Men’s Tennis shut out by Lake Forest

The Lawrence Men’s Tennis team was defeated 0-9 in their Saturday, April 22 home matchup against the second-seeded Lake Forest Bears. The loss marked their second straight loss against Lake Forest and their third straight loss in conference play this season. The Vikings’ record drops to 4-13 on the season, and 2-3 in conference plays a big hit in their momentum boost from earlier in the season, where they went on a three-game winning streak and opened conference play with a 2-0 record.  

Before diving into the results, I’ll briefly explain how college tennis matches work. Prior to the match, the coaches choose a ranked lineup of six  singles and three  doubles—nine  matches in total, each with a point up for grabs for the victor. The two schools then play the nine matches, and whoever has more points at the end is declared the winner of the matchup. 

The two teams started off the morning with the doubles matchups. The first doubles saw Lawrence’s Dylan Delgado and Andrew Larson, both sophomores, face off against Lake Forest’s Oleksyi Vyshyvanyuk and Daniel Tulchinskiy. The Lake Forest duo started off the match strong, utilizing Vyshyvanyuk’s strong serves to force weak returns. This, coupled with quick decisive play at the net, allowed them to jump to an early lead, from which Delgado and Larson could not recover, despite valiant effort. The match ended 8-2 in favor of the Bears. The second and third doubles matches saw similar results, with first-year Hikaru Takemura and sophomore Rahul Sabnis and first-years Yuming Zhang and Dillon Grade losing their fixtures 2-8 and 1-8 respectively. 

Hikaru Takemura returns an opponent’s hit. Photo provided by Lawrence Athletics website.

After the doubles matches, the teams transitioned to the singles lineups. Larson faced off against Vyshyvanyuk at the number one  spot and was defeated 1-6, 0-6. The Lake Forest number one’s strong serves and precise groundstrokes proved too much to handle, just as it was in the doubles matchup earlier. Takemura fell at the number two spot to Tulchinsky 0-6, 0-6 and at No. 3 Delgado was defeated 1-6, 2-6.  

The bottom half of the singles fixtures went similarly; number four Zhang fell in a 1-6, 0-6 decision and number five Sabnis lost his matchup 1-6, 3-6. However, perhaps the most notable fixture of the day was sophomore Jonah Friedmann at No. 6. This showing marked his first collegiate tennis match, and despite the pressure and the newness of the experience, he put up the strongest effort of the day against his rival – he lost 4-6, 5-7, forcing his opponent to extra games in the second set.  

The next game for Lawrence holds much importance; it marks the final and most important game of the season before the top four teams battle for the conference championship in a tournament in Peoria, Ill.. The Vikings are currently tied for fourth place with Ripon College with records of 2-3 in conference play, and Ripon is coincidentally their next and final fixture of regular season play. This means the final game of the season for both teams will be a deathmatch—a win means entry to the tournament, while the loser will go home with their season ended and their hands empty. Will this young Vikings tennis team turn the tide in this dramatic playoff and represent Lawrence in the conference tournament?