In the final tournament of the fall season, men’s tennis got a taste of the tough competition it will have to face when regular season play starts in January.
Seniors Mansur Gishkaev and Filip Rams and junior Kacper Rams were the only players to suit up for the Owls in the regional Intercollegiate Tennis Association Tournament. They went up against some of the top competition in the region in William and Mary, Old Dominion, Maryland and Virginia.
Kacper won his first match of the tournament against William and Mary’s freshman Charlie Ghriskey, 6-3, 6-3. In his second round matchup, Kacper’s opponent was Virginia’s senior Steven Rooda, who was No. 80 in singles last season. Rooda won the first set, 6-2, but needed a tiebreaker in the second set to defeat Kacper, 6-2, 7-6 (4).
“I felt that if [Kacper] won that tiebreaker, he would have gone on to win that set,” coach Steve Mauro said. “I am really happy about Kacper and his play.”
Kacper’s older brother Filip took care of business in the first round, as he defeated Georgetown’s senior Andrew Bruhn, 6-0, 6-3.
However, Filip would run into trouble with his next opponent, VCU’s top player sophomore Alexis Huegas. In a tightly contested matchup, Filip dropped the first set, 6-4.
Before the start of the second set, Filip slipped on the court and sprained his ankle. It was clear that he had suffered some sort of injury as he had trouble running up and down the court, but he continued to play. Huegas would go on to win the match, 6-4, 6-0.
The Rams brothers also competed in the doubles portion of the tournament. They breezed through the first round against Navy’s freshman Calvin Mark and senior Marcus Rebersak (8-3).
In the second round, they took on Maryland’s senior Maros Horny and junior John Collins, the No. 1 ranked duo in the tournament.
The Rams brothers gave Horny and Collins, who are ranked No. 9 in the nation, all they could handle as the Owls matched the Terrapins point-for-point. At one moment, the Rams brothers had match point, but they were unable to get the decisive point. In the end, the Rams brothers’ inability to close out the match proved costly as they were unable to pull off the upset as Horny and Collins pulled out a narrow 9-7 victory.
Even though the Rams brothers were unable to get past the second round in any of their match-ups, they held their own against some of the best players not only in the region, but the nation.
In the past the Owls played scheduled matches with Division III opponents, but Mauro changed that aspect. Now, the Owls opponents are schools that are nationally ranked, which is one of the reasons why Mauro has been successful in taking over a sub-.500 program.
Gishkaev had an uneven performance in the tournament as he dropped his first round match against Navy’s freshman Blake Daniel, 2-6, 6-3 and 7-5.
Despite the early exit, Mauro thought that Gishkaev played well enough to win, but he lost his patience during the match, as he tried to lob too many shots through the net.
“Gishkaev played very well,” Mauro said. “I felt like his shot selection was little off, but he played a very tough opponent in the first round.”
In a consolation match, Gishkaev fell to Georgetown’s junior Charlie Carls, 7-6, 6-3.
Now, the Owls wait for regular season play to start, as they go in with experience having played some of the best schools in their respective conference.
Brian Kim can be reached at email@example.com.