quite as competitive,” Spector said.

The Bears faced the Hoyas Saturday afternoon, winning all but one of the matches. Hirschberg, Spector, Garcia, and Kravtchenko earned wins in the top four singles spots over their Georgetown opponents.

The team regrouped Sunday with its efforts focused on their next opponent, the Big Green. Dartmouth’s roster featured two tall players with powerful serves. Hirschberg and Neff, both of whom are shorter than 6 feet tall, were pitted against them.

“It was definitely a disadvantage for me,” Hirschberg said. “I was just trying to position myself really far back in the court, so I had a little more time to react and get a good return on his serve.” Hirschberg made more in-match adjustments to the Dartmouth player, yielding a Bruno victory.

“It helps because we’ve got two big servers on the team right now in Justin To (’15.5) and Eli Whittle (’17),” Neff said. “Practicing against them for the past five or six weeks definitely pays dividends in a match like this.”

The team’s cohesiveness and exposure to playing styles similar to Dartmouth’s helped lead to Bruno’s victory.

“It was the last match of the weekend, and all the guys came out really strong. We were getting loud and cheering on our teammates. It was a total team win,” Spector said. “It’s always an encouraging sign to win one over a league rival.”

The team will have a weekend to recover before traveling down to Yale for the second time this season to compete Oct. 17-20 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Regional Championships.

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