Men’s and women’s tennis teams claim season opener wins

Cameron Tindal, Sports Writer

Both nationally ranked Patriot men’s and women’s tennis teams reigned victorious in season-opening 8-1 wins over Barton College on Saturday afternoon (Feb. 2) at the Kassab Courts.

The Patriot women were led by senior All-Americans Mona Blauen, while Alex Caspari led the way for the men. Both played huge parts in their team’s respective victories. The Patriots took 3-0 leads in both matches and swept all the doubles matches.  Blauen also managed to rack up her 49th career singles victory with a 6-0, 6-1 decision at the women’s No.1 position.

Despite the great play by Blauen and Caspari, coach Garth Thomson feels as though it was an overall team effort for the men’s and women’s teams.

“My key players for the women’s team were the whole team,” Thomson said. “Since we won 8 out of 9 matches, we displayed terrific team effort and the same could be said for the men’s tennis team.”

The Patriot women are ranked 10th nationally, while the men are 20th in the preseason poll.  Both have some hefty expectations in both the Peach Belt Conference and nationally.

Coach Thomson has set the bar high for both the men’s and women’s teams in both conference and national play.

“Our goal is to play in the Peach Belt tournament,” Thomson said. “We want to finish as high as we can in the Peach Belt Conference during the regular season and compete for an NCAA tournament spot.”

In the women’s singles matchups the Patriots dominated. Mona Blauen defeated Smiljana Kljajic 6-0, 6-1 in the first matchup. Victories by Tereza Baranova, Julia Graf, Kimberley Hurter, Kristy Lievense and Nora Westbye topped off the Patriots winning day.

The Patriots were also successful in the doubles competition starting with a victory by Mona Blauen and Julia Graf over Alicia Lasry and Lindsey Frederick 8-0. The Patriots finished the doubles competition with wins by Tereza Baranova and Nora Westbye over Smiljana Kljajic and Meredith Pruden and Kimberley Hurter and Caitlin Siney over Caroline Fischer and Francesca Del Pozo 8-1 and 8-0 respectively.

Coach Thomson was satisfied with his team’s effort, preparation, and play in the victories.

“Our women’s tennis team played very well Saturday,” Thomson said. “We were fitter and well prepared.”

Even a fan recognized the effort and execution displayed by the Patriots on Saturday afternoon.  First time game attendee Chanelle Baker elaborated.

“They just seemed so crisp in everything that they did,” Baker said. “I don’t know much about tennis and even I can see the effort and execution was at a high level.”

            The men were also successful in the singles competition starting with a victory by Alex Caspari over Max Leppert 6-1, 6-2. This was followed by victories by Rafael Ruiz Velasco, Tim Ruepke, and Arnaud Holl. Eimon Heywood and Marius Wahlier both won by way of forfeit.
            In the doubles competition the men led off with a victory by Alex Caspari and Gavin Davison over Rafael Ruiz Velasco and Max Leppert 8-4. They finished with a victory by
Eimon Heywood and Marius Wahlier and a win by Tim Ruepke/Arnaud Holl by forfeit.

            Both teams will now enter into a 5-game road trip, starting at Erskine College on Thursday at 2 p.m.

Coach Thomson is confident in his team’s preparedness for the road trip.

“We have worked hard in the weight room, running and hitting tennis balls,” Thomson said. “This should help us on the road, hopefully fitter and more prepared than our opponents. Tennis courts are the same size everywhere we play; the only differences will be the location and maybe the weather conditions. We will see how we do.”