Men have tough start to season

Freshman Nicholas Mitric focuses on the tennis ball during an afternoon practice earlier this week. || Taylor Mcstoots/The News
Freshman Nicholas Mitric focuses on the tennis ball during an afternoon practice earlier this week. || Taylor Mcstoots/The News

Freshman Nicholas Mitric focuses on the tennis ball during an afternoon practice earlier this week. || Taylor Mcstoots/The News

The men’s tennis team hit the road for matches at the University of Louisville and Middle Tennessee State. The Racers lost against 34th ranked Louisville 7-0 at the Bass-Rudd Tennis Center.

Junior Adam Taylor lost 6-4, 6-2 at No. 1 singles to Albert Wagner. Senior Tyler Jeffers and sophomore Aleks Mitric lost 6-2, 6-2 at No. 2 and No. 6 singles, respectively. Senior Ryan Kennedy lost 6-0, 6-2 at No. 3 singles. Freshman Nicholas Mitric lost 6-0, 6-2 at No. 5 singles and sophomore Max McLean was defeated 6-0, 6-0 at No. 4 singles. Taylor and Kennedy lost 8-1 to Wagner and Alex Gornett. McLean and Aleks also lost 8-1. No. 2 doubles pair Jeffers and Nicholas were defeated 8-4.

Despite their defeat, Head Coach Mel Purcell commended his players for going out and playing hard.

“I was really happy by their efforts,” Purcell said. “You can’t always look at the score, you have to judge it also by the strength of our opponents. We had a tough couple of matches, but overall I’m very pleased with the guys, and we’ll continue to work hard in practice for our next match.”

The Racers were back on the road again as they traveled to Nashville, Tenn., to take on Middle Tennessee State on Sunday, Jan. 20. The team was defeated 6-1.

Kennedy picked up the lone win for the Racers at No. 5 singles. Kennedy defeated Pedro Gonzalez 6-2, 6-2. No. 6 singles player Nicholas lost in a close three set match to Marlon Brand, 6-0, 2-6, 10-7. Jeffers, No. 1 singles player, lost 6-4, 6-1. Jeffers and Taylor were defeated at No. 1 and 2 singles. McLean lost at No. 4 singles 6-2, 6-2. Racers doubles teams were defeated with the pairings of Kennedy and Taylor, Aleks and McLean and Nicholas and Jeffers.

Purcell said the biggest challenge was figuring out the right combination of doubles.

Scrambling to gain footing from their previous losses, the Racers completed their circuit at Tennessee in Knoxville on Jan. 21. The team finished its road trip with a pair of losses, 4-0, 6-0, at the Goodfriend Tennis Center.

Tennessee won the doubles’ point by winning all three doubles matches. Taylor and Kennedy were defeated by the 26th ranked doubles team of Mikelis Libietis and Jarryd Chaplin 8-4. A loss at No. 2 doubles with Jeffers and Nicholas 8-1, and another loss with McLean and Aleks 8-5 gave Tennessee the early lead.

In the singles portion, Taylor lost 6-2, 6-2, senior Joao Camara lost 6-0, 6-0 at No. 3 singles and Kennedy lost at No. 5 singles 6-2, 6-0. During the second match of the day, Taylor lost 6-1, 6-2 to Hunter Reese, ranked 40th. Jeffers lost 6-1, 6-3 to ninth-ranked Libietis and Camara lost 6-1, 6-3. McLean lost in match number two to Tennessee’s Brandon Fickey, 6-0, 6-2. Kennedy and Nicholas lost in their second singles matches of the day 6-0, 6-3 and 6-1, 6-0, respectively.

“A couple of them were playing really well by the end of the matches,” Purcell said. “Playing more matches and getting more comfortable on the court will help.”

The team will host Abilene Christian at the Bennie Purcell Tennis Courts on Feb. 7.

Story by Laura Kovarik, Staff writer.