To prepare for the upcoming SUNYAC tournament for the Geneseo tennis team, head coach Jim Chen scheduled matches against teams that would challenge the Knights. The Knights lost their first match of the season to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute 5-4 on Saturday Oct. 5, coming back the next day to beat Division I Siena College by the same margin.
“These are difficult teams. We thought these [teams] were going to represent quite a challenge. Purposely, we wanted tough matches,” Chen said.
Geneseo played the match against the Engineers without junior Dexuan Yuan. To fill in, sophomore Harpreet Aujla stepped into Dexuan Yuan’s spot on the second doubles team, and freshman Veronica Skolnick played at sixth singles to compensate for the normal third through sixth players moving up a spot in the lineup.
RPI opened strong with three doubles victories. Sophomore Marylen Santos and junior Amanda Rosati had the best showing in doubles against RPI, losing on a tiebreak 9-8 (5) at first doubles. First and sixth singles were both decided in straight sets, as Santos defeated her opponent 6-3, 6-4 and Skolnick lost 6-0, 6-1.
The good news of the day came in second through fifth singles, as each went to three sets. Geneseo won three of these contests, with Rosati winning at second singles 4-6, 6-0, 7-5, freshman Karli Hollins taking third singles 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 and junior Minxuan Yuan winning her fifth singles match 5-7, 7-5, 6-2.
The deciding match came at fourth singles, in which freshman Maggie Hale took the first set before falling 6-7 (2), 6-3, 6-2.
Even though it was the Knights’ first loss of the season, Chen commended his team, saying, “I really have to sing the praises of the team because when you are down 3-0 in doubles, you have to win five out of six remaining matches. It’s a daunting process … This team has demonstrated fight.”
The following day, the Knights faced the Saints of Siena College, a Division I school not normally on Geneseo’s schedule.
“Most of the players are on scholarship. They are significant players … They may not compare to Stanford [University], but they are hitting the ball very hard. The fact that we can compete with them and beat them is really a testament to the quality of our team.”
Although Hale and Hollins won 8-0 at third doubles, Geneseo entered the singles matches down 2-1. Due to injuries to both teams, Chen and the Saints’ coach agreed to have Dexuan Yuan and Hale’s opponent default their respective second and sixth singles matches, bringing the score to 3-2.
Once again, the singles matches were hotly contested, with two of the matches going to a third set. While Minxuan Yuan lost at fifth singles 6-1, 7-5, Santos won at first singles 6-2, 2-6, 6-1, Rosati took third singles 6-4, 6-4 and Hollins clinched the match with a 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 fourth singles victory.
Geneseo returns to the court on Friday Oct. 11 when the team seeks to win a SUNYAC championship title.