March 25, 2008

Tennis Washed Away in Florida

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The scouts and rankings warn about taking on Florida’s tennis teams. Unfortunately, the men’s tennis team threw caution to the winds and traveled south to play No. 31 South Florida and Central Florida over spring break. Alas, the experts proved correct as the Red was handled, 7-0, in both matches.
The trip started innocently enough. South Florida had won its last 10 matches, ripping through opponents like Blackberry-ans through text messages. Led by No.1 singles player Lucas Jovita, who is currently ranked No. 81 in the nation, South Florida certainly seemed to be the Goliath in this matchup.
“We went into it pretty confident that we would hold our own,” said freshman Jeremy Feldman. “…you can’t think about rankings or streaks that happened beforehand, all you can do is focus on the game that’s being played today.”
The match was closer than meets the eye, naturally. Feldman was tied after two sets at No. 6 singles, only losing out on a heartbreaking tiebreaker that left the Red supporters on hand weeping openly. Fellow freshman Jonathan Jaklitsch also played a close game at No. 3 singles.
On Friday, the team traveled to Central Florida to try their luck against the 7-6 Knights. The result was devastatingly familiar. Junior Joshua Goldstein won his first set at No. 2 singles before finally dropping the closely contested match to Johan Beigart, with the rest of the Red finding little success underneath the scorching Florida sun.
“It was our first match outside, so you’re dealing with a different surface,” said freshman Mirza Klis. “…we have been playing indoors for most of the season, and while that’s no excuse for losing, it’s certainly an adjustment we’ll have to make and be more comfortable with as the season goes on.”
All is not lost for the Red, however. Though these two losses drops the team to 5-7 overall, it now returns home for a four game stretch that pits the team against conference rivals Columbia, Harvard, and Dartmouth, matches that Goldstein describes as “definitely winnable”. Success from here on out is a must, as only eight games remain before the season’s end.