Weerasinghe, Sharma, Kanther Open With Wins, But Judson Wins More
Maple Leafs, undone by doubles, split six singles matches
ELGIN, Ill. — Goshen College started the 2017 men’s tennis season Saturday morning with a 6-3 loss at Judson University.
The Eagles (1-0), who finished the 2016-17 season receiving votes in the NAIA coaches poll, started the match on the right foot with an 8-2 win at no. 1 doubles. Judson took early leads at the remaining two spots before Goshen closed back within 5-6 at no. 2 and 6-7 at no. 3. But the hosts broke once more at the former spot and served out the match at the latter position, putting themselves in the catbird seat with a 3-0 lead in the team match.
“I’ve noticed vast improvement in our doubles play compared to last season in our preseason and was hoping we could win two of the three doubles points,” said director of tennis Evan Atkinson. “Unfortunately, we showed many signs of nervousness and did not come out of the gate with high energy. We made a lot of service and execution errors early but I was pleased with our decision-making. We need to continue to work on owning the net in doubles and forcing other teams to play through us.”
While Goshen returned five of its six singles starters from last season and slotted freshman Lukas Kanther into the no. 5 slot vacated by the graduated Eric Cender, the Maple Leafs (0-1) would reorganize their top four positions entering Saturday.
The Eagles’ new kid in town, freshman Christopher Veltkamp, put up their fourth team point after knocking off Evan Beck 6-0, 6-0 at no. 6 singles, and John Mittvick made the score 5-0 with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Eric Zuercher.
Fortunately for the Maple Leafs, the middle of the lineup was busy being fabulous and pulling off wins at the third, fourth and fifth slots. Kanther turned in the first team point with a super-tiebreak win, followed by Kartikeya Sharma at no. 3 and Aritha Weerasinghe at no. 4.
“I was happy with the first match of Lukas’ collegiate career as he shook away nerves in the second set, coming back from a break to win the match in an easy tiebreak,” Atkinson said. “Our nerves showed yet again as Kart double-faulted three times in the game to allow for a second-set tiebreak. He played patient tennis and put the pressure on his opponent in the tiebreak, winning the match on a poetic-justice opposing double fault.”
Elisha Hougland rounded out the match for Judson with a victory over Juan Miguel Ciudad in the second singles spot.
The win was Judson’s second in the two head-to-head meetings between the two schools: JU won 5-4 last fall in its first-ever trip to Goshen.
“Overall we are disappointed in the loss but are encouraged to start our season with a challenging opponent setting up league play,” Atkinson said. “We knew Judson would be a strong opponent for our first match of the season. The result would be a barometer to where we stood as a team and look at where we succeeded and where we needed to improve. I believe we will learn from our jitters and intimidation and bring energy Tuesday.”
Goshen opens its conference schedule at home against the Lancers at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Full Results: Judson 6, Goshen 3
1. John Mittvick (J) def. Eric Zuercher 6-1, 6-1
2. Elisha Hougland (J) def. Juan Miguel Ciudad 6-3, 6-4
3. Kartikeya Sharma (G) def. Riley Rowan 6-3, 7-6(5)
4. Aritha Weerasinghe (G) def. Michael Bruen 6-1, 2-6, (10-5)
5. Lukas Kanther (G) def. Josh Gronowski 6-2, 7-6(2)
6. Christopher Veltkamp (J) def. Evan Beck 6-0, 6-0
1. Hougland/Mittvick (J) def. Sharma/Zuercher 8-2
2. Rowan/Veltkamp (J) def. Kanther/Luke Rush 8-5
3. Bruen/Gronowski (J) def. Ciudad/Weerasinghe 8-6