Sports, Tennis

Tennis Notebook: Both teams vying to return to conference finals

Both Boston University men’s and women’s tennis are in the midst of their respective seasons and are once again poised to contend for the Patriot League Championship. 

Sophomore Patriot League Rookie of the Year Corey Craig prepares to serve in a match against Bentley on Sunday. Men’s and women’s tennis are looking to return to the Patriot League finals this year as the runner-up and defending champions, respectively. KATE KOTLYAR/DFP PHOTOGRAPHER

The women’s team will look to repeat as PL Champions, as coach Lesley Sheehan’s team attempts to win three of the last four trophies. They will be in a strong position to do so, with sophomore Emily Zhao, reigning PL Rookie of the Year, and senior Victoria Carlsten, 2022 PL Player of the Year, in position for another successful individual season.

For the men’s team, a promising squad led by sophomore phenom and reigning PL Rookie of the Year Corey Craig will look to finish the job this year after losing in the PL final last season. 

After losing a doubleheader to Dartmouth on Jan. 28 following an opening season win against Merrimack, the men’s team has been flying since. In their last three matches, they have dominated the opposition, collecting 18 of 21 points in singles and doubles.  

“This year, honestly, I’m playing a lot more confident, but I’m also playing disciplined where I don’t miss stupid errors,” Craig said.

He has looked to ride the momentum from last year, where he went 13-5 from the second spot and finished the year on a six match winning streak. Craig has so far started the year undefeated on dual playing at the team’s top spot, but he has gotten tons of help to put the team’s win percentage near over 56%. 

Sophomore and Amherst College transfer Jacob Esterowitz has begun his tenure as a Terrier with a 6-2 record playing at the second spot. Craig and Esterowitz have amazed in doubles together, where they’ve gone 8-2 in 11 matches.

Doubles is an area head coach Dejan Stankovic wants his team to improve on. In fact, he believes that since he can’t “see anybody who can beat us in singles,” getting a rhythm in doubles will help the squad reach the title they’ve thirsted for. 

For example, take the pairing of junior Cole Knutsen and senior Jonah Dickson. The duo has sped out to an 11-6 record so far in doubles. This might not affect team standings, but shows that some puzzle pieces might have fallen into place for the Terriers.

“A few key players that didn’t play doubles last year because they were injured, I think that having those guys back and having the team basically one year older and having 9 [of]13, I think that’s a huge step to winning doubles,” Stankovic said.

Now moving onto a women’s team that swept Army West Point in last year’s PL Championship and has high aspirations for a back-to-back championship run. In her 38th season as the Terriers’ head coach, Sheehan aims to continue dominating and earn her 29th PL title.

So far this year, in all but one of their six wins, the team has swept all the points. Outside of their losses to Dartmouth, Boston College and Charlotte, the squad has dominated on the court.

“We play a lot of tough matches as well,” Sheehan said. “Even if we get beat, it really helps our game.”

To continue the success, the team is leaning onto their top-to-bottom starpower, which suffered a blow by the departure of graduate student Shelly Yaloz. Yaloz won 75% of her games at the top court last season, and was also named PL Scholar Athlete of the Year. With that said, this squad doesn’t lack talent. 

Carlsten, a power player as her coach describes, has started 4-2 on dual playing at the No. 2 spot but also has a strong tour record of 8-4. Zhao, who has a great offensive tool kit and can play many shots, has sat nicely at the No. 5 and 6 spot with a combined 4-0 record.

Once again, this is a very complete singles team. 

The Terriers have gotten great output from junior Michelle Kleynerman at the No. 1 slot, where she’s gone 4-2 on dual matches but just like Carlsten has an impressive tour record of 8-2. 

Senior captain Kaitlin Tan has won five of her six matches playing in the third court, and provides invaluable experience and leadership for Sheehan’s squad. 

Freshman Uma Bakaityte has also had an amazing start to her collegiate career, having won 10 of her 13 matches so far. 

On the topic of recruiting the right players like Bakaityte, coach Sheehan explained why that’s a reason she enjoys coaching her alma mater.

“I get this motivated student, but also this motivated athlete, and that’s why it’s so fun for me coaching at BU, because they are so motivated to do well,” Sheehan said.

More Articles

Comments are closed.