As the first days of crisp fall air set in on the Hilltop, the men’s tennis team looked to rebound from a disappointing trip to Virginia at their home tournament, the Georgetown Classic. By noon on Friday, they had already done just that, with senior captain Adam Gross recording a dominating 6-0, 6-4 win over Howard University’s George Diggs.

The men’s play steadily improved from there, as graduate student Ned Samuelson and freshman Mieszko Tomczyk each delivered straight-set victories.

The other Hoyas fought strong, as freshman Andrew Bruhn, playing with a cast on his left arm, forcing him to abandon his overpowering two-handed backhand for a far more awkward one-hander, played to a 5-7, 6-7 loss. Head Coach Gordie Ernst said being “comfortable while being uncomfortable” is one of the greatest challenges in tennis.

Bruhn teamed up with Tomczyk in doubles, losing a tight 9-7 quarterfinal contest, as a few big points separated them from having a win over a No. 1 doubles team and the eventual finalists. Tomczyk also posted a quarterfinal result, losing to the eventual singles finalist, Ugur Atalay of George Washington. Ernst said that he sees great potential in both freshmen as “they learn how to use their frame and their size.” Ernst added that all they need is some time and experience.

The strong play from team veterans continued as the tournament progressed. Gross continued through his matches rather easily, grinding away opponents from the baseline while seizing upon opportunities to move forward.

He was able to “exact some revenge,” as Ernst said, upon the No. 2 singles player from George Washington, Erik Hannah, who beat Gross in straight sets at last year’s match. Unfortunately, Gross’ run ended in the quarterfinals as he ran into the eventual champion, Freddi Voorman of the University of Maryland at Baltimore County.

In contrast to the relatively smooth path Gross took to the final, junior Dave Tillem battled through several three-set matches, twice rallying from a set down, to make a run to the semifinals, the best result of any Hoya. He overcame a poor first set in his opening singles match to storm back and win 2-6, 6-0, 6-2. He was then forced to rally from 1-4 down in the third set of his second singles match. Ernst pointed to Tillem as a perfect example of what the team needs to be able to do consistently.

“Dave [Tillem] went to work and competed,” Ernst said. “He constantly found a way to win when he was down.”

Displaying his resilience yet again, Tillem rallied from a set and a break in each of the two subsequent sets to win 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, booking a spot in the final four.

Unfortunately, his run came to an end. Having played more hours than anyone else in the tournament, Tillem fell in a 6-3, 6-3 loss to Atalay, who had previously eliminated Tomczyk.

Women’s Tennis

On the women’s side, Michelle Brown provided one of the true highlights of the women’s season thus far, finishing third at the University of Maryland tournament. Entered into the class-A singles bracket, she was barely expected to make the second round, let alone battle her way to third place.

After being down early in her first two matches, Brown fought her way into the quarterfinals, where she had a much easier 6-3, 7-5 win. Unfortunately, she was unable to sustain the momentum and fell in a third-set tiebreaker, 10-6. She grabbed third place by recording a 6-0 set before her opponent retired.

“[This] was one of the greatest fall performances for a women’s tennis player in a long, long time,” Ernst said. “This sweet, quiet and humble girl made a name for herself and the Hoyas at this tournament.”

In spite of not walking away with a title at either tournament, Ernst was elated with the results.

“There has been great progression by both teams, men and women,” he said. “They are getting back to midseason form. They are not there yet, but there has been considerable improvement.”

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