The Hopkins men’s tennis team is rolling on to the NCAA Tournament. On Sunday, the 16th-ranked team captured their sixth straight Centennial Conference crown and seventh in the last eight years by defeating 27th-ranked Swarthmore, 5-1. Freshman Erick Lim secured the championship for Hopkins with his win at sixth-singles: “It was an exciting experience. Coming in as a freshman and being able to clinch the conference title is definitely fun,” Lim added shortly after the win.
The Jays, now with an impressive record of 17-4, earn the conference’s automatic qualifier to the NCAA Tournament. However, “[t]he work isn’t done yet,” Lim remarked, “winning the Centennial is merely establishing our spot in regionals. I would say that the regular season is our preseason and the postseason is when our real season begins.”
Hopkins started out hot Sunday and carried their confidence throughout the day. Lim and fellow freshman Tanner Brown put Hopkins in the lead with an 8-1 win at third-doubles over Anthony Collard and Daniel Park of Swarthmore. The seniors then took over as Jacob Barnaby and Warren Elgort of Hopkins made it a 2-0 with an 8-5 back and forth win over Maxwell Bressman and Max Kaye of Swarthmore, at the first. Christian Carcione and Zak Kelm of the Swarthmore Garnet’s then got their team’s first point in a compelling 9-8 (8-6) match at the second over juniors Andy Hersh and Jeffery Kamel of Hopkins. The Jays pair did not go down quietly, coming back in thrilling fashion from a 7-4 deficit and eventually forcing a tiebreaker.
Hopkins regained their winning ways in singles play as Brown gave the Jay’s a 3-1 match lead with consecutive 6-2 wins over Bressman at the second. Elgort then followed it up with a win of his own, defeating Preston Poon, 6-1, 6-4 at the fifth, pushing the Blue Jays within one win of the title. Lim closed the book on Swarthmore, beating Carcione 6-4, 6-3 at the sixth to give the Jay’s a 5-1 victory.
A battle-tested Hopkins squad looks to continue their dominance into the postseason. “This year’s team is so hard to beat because we have such a good group,” Lim boasted, “from the seniors to the freshmen, we are all very competitive and work well with each other on and off the court.”
A solid freshman class has made this Jays team even more confident than previous years as they head into the NCAA Tournament. “I think the eight new freshmen, who have all played in national level tournaments, bring needed energy to the returning players,” Lim added.
Revamping the Hopkins men’s tennis team has also come in the form of new Head Coach Jamie Engles who has added an upbeat attitude and a strong rapport with his team. “With Coach Jamie coming in this year, he brought in needed energy and team dinners that has helped our team bond,” Lim explained.
Hopkins is now advancing to the Tournament for the seventh consecutive season. The Tournament is scheduled for May 11th through the 13th. However, there is still work to be done.
Lim explained: “We are still working to fine-tune our doubles before the NCAA [tournament] and get mentally prepared.”
The team will learn its tournament seeding fate on May 7th and is confident it will make a serious run at a regional championship. Lim concluded, “We are all excited and ready, so it should be something special for this school and of course, this team.”