Spring season serves up tough competition for Muhlenberg tennis teams

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Kety Gaidamashvili '26 prepares to serve in a match against Haverford College on March 2. Photo by Sierra Addy '27.

The warm and friendly confines of the Deitrich Field House weren’t quite enough to help Muhlenberg’s men’s and women’s tennis teams win their matches this past Saturday against a group of highly competitive players from Haverford College. It was a difficult day for Muhlenberg as both teams were somewhat outmatched in a string of tough losses. It was the second straight match where the men’s team played a nationally ranked opponent, having faced #13 Swarthmore in their last match. The Haverford College men’s team is currently ranked 38th in the national ranking of Division III programs. The women’s team has had it no easier as they ran into #8 Johns Hopkins in their last match on Feb. 17, and a Haverford team on Saturday that has competed in the last five Centennial Conference semifinals.

Despite losing the past two matches, the future of Muhlenberg’s men’s team, according to newly hired Coach Doug Maynard, is heading in the right direction. Maynard elaborated, “We have a relatively young team with some strong upper-class leadership that will help us continue to learn, grow and continue to come together with each match. Our strong freshmen nucleus will continue to improve as they get more experience throughout the season.” 

The team’s young core was put to the test against Haverford on Saturday as all six players who played in doubles matches were first-years. Josh Benson ‘24 had some high praise for his teammates as a result of their play in the doubles matches. “We can hang with good players when we focus on it and get into the zone. It was also great to see the improvements in our mental game. Owen [Dyer ‘27] and Matt [Miller ‘27] played a great game at second doubles which really brought the energy into their singles matches and both were quite competitive. If we can all play more like they did, things will fall into place.”

Dyer illustrated the mindset of the men’s team looking ahead towards the rest of their season, “From how well we did in this match, it only goes up from here. The teams we play in the future won’t be as challenging as these last two have been so it’s really looking good for us in terms of winning for the rest of the season”. 

After playing against two tough opponents, the Muhlenberg women’s team wants to use the losses as a learning experience. The opportunity to play against top-level talent is important. Alexandra Downey ‘27 stated, “Playing against tough opponents, especially in a mental sport like tennis, is always difficult, but it gives us as players the opportunity to evolve. Being able to evaluate our own and our opponents’ games in the moment is a crucial skill, and playing against teams like Swarthmore and Haverford gives us that valuable experience.” 

Downey continued to reflect on the early season losses, “I want to focus on moving forward from these defeats and using them as launching points for the rest of the season. Skill improvement is just as important as being able to gracefully handle a loss and treat it as an informative experience, and especially considering how early we are in the season, I have full faith that we will take all of our matches, win or loss, as time well spent.”

After playing their matches outdoors in the fall, both the men’s and women’s teams have had to adjust to playing their matches in the field house. This adjustment, along with the idea of working with a new coaching staff has made this season all about adapting to a few new elements. Caitlin Bestrycki ‘26 explained that the women’s team has had to adapt to challenging conditions. “Such adjustments, including the increase in court time that we have been able to attain so far this season, has been a huge advantage, as having only three indoor courts for two teams usually leads towards a slow start to the season. This, however, is not the case and due to the efforts of the coaching staff and leadership of our captains the potential for our future season is limitless.”

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