After a nearly three-month hiatus from competitive play, both the Georgetown men’s and women’s tennis teams kick off their spring campaigns in a series of matches this weekend.
Both teams begin the weekend against Drexel University on Friday in Philadelphia, followed by a quick turnaround for the men’s team as it plays against the University of Pennsylvania the following day.
“It’s good for them, especially playing Penn on Saturday, which is a rivalry for us,” Head Coach Gordie Ernst said of the team’s upcoming matches. “We’ve lost to them 4-3 three times since I’ve been here. They’re good though, so it’ll be interesting.”
The last time either of the teams entered competitive play was at the beginning of November, when the women traveled to California for the Jack Kramer Invitational and the men played in the Navy Invitational in Annapolis, Md.
The Jack Kramer Invitational was an individual tournament in which several Georgetown athletes notched impressive wins. Sophomore Sydney Goodson defeated the tournament’s No. 3 seed in the Round of 32 in a 7-5, 6-1 finish. Goodson fell in the Round of 16 but advanced the furthest out of all of the Hoyas. Sophomore Risa Nakagawa, junior Sara Swift and senior Victoire Saperstein won matches at the invitational. Meanwhile, junior Mac Rechan and freshman Ian Witmer won their flights at the Navy Invitational, while junior Marco Lam tallied a 2-1 record on the weekend.
Both the Drexel men’s team (2-0 Colonial Athletic Association) and women’s team (3-0 Colonial Athletic Association) are coming off strong showings in recent weeks. The men’s side defeated St. Francis (2-3 Northeast) and La Salle (2-2 Atlantic 10) on Jan. 21 by 4-0 and 5-1, respectively. The Drexel women’s team also rides momentum heading into its matchup against Georgetown. Most recently, Drexel downed Fordham (1-1 Atlantic 10) in a 6-1 decision. Like the men’s team, the women’s side also captured victories over St. Francis (0-3 Northeast) and La Salle (0-2 Atlantic 10).
“We’ve had some of the best practices this week, meaning that they’re ready,” Ernst said of the women’s team’s preparation for its match against Drexel. “I always compare them to January in previous years and . . . we’ve never had girls playing this well at this time of year.”
Following its matchup against Drexel, the men’s team will challenge the University of Pennsylvania (2-1 Ivy League). Most recently, the Quakers fell in a 6-1 decision to the Vanderbilt Commodores (5-1 Southeastern) on Jan. 22. Previously, the University of Pennsylvania defeated Middle Tennessee State University (2-2 C USA).
In preliminary spring play, Georgetown is set to embark on its goal to become as competitive a team as possible before the Big East tournament. The men’s team finished last season with an 11-9 record, boasting a 2-1 record in conference play. However, the team struggled at the Big East Championship Tournament last year, falling in the first round to Xavier (0-1 Big East) in a 4-0 decision.
The women’s team had one of its most impressive seasons in recent history, tallying a 15-5 regular season record and 2-3 Big East record. The team defeated No. 5 seed Marquette in a 4-1 finish but lost to top seed DePaul 4-0 last spring at the Big East Championship Tournament in Cayce, S.C.
This season, each team welcomes a handful of new athletes from a variety of different backgrounds. The women’s team brought on freshman and Michigan native Anna Short while also welcoming University of San Diego transfer junior Drew Spinosa. At USD, Spinosa tied for the most singles wins in her sophomore season, claiming 11 victories.
The men’s team, on the other hand, added freshman and Florida native Ian Witmer. This season, the Hoyas’ roster is dominated by upperclassmen, with 10 of 13 roster spots being occupied by junior and seniors.
Since Georgetown only had one key athlete graduate on the men’s side, Daniel Khanin (SFS ’16), its team is relatively intact. Similarly, the women’s team only lost two athletes — Liselot Koenen (NHS ’16) and Mimi Lynham (COL ’16), the older sister of current sophomore Cecilia Lynham. Khanin, Koenen and Lynham played integral roles in the success of Georgetown’s program, but the identical nature of both teams’ rosters puts the Hoyas in a favorable position.
“It’ll definitely help us,” Ernst said. “They’ve been there. The nerve portion of this time of year, they’ve done it.”
Following Georgetown’s matches this weekend, the men will faceoff against Boston College (0-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) on Feb. 4, while the women will compete against Harvard (0-2 Ivy League) on Feb. 5.
“This is a time of year, remember, this isn’t the Big East tournament, this is all stuff getting us ready for it,” Ernst said in reference to early season play. “It is all great experience.”
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