Written by Coby Dodelson
Occasionally in sports, when David meets Goliath, the favorite comes out lackadaisical and the underdog pulls out the victory solely because of their desire to win. This was not the case when the CC men’s tennis team played Northern Colorado University, a Division I team, on Saturday at the Butler-Hancock Tennis Courts in Greeley, Colo.
UNC pounced on the Tigers early as they breezed through the three doubles matches, all by a 6-1 score. CC could not build any momentum in these matches, and UNC consistently won volleys, dominating plays at the net. Head Coach Anthony Weber commented on this slow start by the Tigers after the game: “In doubles, we made first serves and returns, which usually puts you in a good position, but they were much stronger than we are,” he said.
The concern Weber has over the team’s struggles in doubles matches is shared by many of his players. “I believe we can improve a lot in our doubles,” said sophomore Christian Kitchen. Sophomore Daniel Holland reiterated this; saying, “We could definitely use a lot of work in doubles—closing points out and making serves,” he said.
UNC carried their wave of momentum into singles play where they won all six matches, five of which were ended in straight sets. Within this blowout was a promising performance by a young star on the Tiger’s roster.
When CC first-year Noah Forman began his singles match, the outcome was all-but decided in UNC’s favor; it was clear that the Bears were simply too talented for the Tigers. An inevitable blowout was on the horizon for CC, and the team looked increasingly submissive to this result as the day wore on. Nevertheless, there was no quit in Forman. He stepped up to the challenge with confidence and won the first set 6-4. Forman’s opponent, the supremely talented and experienced UNC junior, ultimately won a 10-point tiebreaker 10-7. Forman’s victory in the first set of his match was the only set taken by the Tigers in all six singles matches.
As a result, Forman’s performance was met with widespread praise by his teammates and coaches. “I was very impressed with Noah,” senior Jason Gutierrez said. “He played a close match against a great player.”
Even though the Tigers hoped for a better outcome going into this matchup, the team was realistic about their chances for success. “This match was a tough one considering that it was against a DI school, and arguably the best team we’ll play all year,” Forman said. He thought this gave the Tigers a pessimistic mindset, assuming defeat heading into the match.
This blowout left a sour taste in the mouths of the Tigers squad, but their understanding that the odds were stacked against them allowed them to learn from this experience. Playing a team of UNC’s caliber showed the Tigers what aspects of their game need the most improvement. “This match was not just about results for us,” Gutierrez said. “Obviously we wanted to win, but more importantly, we are trying to find ways to keep improving, and playing DI teams enables us to do that.”
The Tigers’ greatest flaws were exposed during doubles play, where they were unable to effectively close points out and make serves. Only time will tell if CC can improve upon these weaknesses.