The College of Wooster men’s and women’s tennis teams traveled to Indianapolis, Ind. last weekend, April 25, 26 and 27 to compete in the 2019 North Coast Atlantic Conference Championships.
Both teams were seeded sixth going into the NCAC tournament and both ended up finishing higher than their original seed. Sarah Duran ’21 was asked about what her favorite team moment was, leading up to the Conference tournament. “I think my favorite moment in general was probably just the spring break trip overall. I think that is always the trip where everyone is able to bond and spend time together,” she said.
Both teams faced DePauw University in the first round. The women faced a tough Tiger squad, as they fell 5-0. However, Joy Li ’20 and Shannon Sertz ’20 played in the most tightly contested match, as they fell 8-5 in their No. 1 doubles match. They lost to a very talented duo from DePauw, with the pair being ranked sixth in the most recent Intercollegiate Tennis Association Central Region rankings. In addition, Wooster did see some success in the top half of its singles lineup in a few of the unfinished matches. When asked about the biggest challenge the team had this season, Emma Saxton ’22 noted injuries. “We had a couple of injuries that happened this season, so we were really forced to band together,” said Saxton. “While we still celebrate individual achievements, our greatest accomplishments were as a team.”
Next up, the women played Wittenberg University on Saturday, April 27. Wittenberg was seeded fifth, just one spot ahead of the Scots. In the regular season, the Scots lost to Wittenberg 7-2, but the rematch was a whole different story. It is important to note the role of Head Coach Amy Behrman on the team’s resilience. “Coach often tells us to leave everything on the court and there is nothing to lose. She really believes in me for beating regional-ranked players, which definitely reinforces my confidence,” said Li.
The Scots came out strong in their second match of the tournament, starting with a pair of 8-7 wins at No. 1 and No. 2 doubles. Sertz and Li picked up the victory at No. 1, while Laura Haley ’21 and Duran emerged victorious at No. 2 doubles. Sertz picked up her 75th doubles win of her college career, making her the 10th student-athlete in program history to achieve that feat. Both of those doubles matches were won in a tiebreaker. In No. 3 doubles, Meklit Minassie ’22 and Saxton picked up a solid 8-3 win. The rest of the Scots’ points came in their singles matches, with Sertz earning a 6-1, 6-0 victory, and Saxton picking up a 6-1, 7-6 win.
“It was a great win for the team because we were the underdogs going into the match and had lost to them earlier this season. And it was a great match for me because I had lost to the same girl in three sets in March,” Saxton stated.
Haley then reflected on the team’s performance at the conference championships. “Going into [it], we had two goals — leave everything on the court and finish higher than anticipated. I’m happy to say we accomplished both. Going into our match against Wittenberg, we knew we had one last chance on the court. I believe we all internalized this and played without hesitation,” she said.
The season also impacted every player in a positive way. Kendra Devereux ’21 described what she and her teammates learned the most as a result of this season. “Over the season we all have grown really close to one another and we have really learned how to build each other up. We learned that positivity and confidence are very important characteristics to have when playing tough matches and always tried to help each other focus on those mindsets,” she remarked. The women finished the 2018-2019 season with a record of 12-6 and will come back strong next season after losing zero seniors and gaining a few recruits.
On the men’s side during the tournament, the Scots fell 5-2 to third-ranked DePauw in their first match. The Scots did pick up a victory at No. 1 doubles, as Austin Hanna ’22 and Alon Liberman ’22 won 8-3. The other victory for the Scots came from Nathan Devereux ’20, as he won 6-0, 6-3 at the No. 4 flight.
The next opponent the Scots faced was Ohio Wesleyan. The Scots won a tightly contested match 5-3. Joaquin Abos Amo ’21 defeated Ohio Wesleyan’s Jack Hibbard to clinch the fifth-place match for the Scots. The Scots had carried a 2-1 lead into the singles matches, after Hanna and Liberman defeated Ohio Wesleyan’s No. 1 duo 8-4. At the No. 3 spot, Jesse DeWitt ’19 and Nebyou Minassie ’22 won 8-3. Abos Amo, Liberman and Devereux each won their singles matches to seal the victory for the Scots, with Abos Amo’s win clinching the match. The match marked redemption for the Scots, as they had lost to the Bishops 5-4 in the regular season.
Abos Amo described how the last match of the season was his favorite. “Personally, the moment that made me feel the best was after the very last match against Ohio Wesleyan when we were playing for the fifth position in the conference. The match was really, really close and I was losing in the third set, but I made my way back to finally win and clinch the match for us. It was our best result since 2008, and I also played one of the best matches of the season. It was a great feeling,” he said. Abos Amo also talked about how he learned a lot throughout the course of the season that helped him improve as a player and eventually get to the point where he ended this season — beating a quality opponent from Ohio Wesleyan. “The beginning of the season was pretty tough for me, because I lost a lot of close matches. I had a good season as a first year, so this year I had a lot of expectations when the season started. I lost matches against guys I wasn’t expecting to lose against, and that was very frustrating. I tried to keep practicing and giving my 100 percent. Spring break was a key moment in the season for me, since I had a couple good wins that gave me confidence for the rest of the matches this season,” he said. The men finished this past season with a record of 8-13, but learned a lot throughout the season and will only be losing one senior, Jesse DeWitt.
(Photo by Wooster Athletics).