Men’s tennis disappoints in opening matches

The team prepares for its home opener and a challenging season ahead

Contributing Writer
Friday, February 1, 2013

The men’s tennis team started its spring season with a disappointing weekend trip to Hanover for the Dartmouth Kickoff Classic, falling to Clemson University and Purdue University in the team tournament.

The No. 51 Bears (0-2) lost 4-0 to the No. 61 Tigers on Saturday, with the duo of Michael Riechmann ’15 and Michael Hill ’13 picking up the lone match victory at the No. 2 doubles match. The following day against the Boilermakers yielded better results in the singles matches, as William Spector ’15 and Sam Fife ’14 posted wins at the No. 3 and No. 4 positions. But it was a repeat of Saturday’s struggles in the doubles matches, as the second straight victory for Riechmann and Hill could not stop  Purdue, who consequently won the fixture 4-2.

“Some of the guys expected to win. We were favored on paper,” said captain Soufiane Azargui ’14 referring to the Bears’ superior NCAA ranking. He added that the rankings did not reflect the opponents’ actual skill levels.

Members of the team were back on campus by Jan. 14 for pre-season training, though a number of players who live in the northeast got together over break to get a head start, Azargui said. Other players trained at home —  some with former coaches — before returning to Brown.

“Our goal this season is to get the highest possible ranking and finish in the top 48,” Azargui said.

The top 48 NCAA-ranked teams qualify for the season-ending NCAA tournament outright, whereas conference champions are awarded wildcard berths. Azargui added that the Bears have more of an opportunity to gather momentum and improve their ranking since they are playing higher-ranked teams more often this year.

“It’s a good learning experience for us. The most important part of our season is definitely the Ivy League tournament,” said David Neff ’14. “So when it comes to close matches in March and April, we want to be prepared.”

If the Bears fail to finish in the top 48, they will have to win the Ivy League to book a ticket to the NCAA tournament. The team will have a chance to bounce back from last weekend’s disappointment, as it plays its home-openers Saturday against Binghamton University and Quinnipiac University.

“Its tough to come out with two losses to start the season,” Neff said. “Everyone’s coming to beat us — especially at home — since we moved up the rankings, so we’re going to be prepared.”

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