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Men's Tennis Now Standing at 1-2

By Daniel Wang
Team Member

After a week of matches, the men's tennis team stands at 12 in its record so far this season. The season started off with a 6.50.5 win over Clark University, followed by a 70 loss to Boston University last Thursday and a disappointing 52 loss to Wesleyan University on Saturday. The last two dual meets were played at home.

The day before the Wesleyan match saw heavy rains. The outdoor courts barely dried in time to have the match held outdoors, but the threatening weather conditions continued, causing the singles games to be played before the doubles, a departure from the normal format.

The team went into the match with high hopes as the opponents had lost many of their top players, including Tom Riefenheiser, once the top Division III singles player in the nation. However, a win was not meant to be for MIT, as Wesleyan decided the dual meet in the singles. (Under the new format, the three doubles games combined count for only one team point.)

Wesleyan went on the board first, as fourth and fifth singles players Hank Lin '97 and Rob Marcato '97 both lost in straight sets, with scores of 64, 61, and 62, 63, respectively. First singles player Jason Weintraub '97 came back from a disastrous first set, but fell short, 61, 76.

Soon after Weintraub's match, the Engineers responded with two points. Geoff Lanyon '98, at the second position, fought a tough opponent for a 75, 64 win. Immediately below Lanyon, Dan Wang '97 had to struggle, but captured a 64, 62 win.

With Wesleyan leading 32, MIT's hopes rested on sixth singles player Surya Ganguli '97 to stay in the match. After losing the first set and falling behind 50 in the second, Ganguli fought back. He pulled to as close as 54, but lost the final game. With that point, Wesleyan had already clinched the team victory.

Although the doubles matches would not have affected the final team decision, the Engineers hoped to cut down the margin of defeat. The top two doubles teams lead at one point in their matches, but ended up losing.

At first doubles, Lanyon and Wang squandered leads of 30 and 54 to finish with an 85 loss. In doubles, the serving side often dominates the play; on this day, unfortunately, the MIT pair lost their last two service games.

The second doubles team of Ganguli and Weintraub remained close with their opponents, remaining on serve. It started raining after the first doubles match, but not before the end of the second doubles match.

The match was moved indoors, which did not seem to make too much of a difference. The final decision went to a tiebreaker, where the verdict rested on a matter of a few points. In the end, the Wesleyan pair came out on top, winning, 98 (97).

Opening home loss to BU

The team faced its first true test against Boston University. Although BU was a Division I team, its lineup was considerably weaker than those in the past. Coach Jeff Hamilton hoped that the Engineers could exploit this fact.

Many of the matches were close, but none of the MIT players were able to emerge victorious. First in the doubles, the top pair of Wang and Lanyon lost by a difference of one service break. The third doubles team of Lin and Marcato held the lead through most of their match, but ended up losing in a 74 tiebreaker, 98.

The Engineers hoped to improve their performance in the singles to offset the 10 team deficit, and often looked that way. The best opportunity came at fifth singles, where Marcato served-and-volleyed his way to a match point in the third set, but could not convert. His opponent then turned up the intensity to capture the win at 75 in the third set.

Lanyon also took his opponent to three sets, battling back from losing the first set to take the second set. In the third, however, his opponent picked up steam and emerged victorious, 64, 26, 61. Despite coming up short, Weintraub at first and Wang at third played their opponents tough, with scores of 64, 63, and 75, 63, respectively.

Easy opening win over Clark

The Engineers opened up last Monday on a positive note with an easy win over Clark University. After capturing all three doubles matches, none of the bottom four singles players lost more than four games in their individual matches.

Such performances fortunately secured the team win, as the top two MIT players, Lanyon at first, and Wang at second, struggled with their opponents.

Lanyon, in his first intercollegiate match, had much trouble early on, but was able to overcome his problems, prevailing, 75, 63. Meanwhile, Wang fell behind in both sets. He was able to come back to win the first set, 64, but then lost the second, 63. The match was then suspended due to darkness; the resulting draw awarded half a point to both teams.

The team will play its next dual meet tomorrow at home against Babson College in an important Division III contest. For the top singles players and doubles team, the match will also serve as further preparation for Rolex New England Division III Tennis Championships this weekend, also at MIT.

For the Engineers, this year's players will have big shoes to fill given the team's enormous success in past years. MIT has produced the last three doubles champions, as well as having a singles players reach the semifinals or farther. All of the players who did so have since graduated. Although things may change this year, expectations still remain high for the Engineers.