This past week was an exciting one for Hopkins tennis, as both teams rallied to take home the coveted regular season Centennial Conference title.
The women’s team closed out their regular season with a home match on May 27 against the Swarthmore College Garnet. The Jays entered the matchup undefeated in Conference play looking to secure the regular season Centennial Conference Championship.
The Blue Jays won all six singles matchups against the Garnet and brought home two out of three doubles matchups.
Junior Kimberly Zou defeated Swarthmore’s senior Anna Scheibmeir 6-0 and 6-2, the most lopsided score of the day. Most of the other Blue Jays won their matches handily as well, winning all but one matchup in just two sets.
The Blue Jays won the majority of the doubles matchups as well, as freshman Anjali Kashyap and sophomore Sophia Strickland won their matchup at first against Garnet sophomore Emma Kassan and Scheibmeir. Freshman Dhanya Asokumar and Zou beat Swarthmore junior Julia Gokhberg and sophomore Shirline Wee. Junior Katie Gauch and freshman Margo Gerke fought hard but fell 7-9.
Kashyap commented on the struggle the team went through to get to where they are now.
“Four of our starters graduated last year and we started the season with a very young team. That being said, we worked extremely hard during preseason, indoor and spring season in order to prepare for harder teams and win the Conference. Beating [Christopher Newport University] 8-1 was a huge confidence boost that carried us into beating Swarthmore 8-1,” she said.
The men’s team also had an impressive end to their regular season, going undefeated in Conference play as well after battling Swarthmore in a gritty victory on Saturday. They enter the post-season 9-0 in the Centennial Conference and 16-3 overall.
At home on Saturday, the Jays pulled off an upset against the Garnet. Swarthmore came in ranked No. 16, the Jays No. 23.
Singles competition was intense, with close games all around, but Hopkins was able to make it through. Junior Scott Thygesen fought a particularly tough battle against Garnet freshman Thibault Vernier at second but triumphed 6-4, 4-6, 6-4. Sophomore Austin Gu won his match at fifth by a score of 6-3, 6-3. Freshman Vishnu Joshi snatched a 6-0, 7-5 victory at first.
Doubles competition was an even closer matchup for the Blue Jays. Only the pair of senior David Perez and Thygesen was able to come out of their match with a win, beating Swarthmore seniors Mark Fallati and Josh Powell 8-5 at first.
Joshi reflected on the team’s season goals.
“From a team perspective, heading into this season there were a lot of questions being asked of us since we are a very young team, fresh off of graduating some of the best tennis players in Hopkins history a season ago,” he said. “Our goals remained the same, however: remain the dominant figure in the Centennial Conference and make a run in the NCAA tournament.”
He elaborated on what the team plans to keep in mind going into the future.
“The season is long and sometimes it is easy to lose sight of the end goals, but as we head into the post season next week we have been stepping up our intensity and getting prepared for whatever any team can throw at us,” Joshi said.
The Jays closed the regular season the next day at the University of Mary Washington. This matchup proved to be difficult, as the Jays went 3-3 in doubles play and 2-1 in singles, finishing their regular season with a non-Conference victory.
Joshi, Gu and senior Justin Kang won their singles matches, with especially strong play demonstrated in a 6-1, 6-1 match from Kang.
Standout players Joshi and sophomore Vik Vasan would continue their week of strong play in an 8-3 doubles victory at third. Sophomore Joe Cartledge and Gu also finished with an 8-3 win of their own at first.
Joshi commented on the team’s preparation moving forward.
“During practice we have tried to put our friendships with one another aside and play competitively in order to prepare for the competition that lies ahead. Our captains Justin [Kang] and David [Perez] have tried to give us a little extra motivation as we head into our last few matches and have taught the underclassmen how to play not just for ourselves but to properly represent the school.”
The men return to action on Saturday, May 5 at 1 p.m. in the semifinals against the winner of the Washington College and Franklin & Marshall College matchup.
The women will return on May 5 as well to host the Conference tournament at the Hopkins tennis courts. They will also play the winner of Washington College versus Franklin & Marshall.