lizabethtown College’s men’s and women’s tennis teams finished off their regular season against Wilkes University this past Saturday at the Alumni Courts. In the finale for both the teams, Wilkes took the upper hand in doubles play by winning two of the three contested matches, beating Etown 5-4.
The women’s team (14-3), who are ranked 13th in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s (ITA) Atlantic South Region, had an 18-match home winning streak prior to Saturday. “In my opinion, Wilkes is the toughest competition,” sophomore Christine Evangelista stated. “But, it’s really exciting and fun to end the season out on the toughest match, and we’re all feeling it because they were hard last year.”
During the doubles match, Evangelista and sophomore Kaitlyn Pellegrino had a tiebreaker and claimed victory over senior Amanda Holyk and first-year Olivia Hewison 9-8.
Unfortunately, in the second singles match, senior Allison Burkhardt suffered an injury in her match against junior Ally Kristofco. This put the Lady Colonels up 3-1.
Etown’s Pellegrino and junior Adriana Scotto had great performances in their singles matches to tie the score at three. Pellegrino defeated first-year Summer Lentini 6-1, 6-0 and Scotto defeated sophomore Ana English 6-2, 6-1, giving her a 20-win season.
Lady Colonels’ (15-2) No. 1, senior Melanie Nolt, and Etown’s No. 3, senior Kristi Noecker, were able to keep their match tied. Noecker, who holds the school’s career record for combined victories, acquired her 140th win in her 6-2, 6-3 singles victory over senior Katie Lynn.
As the men’s team prepared for their matches on Saturday, senior Eric Fritzges discussed what his expectations were for the game. “It’s going to be a tough match,” he said. “They are a good opponent every year, so we’re trying to get this win and go into the playoffs with some confidence. We just need to stay focused, be consistent and really play well.”
Throughout the doubles matches, senior Josh Riehl won his 61st career doubles match with the help of Fritzges. Riehl set a new program standard and moved into the top spot. Etown’s No. 1 tandem, Riehl and Fritzges, took an 8-4 win over sophomore Steven Wilson and junior Alex Makos to tie the match at one after Wilkes won third doubles.
The Blue Jays’ (13-3) second doubles team, consisting of seniors Paul Whitman and Billy Freitag, faced four match points while trailing 7-3 in their match against the Colonels’ (12-3) first-years Michael Kranz and Connor Peckham. However, Whitman and Freitag won all four decisive points and came back to win the match 9-8 in a tiebreaker.
During the singles matches on Saturday, Wilkes defeated Etown’s successful season at home by winning the first four singles. Wilkes player, sophomore Brendon Blachowski, downed sophomore Mike Cannon 6-1, 6-0 at No. 6 and Wilson beat Riehl 6-1, 6-3 at No. 1. Wilkes player, first-year Max Appello also took junior Cole Turula in straight sets at No. 4, and Peckham won a tiebreaker over Freitag in the first set No. 5, 7-6, before winning the second set 6-3.
Fritzges went three sets to down Makos 2-6, 6-1, 6-3, while Whitman came back from a one-set deficit to beat Kranz for his 18th win of the season, 4-6, 7-5, (10-5).
This week the men’s and women’s teams will prepare for the MAC tournament. “We’re confident in our abilities, but we can’t be cocky,” first-year Evan Hinkley stated. “We have to come out ready to play and we have to go in playing every match hard.”
The men clinched their trip to the Commonwealth Conference Championships Tuesday after a 5-0 win over Lebanon Valley College. All three doubles pairs won, and Whitman and Turula grabbed singles victories to determine the match. A win on Saturday would give the men’s program its third straight conference championship. The Messiah College Falcons or the Alvernia University Crusaders will travel to Etown to face the men.
The women also picked up a 5-0 win in the conference semifinals, but this time over Alvernia. The Blue Jays swept the Crusaders Wednesday with three doubles wins. Noecker and Scotto won their singles matches, and with those two wins, Etown advanced to the conference championships on Saturday. The women will play either Messiah or LVC. A victory this weekend would be the women’s fourth consecutive conference championship and their seventh win in nine seasons.