This past weekend, the Hopkins men’s tennis team travelled to Salisbury, Md. to take on the Salisbury University Sea Gulls. The Blue Jays defeated the Sea Gulls by a score of 7-2, earning their second win of the season.
The Jays started off the day by sweeping all three doubles matches. The team of seniors Scott Thygesen and Colin Muraika won their match 8-7, as did the team of sophomore Eric Yoo and junior Aaron Carey. The No. 1 doubles team of juniors Austin Gu and Joe Cartledge defeated their competition 8-5.
Hopkins continued its success in the singles matches, winning them 4-2. It took Cartledge and Carey only two sets each to beat junior Kelson Weber and sophomore Patrick MacLean, respectively.
Gu also only required two sets to defeat sophomore Colt Williamson. Along with his strong doubles performance, this win earned Gu the title of The News-Letter’s Athlete of the Week.
The Bellevue, Wash. native sat down with The News-Letter to discuss his recent success and the team’s victory on Saturday.
The News-Letter: What was key to the team’s success this past weekend?
Austin Gu: I think as a team we were just kind of more settled in to matches. Two weekends ago we went down to Virginia to play two solid teams — in our first match we kind of got put in our place. But since then we’ve been doing better just cause we’re a little more used to the competitive environment and people can sort of get into their groove earlier in matches.
NL: What is your mindset when playing and what is your pre-match routine?
AG: I guess in general I just try to keep things simple during the match. Focus on like one or two small things that will help me play well but will keep me from being obsessed with the score or anything like that. I don’t really do pre-match routines. I’m not really a superstitious guy so whatever comes to my mind comes to my mind and I guess I just end up doing what’s comfortable in the moment.
NL: How did it feel to notch your first singles win of the season against Salisbury?
AG: Feels good. I mean the guy I played was pretty good. I was feeling a little iffy coming out of my matches two weekends ago, so I didn’t really know what to expect last weekend. But it was a solid win and pretty reassuring.
NL: You and teammate Joe Cartledge are now 2-1 early in the season. What’s the camaraderie like between the two of you and how do your styles of play fit together?
AG: I love Joe. We just goof around. During the match we’re focused and all but then after the match we’ll make fun of each other’s shots and we’ll laugh at low points during the match or moments when we both know the other person messed up. To be honest I don’t really know if our styles complement each other. I think fundamentally we both do a few things well that are important in doubles and we try and make the most of those. We’ll take what we can and see what else we can scrap out. I guess if anything I’m kind of the rock and Joe’s a little flashier out there.
NL: How have you developed as a player throughout your career at Hopkins?
AG: Honestly I think I grew the most as a player in terms being able to live with my doubts and either change so that I don’t have those same doubts or being able to assure myself that I don’t necessarily need to be held back by those doubts. Playing tennis before Hopkins I really only had like one gear — no good or bad days, just sort flatlined my way through junior tennis. And for better or for worse, now I know when I have better or worse days and how that affects me emotionally and what I can do in those cases.
NL: What does the team have to do to prepare for Conference play?
AG: Honestly nothing that special. We didn’t graduate too many guys and our team overall is definitely more experienced than it was last year. If we just keep doing what we’ve been doing I think we’ll be in pretty good shape.
NL: What are your personal goals and the team’s goals for the season?
AG: Team goals — Elite Eight for sure. I think that’s on everybody’s mind. In my time here, we’d always make it to the tournament, play a solid but beatable school in the first round and then one of the top seeds in the Sweet 16 and bow out.
This year’s a little different because again it’s almost the same team but everyone has a little more experience so we have that much better of an idea of what it takes to win once we get to that stage. As far as personal goals, I really just want to make individual NCAAs, most likely for doubles for now but I have my eye on singles as well if the opportunity arises. Other than that, I guess just to help my team move forward.
The Blue Jays will take on the Washington and Lee Generals this upcoming Sunday, March 10. Play is set to begin at noon.