The Case Western Reserve men’s tennis team was met with mixed results over the weekend. As two matches were cancelled due to rainy conditions, the other two were split (with one win over Oberlin College on April 4 and a loss versus Carnegie Mellon University on April 5) to bring their season record to 11-5.
The Spartans started off red hot against the Oberlin College Yeomen, sweeping the day’s matches for a 9-0 victory. Spartans Christopher Krimbill, John Healey and Derek Reinbold all ended the day 2-0, winning both singles and doubles matches. The team didn’t lose a set all day as they capitalized on the indoor setting to play their best tennis.
However, things wouldn’t go as easily for the team as it faced off against Carnegie Mellon University on Saturday, April 5 at the Cleveland Skating Club in Shaker Heights. The men got off to a promising start, taking all three doubles courts with definitive scores of 8-3 for each match. But the Spartans ran into trouble during the singles portion of the day. Krimbill took his singles match to bring the Spartans to a 4-1 lead after an earlier singles loss.
It all went downhill from there. The team needed one more win to take the match, but court after court fell to the Tartan squad as they went on their way to overtaking the Spartans in national rankings. The team knew that singles would be a challenge with one of their top players, Eric Klawitter, sitting the session out with an injury. With one player out of the line-up, the rest of the team was called on to step up; a call that went unanswered against this difficult team.
Head coach Todd Wojtkowski was disappointed in the team’s inability to close out the lower-ranked team. “It was a tale of two matches,” said Wojtkowski. “It’s like we had the ball at the five-yard line five times and we got two field goals.” But the coach is confident that the team can still pull out a successful end to their season.
The theme of struggles late in the season leading to doubt among the team is consistent with past years. Late injuries and other academic issues have often left the team feeling uncertain of their place in the division and national rankings, but Wojtkowski is confident that the team will live up to his expectations when they feel the championship pressure at the end of the month. “We haven’t had our full line-up yet or been able to play as a team. But they always seem to come through. Everyone’s really anxious and looking forward to the next matches.”
The men’s team will join the women’s tennis squad on a road trip to the University of Chicago, where they will face off against the host team as well as Washington University in St. Louis next weekend. Both of these teams are nationally ranked, providing a challenging trip for the Spartans.
This meet will be a taste of things to come as the team heads to the UAA championship at the end of April. There are currently seven schools among the UAA conference with a national ranking among Division III schools. Although Case currently is ranked the fourth highest among these fierce competitors, there’s room for them to either move up or down as they look to make another NCAA championship.