Men’s tennis team continued their unbeaten streak despite a few close calls from some of their top performers.
Winning a combined 10-2 over two days of competition, the men’s team bested both Walsh University and Hillsdale college in the opening matches on their home courts this season.
Ferris had a great start to the weekend Friday with convincing performances across the board. Starting with a clean sweep in the doubles competitions, the success carried over to the singles for the men.
The French and Swedish duo of Mathis Guerre and Jan Koupil battled from start to finish against a seasoned Walsh pairing. Guerre and Koupil struggled with some returns late in the set, but a well-placed serve by Guerre sealed the deal at 7-6.
“All teams that Mathis and I have played during the beginning of season have been very good,” Koupil said. “Playing one set of doubles goes by very fast and a couple of key points can decide the outcome of the match. Because of this we have made sure to start and play the matches with high energy and intensity.”
Finishing right before them was junior, Yannic Alexander Mader and senior, Ayush Deswal. With a final of 6-4, this pairing maintained a strong offensive attack which forced several out of bound returns.
Senior Josh McDermott and sophomore Benjamin Lortie rounded out the final pairings. From start to finish it was all Bulldogs. Their dominant 6-0 performance gave the team a great start to open season play at home.
“I was very impressed with the start we got in doubles,” head coach Mark Doren said. “Our pairings moved together very well on the court.”
In singles, the team looked to stay aggressive. Ferris’s top singles player is Guerre, and he fell short 7-5 and 6-3 to Jakob Riglewski. Despite his loss, the energy on the first court did not disappoint with both players exchanging yells after big points and volleys.
On court two, Mader went the distance with Luis Hernandez. He would ultimately fall in the third set, 7-5. But he took Saturday as a chance to learn and improve from his mistakes.
“I wasn’t too happy with my return on Friday, so I went through different positions and approaches for the return,” Mader said. “I also noticed that I was a little slower on my feet during rallies, therefore I was trying to keep me feet active and be ready for the next ball, rather than wait for it.”
Koupil got the Bulldogs back on track by mustering up 2 decisive set wins, 6-2 and 6-0. Koupil controlled the game by keeping the Walsh defender on his toes after the serves.
The sophomore, Lortie, spear headed the bottom 3 for the Bulldogs in Friday’s regional match. He beat his opponent 6-1 and 6-2, picking up a crucial point to help the team.
The Canadian freshman, Alessandro Santangelo, came out swinging in his first 6 sets. But despite his decisive first half, Pedro Campos of Walsh made Santangelo work a little harder for the second one with a 6-4 win.
Josh McDermott sealed the deal for the men’s squad after flipping the first two sets. The senior New Zealander made sure to make no mistakes in the final set, capping off the matches with a 10-5 victory.
“They all know their success contributes to the team’s success, and that was very true with the bottom of our lineup playing very strong,” Doren said.
The bottom 4 of the Bulldog roster proved to be the deciding factor in the Friday matches. They anchored the men to a 5-2 final, gaining a boost of momentum to finish the weekend.
On Sunday, dominant performances across the board propelled the team into a five game win streak and keeping their perfect record so far in the regular season.
Due to a diminished Hillsdale squad, some Bulldogs weren’t able to see any action. However, the lack of opponents didn’t stop any momentum that the team had in doubles from two days before.
Once again, Guerre and Koupil secured a point for the Bulldogs, defeating the Charger duo 6-3. Some well-placed returns and skillful serves put the two in the driver’s seat, securing the first point.
The ability of the first pair to bounce back after the tough sets is one of the big reasons why they’ve been able to find such success on the first court.
Out of the last two double’s pairs, only one saw action. McDermott and Lortie took to court two, matching the dominance shown by the men on court 1. They finished their opening match with a convincing 6-2 score. Mader and Deswal fell victim to the depleted roster of Hillsdale, not seeing any action in doubles.
In singles play, only five Hillsdale players matched the men of Ferris. McDermott won by default since he faced no opponent, then Santangelo’s match against Hillsdale’s Sam Clyde went unfinished.
For the Bulldogs that did see action, Guerre started the singles action with an impressive pair of 6-2 and 6-0 wins.
The #2 for the Bulldogs put up a convincing 6-1 win in the first set, but Mader couldn’t finish the match because Ferris clinched the match mid set thanks to Benjamin Lortie. Lortie won in two sets, finishing 6-1 and 6-0.
Despite not finishing his match, Mader was pleased with the improvements of his game from just two days before.
“Another goal of mine was to keep my return rate high as well,” Mader said. “I struggled with returns on Friday and gave a lot of free points to the opponent, which I did not want to repeat on Sunday.”
“Hillsdale was down a couple players due to injury, but that didn’t stop our team from staying focused on the plan and executing extremely well,” Coach Doren said.
The weekend sweep gave the team added confidence as they near the start of conference action in less than a month. With strong teams, and tough upcoming tournaments, the men look to improve each day they step onto the court.
The Bulldogs will stay in Big Rapids for one more weekend as they host Grace College on Sunday, Feb. 27 at 10 am. Then they will prepare to travel to Orlando, Florida in just two weeks.