Sports

Men’s, women’s tennis pick up wins en route to goal of Ivy title

Experienced women’s team, young men’s team rebounded from early season losses

By
Staff Writer
Friday, February 26, 2016

Ammu Mandalap ’16 returns the ball in a Feb. 20 match, winning 7-6, 6-2 over the University of Rhode Island. The weekend sweep improved the team’s home record to 6-0.

After a couple of hard-fought but disappointing finishes at the ECAC Division I Indoor Championships, both the men’s and women’s tennis teams are looking to get their seasons back on track.

Over the long weekend, both teams accomplished that very goal by going undefeated. For the No. 57 women’s squad, a sweep of URI, Providence College and Bryant extended its current win streak to five matches. As for the men’s team, a dual victory over Boston College and Bryant ended its previous three-match losing streak.

Both sets of triumphs signal potential winning trajectories, but the two teams have had somewhat different paths up to this point.

Before the season began, the women’s team welcomed Assistant Coach Juancarlos Nunez. Nunez — who played tennis at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock — was the assistant coach for the UMass women’s tennis team from 2009-2015 before coming to Brown.

“He has fit in seamlessly,” said Hannah Camhi ’16. “Everyone on the team loves him, and he brings great energy to practice.”

The women’s season started off with the ITA Kick-Off weekend, an invitation the team received after finishing in a top position last season. There, they knocked off then-No. 49 Penn State and lost to the top-ranked host Vanderbilt in a tough matchup.

From there, besides the bump in the road at the Indoor Championships, it has been a mostly solid season for the Bears (8-3). A couple of victories against ranked opponents and its current winning streak have resulted in a flawless home record of 6-0.

For many on the team, the long season with many different tournaments is not new. Of the 11 women on the roster, only four are underclassmen. As a result, the team’s veterans have been called upon to use their experience to help the team as a whole.

“We get to be role models for the underclassmen, and it’s good to set an example,” Camhi said.

As for the rest of the season, the team’s main focus is on winning the Ivy League.

“We are expecting to win Ivies — there’s no doubt on our radar,” Camhi said.

Beyond that, there is hope that the Bears will finish high enough in the rankings to qualify for the NCAA tournament. But in the short term, they are looking forward to traveling to Houston to battle two tough opponents in Rice and Houston next week.

On the men’s side of things, youth is the name of the game. Like the women’s team, they also welcomed a new addition to their staff this season in Assistant Coach Jakob Klaeson. The Swede spent the last two years as head coach at the South Coast Tennis Academy and Platform Tennis at Sakonnet Golf Club.

“He has definitely provided a solid help to the team,” said co-captain Lucas Da Silveira ’16.

In contrast to the women’s team, the men’s roster is mostly composed of individuals with limited experience on College Hill. Of the nine active players, only two are upperclassmen: co-captains Greg Garcia ’17 and Da Silveira. For the underclassmen, it’s still a learning process.

“All nine guys are involved and invested in what we want,” Da Silveira said. “A lot of the guys are very open to listening to what captains or coaches have to say.”

With Da Silveira seeking another year of eligibility after sitting out last season due to injury, the team is in a position to have the same roster next season.

Looking at the near future, the hope is to beat as many ranked teams and Ivy opponents as possible over the remainder of the season. The team’s goal is to ultimately make the NCAA tournament, either this season or next.

“Everyone’s doing their best and maintaining a positive attitude,” Da Silveira said. “You don’t win an Ivy League title overnight.”

Despite coming up empty at the Indoor Championships, the Bears still sit at a modest 6-4, including a 6-1 home record. For now, they are looking ahead to their weekend clash with Elon and UNC Wilmington.