To close out the season, the Colorado College men’s tennis team flew to San Antonio for the second weekend in a row to compete in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference championships. They left Colorado on Thursday afternoon just as rain began to fall and arrived hours later in humid, 90 degree Texas heat. Seeded fifth, the Tigers faced an uphill battle against both their first opponents, and the muggy Texas weather.
The Tigers faced fourth-seeded Schreiner University in their first match on Friday afternoon. At the end of the season, Schreiner was ranked 18th in the region, on the verge of national ranking. As underdogs, the Tigers knew they had to bring their “A” game. “We had to win at least one of those doubles matches and we didn’t,” Head Coach Anthony Weber said. “We were down 0-3 right off the bat so that put a lot of pressure on the singles matches.”
Down 0-3 going into singles, Weber wondered whether the team would “roll over” and get blown out. Despite his fears, they came back and won three singles matches. The two matches they lost progressed into a decisive third set. Although they lost 6-3, the boys played hard and stepped up in unfamiliar and uncomfortable weather. “Our number one singles match went into a third set and ended up lasting about three and a half hours,” Weber said. “Noah [Forman] didn’t end up winning, but he put up a heck of a fight against a very tough player.”
Forman, who played a doubles game before his singles match, exerting himself in the heat for over five hours, became so exhausted that he couldn’t play in his singles match against Texan Lutheran University the following day.
The Tigers beat sixth seed TLU 7-2 the previous weekend, but without their star singles player, they knew it would a tough battle. First-years Logan Pepperl and Kevin Barry moved up in the ladder due to player shortage, but both won their matches with ease. These victories, in addition to a sweep in the doubles games, “turned the tide” for the Tigers. “You always wonder how a match is going to turn out after a huge emotional letdown the day before,” Weber said. “The boys bounced back and it was definitely a battle out there this weekend.”
They finished the conference matches feeling redeemed and pleased with their overall performance. Considering that CC was the only team that didn’t hail from from Texas, the Tigers felt they dealt with the tough climate well. “It was challenging [to play in that heat], especially coming from Colorado where we’ve had one or two days this spring over 70 degrees,” Weber said. “I’ve played down in that heat myself and I know what it feels like. So it did worry me a little bit.”
According to Weber, at sea level, the points tend to be longer and the matches get dragged out. That, plus the heat, creates a different experience than that of playing in Colorado. Fortunately for the Tigers, CC will host the the 2018 tennis conference. The responsibility is huge, but the team is excited to play on home courts in a familiar climate. Weber knows that the style of play at elevation is different, so Texas teams better get ready to get high.