Men’s tennis begins SCIAC play with victory over Caltech

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Author: Taylor-Anne Esparza

The Occidental College men’s tennis team started its conference season on Friday, entering on a three-game winning streak and continuing the trend with an 8-1 victory over Caltech. From the outset, their schedule has been grueling as the squad faced 10 matches in 13 days from March 17 to March 29. The men were successful last season in breaking the nation’s top 30 and look to earn a ranking again this year with wins throughout the SCIAC schedule.

While the 10 matches proved to be strenuous for the team, co-captain Jordan Brown (senior) believed it only helped them to improve the quality of their play.

“Our conference is really, really good and all these matches have prepared us,” Brown said. “We’re all closer because we spent so much time together. We also improved a lot during the stretch because we were able to play so many different colleges.”

Co-captain Stephen Perkins (senior) discussed the team’s abilities and the endurance he has seen throughout the season thus far. He alluded to two recent 9-0 victories against Pacific Lutheran University and Whitworth College as well as a narrow win over Pacific University as matches in which he was proud of the men for stepping up.

“We’ve held up pretty well and our level of play didn’t drop from fatigue, which is a testament to our fitness,” Perkins said. “It’s a grind mentally and physically, but it didn’t wear us down.”

Perkins strives to play his best personally while encouraging his teammates to maintain their determination. He hopes to help the Tigers improve on past performances and maintain a positive mindset throughout his last year playing for Occidental.

“I hope we compete really hard to prove we belong and can compete with these teams,” Perkins said. “It’s a team sport and we want to win as a team, but if we can win some individual matches that would be really nice.”

Coach Brian Newhall was eager to get the conference season started and showcase Occidental’s skills to the league. He spoke highly of the unit they have formed and expressed his optimistic attitude for accomplishing team goals.

“Priority in pre-season was to knock off a few out of state teams and improve our regional and national ranking,” Newhall said. “Now the top priority is to beat Chapman and compete well against the SCIAC powerhouses.”

Both the men and Newhall spoke to the compatibility of the players and their dynamic on the courts. Newhall explained that the men not only play hard and compete to win but, according to Brown, they also enjoy time spent together as a team.

“[Our] players love to play matches,” Newhall said. “College tennis is indeed a team sport. They support each other on and off the courts. All 14 of our guys are having a lot of fun playing college tennis.”

Although Newhall always promotes the group aspect of the sport, he also gives a special nod to a few new and top players. Josh Dancu (sophomore) recently transferred from Division I DePaul University and earned the number one singles spot.

“[Dancu] has a chance to go down as one of the best players in Oxy tennis history,” Newhall said. “Dancu is currently ranked number 22 in the super competitive West Region and his ranking will climb. Jack Streeter (first-year) and Jesse Kreger (first-year) along with Dancu gave us a strong new group of players.”

Despite hitting a road bump with a loss to Pomona-Pitzer on Saturday, the squad has four more conference games left in the season, the first of which is scheduled for Friday at 2 p.m. against Cal Lutheran University at Scholl Canyon.

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