The 22nd-ranked MIT men’s tennis team fell to unranked Colby College 7–2 in Sunday’s dual match. Thomas H. Dohlman ’07 earned a point for the Engineers at first singles, while the second doubles team of Peden P. Nichols ’09 and Mark D. Egan ’07 recorded the lone doubles win.
Warm-ups began with an eerie quietness — the only sounds to be heard were the thrum of the fan and the thwack of serves being pounded. After warm-ups were over, the coaches introduced the players one by one. Oddly enough, the coaches also announced the players’ weights, almost as if they were checking in for a wrestling competition instead of a tennis match.
The doubles matches initially looked promising for MIT (3–2), as Dohlman opened the competition with a service winner, leading to an easy MIT hold. Looking down the three doubles courts, the scorecards soon all read 1–0 in favor of MIT. Unfortunately, it was the last time the first and third doubles teams would lead against Colby (2–0).
The first doubles team of Dohlman and Eric A. Beren ’08 fell down a break after Beren just missed a volley into the top of the net. That became the theme of the day for the team — both players would smack authoritative shots, only to miss the weak floaters their opponents returned. The two never recovered, eventually losing 8–4.
This was a sentiment echoed by the third doubles team, comprised of David E. Iba ’09 and Melvin C. Makhni ’07. Despite solid opportunities to convert break points, the players were unable to capitalize on these chances and also fell 8–4.
Nichols and Egan fared better than their teammates in the second doubles match, dominating from the outset. Through tireless hustle and patience in setting up points, the pair executed textbook doubles strategy to win the pro set 8–5.
During the singles matches, the atmosphere in the tennis bubble came alive — spectators showed up for the first time, and quiet chatter broke out along the sidelines. Even the players and coaches got into the act; in particular, one vociferous Colby supporter yelled, “Yeah, Colby!” at least 50 times throughout the four-hour affair.
Dohlman continued his run of strong serving in his No. 1 singles match. Coupled with an excellent return game, he broke twice for an insurmountable 4–0 lead. He eventually won the uncontested set 6–2, but the second set proved much closer.
Opponent Brody Saunders took a two-game lead, but a shout from the sidelines to “keep the pressure on” spurred Dohlman to force a tiebreaker that he eventually won 7–4.
Beren and Peden also played great matches, although their efforts resulted in tight losses. Both players were like boomerangs that simply refused to go away: when Peden trailed 5–2 in both sets, he fought his way back to 5–4 before succumbing to Tim Futiriman’s pressure by a score of 6–4, 6–4 in No. 4 singles. Beren displayed a similar fighting attitude, clawing his way back from a 4-5 deficit in the second set to lead 6-5. Ultimately, the two No. 2 singles players became deadlocked in a tiebreaker that ended in favor of the Mules’ Bryn Brown, making the final match score 6–3, 7–6.
Egan was not so fortunate, as he was clearly unable to find his comfort zone against a worthy adversary, Zach Schuman, in third singles. Despite a steady cadence to his play in doubles, he was unable to find his rhythm in singles, losing 6–0, 6–1.
In No. 6 singles, Michael R. Price ’08 lofted a beautiful lob in the second game to break back to 1–1, but the shot cost him his racquet strings. After replacing the broken racquet, he lost by a score of 6–4, 6–3 to Tom Gildersleeve. Manuel L. Rivera ’10 had a similar result in fifth singles, except without the broken strings — he ended up on the wrong side of a 7–5, 6–1 defeat.
The Tech men return to competition against Tufts University on Friday, March 16 at 5:00 p.m.