TENNIS | Tropiano Repeats Late-Match Heroics
Published: Friday, February 7, 2014
Updated: Friday, February 7, 2014 00:02
The Georgetown men’s and women’s tennis teams are amid one of their busiest weeks of the season: The men will play in three matches within the span of five days while the women prep for their first Big East match of the season Friday.
The men’s team (4-1) took on the Richmond Spiders (2-4) in Boyds, Md., on Wednesday afternoon, and walked away with an extremely close 4-3 victory.
The Hoyas began the trek to victory by taking the doubles point from the Spiders by winning two out of the three matches in equivalent scores, 6-5(6). Junior Alex Tropiano and sophomore Daniel Khanin paired up for the first time this year to win in the second doubles slot, while freshman duo Jack Murphy and Yannik Mahlangu also won in third doubles. The first doubles team, comprised of senior co-captain Casey Distaso and freshman Max Novak, fell 6-3.
Winning the doubles point was crucial for the Blue and Gray as the singles matches were played very evenly. Khanin fell at first singles in a three-set battle to Richmond’s redshirt junior Ethan Dunbar 3-6, 6-5(4), 6-3. Richmond freshman Jacob Dunbar bested junior Shane Korber at second singles with a 6-3, 6-1 result.
Head Coach Gordie Ernst had high praise for the Spider freshman after the match.
“Their new freshman [Jacob] Dunbar, the number two player who beat Korber, is very, very good,” he said.
In his fifth singles match, Mahlangu lost in straight sets but Murphy and Distaso picked up the slack, grabbing victories at fourth and third singles, respectively. Murphy’s improved to 5-0 in single matches this spring with a resounding victory, finishing off Richmond’s junior Dylan Trent 6-2, 6-1. Distaso won in straight sets as well, taking down freshman Alex Hahn 6-4, 6-1.
With the match tied at 3-3, the Hoyas’ fate was in the hands of Tropiano. The junior lost the first set 1-6, setting the stage for the potential of a disappointing result. Nonetheless, he picked up his game in the second set, taking it away in a tiebreak 6-5 (1).
“Sometimes after [losing the first set] players get a little down, even into the second set they continue to fight but also doubt themselves, and he didn’t. [Tropiano] stayed positive and believed he could win because of his great serves and great volleys,” Ernst said.
His play improved in the third set, and Tropiano clinched the match for the Hoyas when he won the third set 6-4. Astonishingly, Tropiano did the same exact thing in the Hoyas’ match against Richmond last season.
“Let me tell you, he does not have arachnophobia,” Ernst said of Tropiano’s clinch of the match against the Spiders. “In fact, Richmond might have a little ‘Trop-aphobia’ by now. The guy’s done it two years in a row.”
The Hoyas will return to the court Saturday when they travel to New Haven, Conn. to face off against Yale (1-2). Yale defeated Georgetown in the teams’ last spring season meeting in February 2009.
“We’re excited to play the Ivies,” Ernst said of the team’s anticipation for the match. “We don’t get to see them that much being here in the D.C. area, so we’re really looking forward to going up and playing Yale.”
The Hoyas have a quick turnaround and will play another match against Bryant University on Sunday. Bryant finished the fall season with a respectable 5-3 record but has struggled to a 1-3 record this spring. The Bulldogs were swept by both Dartmouth and Xavier and lost 6-1 to Binghamton. However, they did pick up a convincing 6-1 win against Villanova.
Meanwhile, the women’s team (1-5) will be staying on the Hilltop to take on St. John’s on Friday at Yates Field House. Having suffered four straight losses since Jan. 17, it’s hoping it can end its slide against the Red Storm.
“It’s a match against a good team and we’re just looking forward to it,” Ernst said of the match.
The team is particularly excited that the match will take place on the Georgetown campus.
“The girls are excited to play at home at Yates against one of our rivals,” Ernst stated. “The home matches at Yates are great. It really helps their play.”
The last matchup between Georgetown and St. John’s was an incredibly close 4-3 win for the Red Storm. Singles play preceded doubles play, and concluded with the score tied 3-3. In the end, St. John’s took two of the three doubles matches with the match point being in a tiebreaker.
“That was a great match, and I think Friday’s going to be the same,” Ernst said.
The match is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday morning.