The Wooster men’s tennis team opened its season with a dramatic victory at Walsh University on Sep. 15. After facing a 3-1 deficit and needing to win the last three matches in progress, the Fighting Scots were able to pull off the comeback for a 4-3 win.
“This time we had to come back from the brink of defeat … I wasn’t sure how we would respond to that kind of pressure and adversity,” said Coach Zack Hasenyager.
The Scots fell behind early in the day, as Walsh took the doubles point by winning two out of three matches. The Cavaliers’ Filipp Kulynych ’21 and Clemens Wagner ’20 topped Wooster’s Nathan Devereux ’20 and Nivaan Lobo ’23 by a 6-1 score. Austin Hanna ’22 and Alon Liberman ’22 then tied things up with a 6-3 win for the Scots. The final doubles match, however, went to Guilherme Carneiro ’21 and Dawson Drummond ’22, who won 6-3 over Joaquin Abos Amo ’21 and Alex Drewes ’23 to secure the doubles victory.
This meant the Scots had to take four out of six singles battles to win the match. The first one completed was at No. 2, in which Devereux defeated Wagner 6-3, 6-3 to get revenge for the doubles result. Walsh’s Jakob Riglewski ’22 was victorious 6-3, 7-5 over Liberman to give his team a 2-1 lead and then Kulynych pushed it to 3-1 with a 7-5, 6-1 win over Nebyou Minassie ’22.
Wooster needed a comeback, and it began with Hanna, who kept the Scots alive by coming out on top 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 over Drummond. Lobo was also victorious in a three-set bout, storming back by scores of 3-6, 7-6, 6-3 after losing the first set against Pedro Campos ’22. It all came down to Abos Amo’s matchup with Alex Medina ’22. Like Lobo, Abos Amo had to win the last two sets after falling 6-7 in the opener. He tied the score with a 6-4 win and then, with all eyes on his match, defeated Medina 6-3 in the tiebreaker to bring Wooster a feel-good victory.
“The Walsh match just continued a tradition of incredibly close results,” Hasenyager said. “I think this was the fourth time in five years that the match has come down to the final court, and fortunately we’ve been on the winning end of that three times … Closing out the final three courts in third sets says a lot about the competitiveness and character of this team. I’m proud to be a part of a culture that cares enough to fight for a win like that.”
Hasenyager is proud of how hard his team has worked to get to where they are, and he is excited about the possibilities of the young season. “I’ve been very impressed with how the new players have integrated themselves into the team already, and I think we have a really good dynamic,” he said. “These guys love tennis and that passion shows up in the practices. There’s just a ton of hard work and enthusiasm day in and out, and I look forward to seeing how much we can continue to improve and surprise people throughout the year.”
Some of the players on the team, primarily Hanna and Minassie, have gained additional practice from a different, but similarly challenging sport: table tennis. Hanna and Minassie have a unique rivalry in the table tennis club, as they often show their competitive nature during intense duels at the table. The two have even been known to place bets on their ping pong battles, with the loser having to buy the winner a smoothie from Mom’s Food and Drink.
“A lot of the tennis players have joined the ping pong club, and I think it is helping our team a lot,” Hanna said. “All the ping pong has really helped my doubles play.” Minassie also noted that the new sport helps to improve his reaction times on the court.