After competing in a host of matches in Southern California over spring break, the Georgetown men’s and women’s tennis teams returned to both nonconference and conference play. The men’s squad (5-6, 1-1 Big East) downed both George Mason (5-8, 0-3 Atlantic 10) and Xavier (7-3, 0-1 Big East), while the women’s team (7-4, 0-3 Big East) also beat George Mason (3-11, 0-5 Atlantic 10) but fell to No. 70 Xavier (9-4, 1-0 Big East).
“These guys are growing up,” Head Coach Gordie Ernst said of the men’s team’s recent successes. “I’m watching them now and I’m like, ‘Wow, this is a different team from three months ago.’”
Play began for both squads in Fairfax, Va., against George Mason last Wednesday. The men’s team began strong, capturing two of the three doubles matches to notch the doubles point. The Hoya duo of junior Jordan Portner and freshman Michael Chen defeated the Patriot pair of junior James Lange and senior Joe Hill in a 6-4 finish. Hoyas junior Yannik Mahlangu and sophomore Peter Beatty also triumphed in doubles, winning decisively over Patriots senior Tanner Baine and sophomore Daniel Guttierez.
Georgetown continued its momentum from its doubles wins into singles play, going on to win four of the five matches to beat George Mason 5-2. Senior Daniel Khanin defeated George Mason senior Aaron Capitel in a 6-3, 7-6(5) finish. Sophomore Marco Lam fell in the first set of his match 4-6, but notched the second and third in identical 6-2 fashions to win in the second singles slot. Beatty and Chen also won their singles matches in the third and fourth singles slots, respectively. Georgetown freshman Will Sharton and sophomore Mac Rechnan fell in their singles matches, giving George Mason its two lone points on the day.
Mahlangu said the decisive win against George Mason is evidence of Georgetown’s high-quality performance.
“I only played doubles in that one, but the rest of the boys did really well and I think we were winning the entire time,” Mahlangu said. “We’ve been playing really well lately and I think we’ve improved a lot since the beginning of the year.”
The Hoyas’ 4-3 victory over Xavier two days later was much closer, testing the physical and mental strength of Mahlangu in particular. Georgetown again started the match by winning the doubles point, as Portner and Chen and Mahlangu and Beatty found success in the first and second doubles slots, respectively. Following doubles play, Georgetown won two singles matches — Lam winning 6-4, 6-4 in second singles and Beatty triumphing 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 in third singles — with George Mason notching three victories. This pushed the overall score to 3-3, meaning that Mahlangu had to win his singles match to grant the Hoyas victory.
He rose to the occasion, downing Musketeer senior Brian Carman swiftly in a 6-4, 6-2 finish.
“I won the deciding match and I’ve never done that since I’ve been on the team, so I was really excited,” Mahlangu said.Everyone came and rushed the court afterward so I was really happy.”
“He just said, ‘Coach thanks for putting me in, I wanted this,’” Ernst said of Mahlangu’s immediate reaction to the victory.
“That was cool because he’s had some ups and downs, some struggles, but he’s showing what his potential was when he came in as a freshman.”
The women’s squad also found victory this past week, sweeping George Mason on Wednesday in a 7-0 finish. Junior captain Victoire Saperstein and junior Madeline Foley won 6-4 in first doubles, with freshman duo Cecelia Lynham and Sydney Goodson winning 6-1 at second doubles. Sophomore Casey Marx and junior Sophie Barnard won 6-3 in their doubles match.
Saperstein, freshman Risa Nakagawa, sophomore Sara Swift, sophomore Daphne de Chatellus and Goodson all won their singles matches in straight sets, bringing the overall score of the match up to 6-0. Senior Liselot Koenen fell in the first set of her fourth singles match 3-6, but notched the second set 6-3. The final set went back and forth, but Koenen ultimately won the match and finished the Hoyas’ sweep with a 7-6(5) third set win.
Ernst said he was pleased with the result, but also surprised by the ease of victory.
“I thought it would be a stronger match,” Ernst said. “I don’t have a big frame of reference for [George Mason] because I don’t think we’ve played them once in my 10 years here. But I was expecting a tougher match.”
The women’s team went on to compete in a conference matchup against Xavier on Friday, resulting in a 5-2 loss for Georgetown. Unlike the match against the Patriots, the Hoyas began the match by losing the doubles point. Goodson and Lynham won their second doubles match 6-1, but the Musketeers notched the other two doubles contests to gain a 1-0 advantage.
Xavier also dominated singles play, which saw junior Sydney Liggins defeat Saperstein 7-5, 6-1. Nakagawa, Barnard and de Chatellus also fell in their singles matches in the second, fourth and sixth singles slots, respectively. Barnard’s loss came in a tight three-set contest, ultimately falling 4-6, 6-1, 2-6.
Swift and Lynham emerged with the sole victories on the day for Georgetown. Swift fell in her first set 1-6, but captured the second 7-5 and the third 6-4. Meanwhile, Lynham edged her opponent 7-6(6) in her first set and won the second set 6-4.
“It just shows you that doubles, losing that point … these teams that are pretty good, it’s hard to beat them. They’re a ranked team, they beat Indiana this year, they’re goo,” Ernst said. “You just can’t luck out against teams like that. You have to beat them.”
The loss to Xavier puts the women’s team at 0-3 in conference play this season. Georgetown will search for its first Big East win against Seton Hall (5-3) March 24 at the Georgetown Visitation Courts. Meanwhile, the men’s team will compete against cross-town rival George Washington (6-7, 1-0 Atlantic 10) March 25.
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