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Tennis Dominates Week

By Robert Aronstam

STAFF WRITER

Men’s tennis won each of their four matches last week, beating Tufts, WPI, Clark, and Bowdoin. The results improve their record to 9-2 overall (2-0 NEWMAC).

The Engineers topped the Tufts Jumbos by a score of 5-2 on Tuesday. MIT claimed the doubles point by winning the number one and number two matches, both by a score of 8-4. The Engineers also took four of the six singles matches, thus securing a 5-2 victory. Marco A. Hernandez ’03, Ricardo A. Rossello ’01, and Luke D. Tomycz ’02 won their matches in straight sets, while Andrew V. Kolesnikov ’03 won his match by convincing scores in the second and third sets.

The next day, MIT blanked Worcester Polytechnic Institute, winning all nine matches.

On Saturday, MIT easily bested the Clark University squad 7-0. The team’s results were well reflected by the number six singles match. Michael H. Ogrydziak ’04 had his way against his much less experienced Clark opponent. Ogrydziak easily hit winners off both the forehand and backhand. He also cleared the court with several overhead smashes. Ogrydziak turned in a near flawless performance in no more than half an hour.

MIT edges Bowdoin

The final match of the week, on Sunday, stretched MIT to the limits of their abilities. The team members were much more serious, especially early on in the match. While joking and smiling was plentiful during the easier matches earlier in the week, the players were stoic as the Bowdoin match began.

“We’re going to have our hands full,” said Coach Jeff Hamilton, expressing the concern of the team.

The doubles matches set the tone for the afternoon. Emotions were flying. Fists were pumping. Shouts echoed off the walls of the tennis bubble.

The number one doubles match had Jeffrey P. Augustyn ’03 and Kolesnikov facing off against two worthy opponents. Both teams struggled to hold serve early in the set. MIT and Bowdoin combined for nine service breaks in the doubles set, which is awarded to the team that reached eight games first.

One of the most critical games was the ninth. MIT finally held serve in this game after there had been six consecutive service breaks. Augustyn and Kolesnikov managed to win the game through sheer effort.

In a particularly exciting sequence, a Bowdoin player lobbed over a leaping Augustyn. Kolesnikov scrambled to the backcourt and flicked a backhand lob over the net. The Bowdoin player set up for an overhead smash and slammed the ball off the very top of the net. The ball caromed off the net and went directly towards Augustyn, who reacted quickly enough to volley the ball back. The surprised opponent sent the next shot long, past the baseline.

The Augustyn/Kolesnikov duo were able to maintain this high level of play, finishing off their opponents 9-7. However, the other two MIT doubles teams lost and the doubles point was given to Bowdoin.

Augustyn began his singles match with tremendous confidence. After holding his first service game, he continued to apply pressure to his opponent. He charged the net and put away a volley, leading to a service break in the second game of the set.

For the remainder of the set, Augustyn was aggressive, preferring forceful shots to neutral shots. He took every opportunity to gain the upper hand in the rally by stepping in front of the baseline and pounding the ball past his opponent. He finished the first set easily, 6-3.

The beginning of the second set appeared to be all Augustyn as well. He opened the set with a service break. With two explosive forehand winners, he held his next service game.

However, Augustyn unexpectedly stumbled in the next few games. His unforced errors accumulated more rapidly than his winners. Additionally, his opponent generated two game-winning down-the-line winners. The frustrated Augustyn ceded the second set to his opponents 2-6.

In the third set, neither player appeared to be willing to take an advantage over the other. Augustyn stayed behind the baseline, not taking many chances in his shotmaking. In the fifth game of the set, Augustyn’s opponent opened the door by double faulting the game away. However, Augustyn was unable to seize the opportunity to serve out the set.

This tremendously “intense” match, as described by Coach Hamilton, was to be decided in a third set tiebreaker. Augustyn dominated the tiebreaker, hitting clean forehand and backhand winners. He finished the tiebreaker with a bit of scrambling that was particularly impressive because it came at the end of a long, grueling match.

The match was “the most physically demanding match of the year,” said Augustyn. “I knew that we had to win that match.”

Indeed each of MIT’s victories were required. Rossello won his number four match in straight sets, but the match lasted as long as the number one match.

“I felt that I had control of the match. My game was bothering [my opponent’s] game,” said Rossello.

MIT looks for continued success in their matches against Wheaton, Trinity, and the Coast Guard this week.