Men’s Tennis Looks to Rally After Top 10 Challenges

Emily Solomon, Sports Editor

The men’s tennis team travelled to Cleveland, Ohio to compete against fellow nationally ranked teams in the ITA National Indoor Championships. The 13th ranked Blues faced teams that are ranked in the top ten in the nation, including a loss to 4th ranked Emory, 8th ranked Gustavus Adolphus College and 10th ranked Carnegie Mellon.

Whitman struggled to put games in the win column while in Cleveland, but the Blues used their chance early on in the season to gain experience heading into Northwest Conference play. The Blues also faced many Division One teams prior to the ITA National Indoor Championships that has prepped them for the season to come, including the University of Montana and the University of Idaho. This high-level competition has provided insight for the team on how to dominate the Northwest Conference, which they are predicted to win.

Junior psychology major Raj Chikkalingaiah feels that playing top 10 opponents has allowed his team to grow tremendously at the start of the season.

“Playing these elite schools (Emory, Gustavus Adolphus College and Carnegie Mellon) forced us to step up our game and gave us a taste of what it takes to compete on the national stage,” Chikkalingaiah voiced. “Since tennis is a sport where individual performance is heavily dependent on that of the opponent, players often perform better against tougher competition.”

The team struggled in some of their sets, but a few players did win their individual matches. Junior Ben Kirsh defeated Gustavus Adolphus College’s number one singles player in three sets, and Chikkalingaiah and teammate Adam Rapoport won at number three doubles against Gustavus as well.

Sophomore BBMB major Andreas Mueller-Immergluck also travelled with the team to Ohio and enjoyed the chance to be surrounded by nationally ranked competition.

“It was exciting to have the opportunity to play at such a top tier tournament,” Mueller-Immergluck said. “It’s a huge help for the team to play these difficult matches early in the season. Playing these high quality teams forces us to raise our level of play and allows us to recognize the parts of our game we need to improve on to win these big matches. Playing in these tournaments also helps build team chemistry because of all the time we spend together on the road.”

Men’s tennis lost quite a few seniors in the class of 2018, so the current squad is relatively young. Although the young team may lack experience, they do make up for that with heart in determination to make a name for themselves in the 2019 season.

“With four new starters this year, I am excited to see what we can accomplish,” Chikkalingaiah said. “With spring break coming around the corner, we are preparing to play more elite teams. It will be interesting to see how our new experience will help us respond to these challenges.”

“I’m really looking forward to going to Los Angeles during spring break because we will be playing highly ranked teams such as Bowdoin and Pomona,” said Mueller-Immergluck.

The Blues begin Northwest Conference play on the weekend of Saturday, Mar. 9 as they take on Linfield College and Pacific University.