Fresh off last weekend’s 6–1 sweep at UNC-Charlotte, men’s tennis (5–2) will head to Ithaca, NY for the 2020 Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC)’s Division I Men’s Indoor Tennis Championship from Friday, Feb. 14 until Sunday, Feb. 16. The No. 4 seeded Princeton will take on No. 5 University of Pennsylvania in the first round. Whoever wins will take on the No. 1 seed Harvard University in the semifinals.
Last year Penn won the championship after a close match against Harvard. They were seeded No. 5, just like this year.
“All of the teams we’ll be playing are good. Harvard is really good, and Dartmouth will also be good,” said senior Payton Holden, a captain on the team. “Every match will be tough.”
Tigers lost to Harvard and Dartmouth in the semifinals and third-place match of last year’s tournament, respectively. The Crimson beat Princeton 4–2 and Dartmouth dominated the team 4–0 on the final day of the ECAC tournament. The Tigers’ only win came from their first round match against Yale 4–3 in the first found after now-sophomores Bill Duo and Karl Poling, now-junior Ryan Seggerman, and now-senior Davey Roberts pulled through in their singles matches.
Holden and Seggerman as a doubles pair are ranked No. 8 in the country according to the most recent Oracle/Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) doubles rankings. Doubles duo first-years Thomas Bosancic and sophomore Justin Barki are ranked No. 40. No Princeton player has made it onto the ITA’s Top 125 list yet this season.
If history is any indication of Friday’s match against the Quakers, Princeton should do just fine. The Tigers have a lopsided record of 95–15–1 against Penn and won their most recent meeting, last year at Lenz Tennis Center (an outdoor court), 5–2.
This weekend’s road trip is nothing for the well-travelled team. In the fall they travelled to Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Texas, Florida, California, and North Carolina. Even in the past two weeks they’ve been to South Carolina and back to Wisconsin and North Carolina. Away matches and tournaments make it difficult to find a balance between tennis and academics.
“For myself and Davey [Roberts], we have a lot of thesis stuff coming up,” said Holden. “And so managing our time on has been super important.”
According to Holden, the tournament in New York this weekend is no different.
“We’re dealing with schoolwork this week and on the road trying to make sure that when we’re there everything is focused on tennis,” Holden said.
This laser focus on tennis during matches is critical to winning, and a barrier between school and play is key for athletes like Holden to succeed.
“One thing our coaches and I try to preach is that when you’re on the court you’re only thinking about tennis and when you’re off the court you’re only thinking about school,” said the captain. “We try to separate that to make sure that we can perform our best both inside the classroom and on the court.”