In its first couple matches at the Wangerin Courts this spring, the men’s tennis team did not disappoint. Its record improved to 12-6 after it swept Rock Valley College 8-0 and beat Lawrence University 8-1.
In preparation for the second match of the day, the Warhawks sat their No. 1-4 singles and No. 1 and 2 doubles players, and still won a majority of their sets 6-0. In fact, they only dropped one game during singles play.
The roster shake-up allowed all of the team’s bench players to see the court. Senior Brady Porter got his first taste of No. 1 singles experience this season. He won his match in straight sets.
“Brady played very well against Rock Valley,” assistant coach Mike Harmatys said. “He was super-consistent and stepped up nicely.”
The second match of the day against Lawrence also went well for the ’Hawks as they won all of their doubles flights and lost only one singles flight.
“Everybody played great and came out focused from the first point,” Harmatys said. “We didn’t take this team lightly and played with a competitive edge.”
The battle for No. 1 singles was between sophomore Byron Balkin and Lawrence’s Jason Dunn. Dunn took the first set 6-4 despite several unforced serving errors, but Balkin clawed his way back into the match after taking the second set 6-4.
Heading into the super-breaker, it started to rain forcing several intermissions. This gave Balkin a chance to collect himself and to receive advice from his team.
“I just told him to stay patient and weather the storm,” Harmatys said. “The great thing about Byron is he doesn’t lose his cool and it’s great for us to know that he might be down but he’s never out.”
The pair traded points until they were tied at six, but Balkin fell 10-8 giving Lawrence its sole match-win of the day.
“Byron’s a great player but so is Jason,” junior Andrew Bayliss said. “I’ve known him since he was 10 and he’s always been a very streaky player, who might make a lot of mistakes but can also give someone a tough game.”
The ’Hawks will face tougher competition April 14-16. They will play four matches in three days, one of which is against Central Region rival Gustavus Adolphus College. The ‘Hawks are 0-18 all-time versus Gustavus.