After nearly a year since their last matches, the Lafayette women’s and men’s tennis teams hosted Coppin State this past Saturday. The women’s team earned a resounding 7-0 win, while the men’s team came up just short in a 4-3 loss.
After finishing 9-2 last spring in a season cut short by COVID-19, the women’s team picked up right where they left off.
“Building off of last year’s momentum, we all want to win,” said sophomore Melanie Sparhawk. “One thing we need to work on before beginning league play is our doubles. We have two new pairs of doubles teams and I think that can be a challenge for us.”
The women’s team won the doubles point 2-1, with seniors Cece Lesnik and Samantha Snyder defeating their counterparts 6-3 at No. 1 doubles. Sophomores Jessica Siegel and Halle DeNardo won their doubles match by default, clinching the doubles point for the Leopards.
The women’s team cleaned house in their singles matches, winning 6-0 with four of those victories coming in straight sets. At No. 2 singles, McCormack won convincingly with two straight 6-0 matches, while Sparhawk swept No. 5 singles with back-to-back 6-1 wins. Those two surrendered the fewest points in their respective matches.
At the No. 3 singles spot, Siegel won in a thrilling three-set match. She took the first set 6-3, lost the second set 5-7 and then clinched the win in the third set by a 10-5 margin.
In the top singles spot it was business as usual for Snyder, who won 6-1 and 6-3. Lesnick also won her match at No. 4 singles 6-1 and 7-6. DeNardo’s match was won by default, as the Leopards had already clinched the win.
“Our captains this year have set a really good precedent,” Siegel said. “The team camaraderie has really helped us.”
The men’s team, whose lone victory last season came against Coppin State, failed to record their first win of the season. The team graduated one senior last year, Paul Caruso, and added freshman Davis Esslinger.
“We are all a little more motivated this year, considering where we ended up last year,” said sophomore Josh Wolfe. “We felt we had more to prove, so the team’s mindset is better this year considering where we finished last year.”
The men lost at No.1 and No.3 doubles, giving Coppin State the doubles point. The lone win for the Leopards was courtesy of Wolfe and fellow sophomore Nash Lovallo, who earned a 6-0 victory.
Junior William Barry and senior John Yurconic were defeated 7-5 at No.1 doubles, before the Wolfe and Lovallo win knotted up the doubles matches at 1-1. Coppin State clinched the crucial doubles point with a 6-2 win over junior Ross Coleman and the freshman Esslinger.
“Going into my doubles match, I was nervous,” Esslinger said. “I was mostly excited, but there was definitely a level of nervousness I needed to overcome.”
The doubles point proved to be the difference, as Coppin State split the singles matches with Lafayette. Lovallo won at No. 3 singles in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2, and Wolfe also won in straight sets, 6-1, 6-0, at No. 5 singles. Esslinger started off his Lafayette career with a bang, capturing his first win in straight sets in the sixth spot, 6-4, 6-3.
The men’s team faced issues at their top spots, as three of the Leopard’s top four players lost, including Barry, Yurconic and senior Dan Kramer. All three singles wins, and the doubles win, were earned by freshmen or sophomores on the team.
The women’s and men’s teams typically have exhibition matches in the fall to shake off the rust before the spring season starts, but that was not the case this time around. The team will play far fewer games than in a normal spring season, but that may not be all bad news.
“With more time and practice on the court I believe we will get cleaned up,” Wolfe said.” I don’t think any of us were at 100 percent and while that’s no excuse to lose, we have a lot to look forward to.”
Both teams were scheduled to face Union on Saturday but the matches have now been canceled, presumably due to COVID-19 protocols. The men will host Villanova on Sunday at 3 p.m., while the women have a week off before returning to play against Delaware State on Sunday, March 7.