Hosting the conference tournament last weekend, the men’s and women’s tennis teams both placed fourth in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference. The women stayed true to their fourth seeding entering the tournament, and the men surpassed their fifth seeding.
The women had a strong first match against Texas Lutheran, dominating in a 5–0 win. The victory was led by junior Adela Burak, who went 6–2, 6–2 in the No. 1 matchup. Burak paired up with sophomore Jenna McDonald to dominate their doubles showing at 8–4.
The second matchup was not nearly as smooth, as the result was flipped, with Trinity University shutting out our Tigers. Sole wins for the Tigers came from sophomore Caroline James and junior Annie Zlevor.
The third place match was the most enthralling for the Tigers, as the hosts were edged by Austin College, 5–4. The Tigers won their top two doubles matches, but went 2–4 in singles. Despite the two-loss finish, the Tigers are still satisfied with their performance.
“Hosting conference was a great way to end the season,” Burak said. “We all showed up, gave it our all, and exuded positive energy and confidence whether we were winning or losing. I am very proud of my teammates’ ability to remain determined throughout the weekend while maintaining such a cool disposition.”
Reflecting upon the season and putting aside statistics, Burak was happy with how the team conducted themselves. “Overall as a team, I feel like we had a great season,” Burak said. “Not looking at our record, but at our attitudes on and off the court, we can all agree the season was filled with hard work, commitment, and lots of smiles.”
The men fared similarly but didn’t experience as many blowouts as the women did. The men won 5–4 behind five singles wins and two doubles victories. Sophomore Noah Forman led the way in singles, and the top winners in doubles were junior Christian Kitchen and senior Brian Chen. It was an overall domination for the Tigers, but the team didn’t have much time to celebrate with top-seeded Southwestern up next.
Although the team couldn’t quite take down the Pirates, they put up a strong fight, with a final score of 3–5. Winners in singles were first-year Alex Kley and sophomore Logan Pepperl. Forman and first-year Sam Hum won the No. 1 doubles match 9–7. With a full match time of 3 hours and 52 minutes, the Tigers were really able to stick with the best.
The third place game would find the Tigers in a similar fate, as the men took another close loss, this time to Austin College. The singles were split between the teams, but Austin took two of three in the doubles and walked away with third place. Despite a great showing, the Tigers are hungry for more.
“I think the team feels bittersweet about the season,” Forman said. “I think we were super happy that we played well and had some awesome moments in front of a home crowd at conference. But at the same time, we are a talented team and were so close to pulling out some upsets. It leaves me optimistic looking forward because it shows we can hang with any team.”
Despite not achieving the clout of a top three finish, the team still has a good feeling about the whole season.
“Personally, I am so proud to be a part of this team and loved how much heart each member put into the conference tournament,” Forman said. “In retrospect, I think we could have really pulled off some upsets and cemented ourselves in the top three in conference. But I also feel as though we really competed, met the challenges in front of us, and played well overall.”
Forman is looking forward to the upcoming season and how he expects to improve. “Next year I think the team will be looking to further improve our doubles,” Forman said. “We made big strides in our doubles play this year as compared to last, and we recognize that winning early doubles matches will really help us pull out some of the close matches we’ll face moving forward.”
In a reflective mood, each No. 1 for their squad felt good about their season.Burak knows that the team grew from hosting conference, as well as another whole season of experience they now have.
“Although our season brought many ups and downs, the whole team managed to turn each experience into a learning one,” she said. “Enthusiasm and commitment were both needed to end this season on a positive note-we embodied these qualities as a team and the result exceeded our expectations.”
Forman is just thankful for his teammates and how much they inspire him. “Every year I think to myself that I couldn’t ask for a better group of people to call my team,” he said. “I value and appreciate each member tremendously and am inspired by how much heart and determination they all show. Our team chemistry is awesome, with team dinners almost every night and an incredibly supportive environment. It makes me proud to represent my school and very optimistic for future years since we’ve got so many people returning- we’re only graduating one senior.”
Congratulations to the Tigers on a great end to their season!