By Graham Lucas
Ohio Wesleyan men’s tennis has accumulated a 4-9 record, but still stands second in the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) East division with two more conference divisional matches left in the season.
The Battling Bishops are 1-1 in NCAC East matches. The team has divisional matches against Allegheny on April 9 and Kenyon on April 21.
The Battling Bishops were predicted to finish eighth in the conference in the NCAC coaches’ preseason poll. Seven of eight NCAC men’s tennis teams have a better total record than the Battling Bishops. Senior Matt Swaim said the team’s road to the NCAC tournament is just beginning.
“The first step was beating Wooster on Wednesday,” Swaim said. “Now we need to look to get as high of a seeding in the NCAC tournament as possible by winning a few games in the next couple weeks and then putting together our best tennis at Oberlin in the tournament.”
The team lost four out of their five scheduled matches over spring break in Hilton Head, S.C. All of those losses also came from non-conference opponents.
Senior William Thieman said tennis is a rigorous sport.
“Tennis is difficult in many ways,” Thieman said. “First, you never take a break. There isn’t a halftime or stoppage points, so it can be a very demanding sport. Second, it can be difficult because you are all alone on the court, and you have to figure out what to change if you’re losing, and what to do differently to get back on track.”
Junior Richie Karban is currently the NCAC men’s tennis Player of the Week. Karban earned the distinction following a number-three singles victory at Cedarville University, along with wins in number-two singles and doubles, and number-one doubles team against Wooster last week.
Sophomore Conor Breen, together with Thieman, has won two matches in number-three doubles. Thieman said good chemistry is vital between doubles partners.
“Just like in any sport, you have to know where your teammate is going to be in a certain situation or if he’s going to take a certain shot,” Thieman said. “Also, if the chemistry is there, you’re going to play that much harder for you partner.”
The Battling Bishops face off against Allegheny on Saturday in an NCAC East competition that will determine divisional rankings and post-season implications.