Tennis squad sweeps the weekend

Bailey Johnston, Staff Writer

The Warhawks men’s tennis team never seems to disappoint, winning their fifth straight dual match at this past weekend’s tournament at Premier Tennis and Fitness in Janesvillle, Wisconsin. They remain undefeated in Division-III competitions with an overall 8-1 victory against Ohio Wesleyan University and Grinnell College (Iowa) and 5-4 win over Wheaton College (Illinois).

The ‘Hawks executed well considering the loss of Rithwik Rajshekhar Raman. Raman will not be competing this season due to health concerns.

“He took the season off to take the best possible care of his body and to give his body a rest… because he’s been grinding his body a long time playing tennis,” sophomore Rory Calabria said. “I think this was best for him.”

Rajshekhar Raman was not the only loss the men’s tennis team had this season. The team also lost five starters from last year.

“[Junior] Grant Thompson was the only doubles player left of last year’s starting lineup… so we are getting some guys off the bench that have been working hard for a couple years now,” head coach Frank Barnes said.

Thompson started to show some leadership on the team when he recorded a 9-7 triumph with sophomore Jimmy Engelhart against Grinnell (Iowa) and recorded a 9-8 victory against Ohio Wesleyan at No. 1 in doubles while accomplishing a 10-8 victory against Wheaton and 6-3, 6-2 victory against Grinnell at No. 1 in singles.

“Grant had a huge weekend,” Barnes said. “It was a good weekend to make a name for himself.”

Other than the outstanding doubles victories, Engelhart was successful in singles as well. The nail-biter singles match set a tiebreak win of 6-7, 6-0, 1-0 sitting comfortably at the number two spot.

“He is a competitor, and I admire and enjoy watching him play tennis because of how tenacious he is when he plays his matches,” Calabria said.

Freshman Zach Wood seemed to be getting himself comfortable on the tennis court with a 6-4, 6-2 win against Wheaton, 6-1, 6-2 victory against Ohio Wesleyan, and finishing the weekend with a strong 6-2, 6-2 triumph against Grinnell.

Calabria was stepping up to the plate and had a strong weekend in singles as well with two strong finishes against Wheaton and Grinnell with a matching win of 6-3, 6-1 at the number three spot.

“I would like to be an example for my teammates… young and old… and show that you can win even when you’re not playing your best,” Calabria said.

Calabria and Wood are seeming to adjust well with each other in doubles. They finished with an 8-3 victory against Ohio Wesleyan at No. 2, an 8-4 win against Wheaton, and 8-2 victory against Grinnell.

“(Wood) has no problem telling me how he sees the dynamic of the match unfolding,” Calabria said. “He tells me exactly what he’s thinking and there’s a lot of trust there. That stands out to me as a teammate quality.”

Junior Matt Zurowski continued the momentum winning despite his beginning setback against Ohio Wesleyan with a score of 3-6, 6-0, 1-0 win and defeating his Grinnell singles opponent with a score of 6-4, 6-2 sitting at No. 4.

Zurowski dominated doubles with junior Zane Navratil against Wheaton with a triumph of 8-3 sitting at No. 3 and another win with sophomore Brandon Dechter 8-4 also at the number three spot.

“Matt Zurowski really stepped up,” Barnes said. “He’s been waiting for a chance the past two years, and now he’s one of our main players on singles and doubles.”

Navratil didn’t let down when he had a 6-2, 7-6 victory over Diego Venegas of Ohio Wesleyan at No. 1 in singles. Dechtor defeated his Ohio Wesleyan opponent 6-1, 6-2 at No. 5 singles.

Freshman Lucas Monterroso had strong matches as well with a victory over Ohio Wesleyan 6-2, 6-2 and Grinnell 6-2, 6-4 sitting at No. 6.

The ’Hawks hope to continue this momentum going into a D-I matchup vs. UW-Green Bay at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 24 on the road.

“We are feeling quite confident,” Calabria said. “We are also feeling absolutely zero pressure playing Green Bay. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain.”