aining momentum is essential to the end of the regular season in order to make a postseason run. The men’s and women’s tennis teams played rival Messiah College on Senior Day at Elizabethtown College where they showed the conference why they are the teams to beat heading into the conference tournament.
The men and women won by scores of 6-3 and 9-0 respectively. On the men’s side, the team received points from the senior duo of Paul Whitman and Billy Freitag as they moved to 15-1 on the year with a convincing 8-3 victory in number two doubles. Junior Cole Turula and sophomore Michael Cannon won their match for the Blue Jays 8-4.
Even with postseason implications raising the stakes, Freitag believes that playing the way the team has been playing all season will lead to success for the Blue Jays. “We just need to keep playing how we have been. We need to stay focused. It is the last time we are going into the playoffs so we want it to end well,” Freitag said.
Senior Eric Fritzges understands the significance of playing the conference tournament at home, giving the Blue Jays a major advantage. “Saturday’s match with Messiah was huge. We wanted very badly to win that match. We love having the number one seed since it means that we will have home matches throughout the playoffs. We want our opponents to come through Etown, where we can have our fan support,” Fritzges said.
In singles, Fritzges won at number two singles in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4; Whitman cruised at number three singles also in straight sets 6-2, 6-1; Turula was victorious in number four singles 6-4, 6-1 and Freitag won easily at number six singles 6-1, 6-1.
Senior Josh Riehl, who lost at number one singles, understands that Messiah is always a tough opponent to play against, yet the team thrives on defeating the Falcons at home. “We knew that it was going to be a tough match going into it, so we just tried to stay focused a get the results we needed. They were a tough opponent, and I look forward to possibly seeing them again in the postseason,” Riehl said.
On the women’s side, the Blue Jays showed their dominance in a 9-0 sweep of the Falcons. With the win over the Falcons, seniors Allison Burkhardt, Madison Pipkin and Kristi Noecker finished their careers in conference play unbeaten.
In singles, Pipkin and Noecker won in straight sets at number one and number three, 6-0, 6-1, respectively. Burkhardt and sophomore Adriana Scotto had more competitive matches, but still came out with wins as Burkhardt won her match 6-3, 6-4 and Scotto won 6-4, 7-5.
In doubles, the matches were a challenge for the Blue Jays, yet they came out on top 8-4, 8-5, 8-3 in first, second and third doubles respectively.
As the three-time defending conference champion, the women’s team knows it’s all or nothing for the Blue Jays. “We are finishing out our season this week and we finished really strong in conference play. We are going to continue in to post season with confidence, excitement and determination to defend the title we have held for the past three years,” Pipkin said.
Having a heavy senior lineup for this team, the determination of the men to win this year’s conference tournament means even more, given this is the last opportunity for many of the team members. “The goal of the seniors is once again to win the conference. All the hard work all season would confirm a conference title and would be a big letdown if we did not win it as favorites as seniors,” Whitman said.