In the short span of less than a decade, the Geneseo tennis team has gone from mere afterthought to formidable competitor on the regional stage. This progress showed on the weekend of Sept. 28, as the Knights competed in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Northeast Regional Championships at William Smith College. Head coach Jim Chen said that Geneseo has not competed at the tournament recently due to a lack of competitiveness on the Knights’ part.
“Five, six, seven years ago, we would never win a match at this tournament,” Chen said in a phone interview.
In the doubles portion of the tournament, the normal third doubles team of freshmen Karli Hollins and Maggie Hale beat a team from Bard College 8-4 in the first round. Their next opponents, from Skidmore College, defeated Hollins and Hale 8-0, although Chen noted that this was Skidmore’s first doubles team.
The other Geneseo doubles pairing juniors Amanda Rosati and Minxuan Yuan lost their first match but recovered to win against Nazareth College’s first doubles team before losing in the quarterfinals of the consolation bracket. The win was especially noteworthy considering that the pair does not usually play together; Rosati’s usual partner is sophomore Marylen Santos, while Minxuan Yuan is her twin sister Dexuan Yuan.
In singles play, the Knights entered Dexuan Yuan, Rosati and Santos into a very strong 64-player field. Dexuan Yuan, fighting an ankle injury, lost in the first round 7-5, 6-1. Rosati won her first-round match by the same margin and earned the right to play the tournament’s top-seeded player Cristina Nunez of Ithaca College. While Rosati eventually fell 6-1, 6-3, the match was closer than the score indicated, according to Chen. He said that he believes that in a standard team-based match, Rosati would have a shot at beating Nunez.
Geneseo’s most successful player was Santos, who defeated opponents from St. Lawrence University, Elmira College and the College of New Jersey in order to make the quarterfinals, in which she lost to a player from Brooklyn College 6-1, 6-0.
Despite the score, Chen said, Santos’ last match was entertaining, well played and attracted quite the crowd. Coming off of a three-set victory against the College of New Jersey player, Santos “ran out of steam” but still left everything on the court and was able to contest each point.
Overall, Chen and his team came away from the tournament with both confidence and knowledge of areas that need improvement.
“It’s always a measure of where you are in a season when you can go to a tournament like that and play well,” Chen said. “We can hang with the best … I hope the players realize that they did something significant.”
He also said that the doubles teams still need improvement in order to complete the rest of the fall season without any blemishes. Geneseo has two regular season matches left before the SUNYAC tournament. Winning this tournament will automatically qualify the Knights for the NCAA tournament in the spring.