Tennis | Mahlangu, Saperstein Win Brackets

 FILE PHOTO: JULIA HENNRIKUS/THE HOYA Junior Jordan Portner (above), along with partner Peter Beatty, fought through three rounds of intensive competition to reach the finals, before falling to GW.

Junior Jordan Portner (above), along with partner Peter Beatty, fought through three rounds of intensive competition to reach the finals, before falling to GW.

The Georgetown men’s and women’s tennis teams split last weekend to play separate tournaments, with the men heading to the Joe Hunt Invitational at Navy while the women travelled to Boulder, Colo. to compete in the University of Colorado Fall Invite. Both teams rolled into the weekend’s competition with momentum after sweeping the University of D.C. teams in a collective 18-0 finish last week in the season openers.

The women landed in Colorado to take on the heat, high altitude and several tough Pac-12 tennis programs. Though the new team is still in its early stages, Head Coach Gordie Ernst reflected positively on the experience and its significance for the team moving forward.

“I thought they handled it beautifully. We got in the night before at midnight and had to play the next day in high altitude, so we struggled at first, but we got it together the next day and had some good wins. The whole idea of a trip like that is that it’s great team bonding: playing a ton of competition in less than ideal conditions — it’s high altitude, it’s really hot and sunny — I think it’ll just make them tougher as the year goes on,” Ernst said.

The women faced high-quality competition in matchups against larger programs such as Colorado, New Mexico and Colorado State. Junior Victoire Saperstein showed her experience and grit, reaching the finals of the tournament’s gold draw consolation bracket where she defeated Colorado State senior Laia Hernandez Soler in a 6-3, 6-2 finish.

Freshman Sydney Goodson exemplified the Hoyas’ strong new talent. She played hard through the Ralphie draw, winning a tough match against teammate and sophomore Sara Swift 6-2, 6-2. She produced a strong performance in the tournament’s black draw as well where she eventually fell to Colorado’s Nuria Ormeno Ruiz 6-1, 6-1.

“I don’t think we played our best, but we’re not ready yet. We’re still in the infant stages of the year but you look at some of my freshman like Sydney Goodson. … She won some tough matches and battled it out. She didn’t play her best, but found a way to win and when you see your freshmen do stuff like that it makes you really happy,” Ernst said. “Victoire … and [junior] Sophie Barnard just played so much tennis and so many matches, they won some good ones as well to show that they’re ready to go for the year.”

The men’s team headed to Maryland where it produced a gutsy performance despite being without two players due to sickness. Its bracket included George Washington, Delaware, George Mason, Mary Washington, Maryland, Morgan State, University of the Redlands, Saint Bonaventure, Temple, Army West Point and host Navy.

“It was pretty clear that once again GW has some real studs in this region and [University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s] number one guy as well. We did fine against everyone else except those guys, I think we did as expected,” Ernst said.

Despite the difficult competition and untimely illness, there were moments of brilliance. Junior Yannik Mahlangu battled through the competition to win the Flight D tournament, impressively doing so without dropping a single set. His closest match of the tournament was the hard-fought championship match in which he edged Delaware senior Tim Puterio 6-4, 6-4.

The other bright spot of the weekend’s events for the men was reaching the finals of the Flight A doubles tournament — a charge led by junior Jordan Portner and sophomore Peter Beatty. They fought through three rounds of intense competition to reach the finals where they were ultimately bested by George Washington’s leading duo.

Looking ahead, the men head to the Princeton Invite on Oct. 9. The women will compete at the Cissie Leary Memorial Tournament in Philadelphia on Oct. 2.

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