Both the Drexel University men’s and women’s tennis teams completed in the Saint Joseph’s invitational this past weekend. The men’s performance was highlighted by the play of freshman Sinan Orhon, who advanced to the Flight 1 semifinals in his first collegiate play. In the first flight, he cruised past his opponents in straight sets with the third game being on in three sets. In the singles Flight 2, Xabier Saavedra lost his opening match in three sets before winning the next two consolation ladder matches. He went on to lose the final consolation ladder match in three sets.
In the doubles games, the first flight saw the Dragons team, Balaji Lakshmanan and Sinan Orhon, winning the first round edging their opponents 9-8 before falling to Saint Joseph’s University in the quarterfinals, 8-3. In the second flight, teammates Kashyap Ashok and Xabier Saavedra faced a similar track winning in the first round before getting blanked in the quarterfinals, 8-5. In the third doubles match, Daniil Ginzburg and Vuk Subotic made it all the way to the semifinals. After being edged out in the first round 9-8, they won in the consolation quarter ladder match before losing in the semifinals, 8-2.
Head Coach Mehdi Rhazali was on point in describing the need for experience and growth for the team.
“The men are a young team, and we have some top players that are injured. I still think we could have done better at the Saint Joseph’s Invitational. I think we were nervous because some of the players were competing for the first time as Dragons. We have some new pairs for doubles that haven’t played together before. At this point we know what we need to work on. We need to better our preparation, mental toughness and team chemistry.”
The Drexel women’s team came into the Quinnipiac Invitational fresh off their record fifteen win season last year. The play began in Flight A singles when Lea Winkler won her first singles game in three sets before losing the next one in similar fashion. Junior transfer Honami Yazawa made her on court debut winning her first two matches before falling in the final match to Ursinus College. Flight B singles matches got off to a rocky start as Erin Bowsher lost her opening match in straight sets before winning her next two in the consolation ladders. The win streak would stop at two in the loss in the third consolation game.
The real accomplishment was when Clary Rodriguez Cruz reeled off four straight two set wins to be the Flight B Singles champion. In the Flight C singles matches, Kendra Bunch made it to the semifinals before losing to the University of Connecticut in straight sets. Freshman Anisiya Simpson won her first to games as well before falling in the semifinals against UConn as well.
The doubles game went off to a nice tart for the duo of Simpson and Cruz, winning their first match 6-1 before losing in the quarterfinals. Erin Bowsher and Honami Yazawa had more success in their doubles endeavors as they ratcheted off three straight wins to make it to the finals before losing 6-1. The doubles achievement came with Lea Winkler and Kendra Bunch ran through the matches with convincing victories in route to be Flight B Doubles champions.
Coach Rhazali was very excited about the team’s performance over the weekend.
“The weekend went well for women’s tennis, the women are experienced and it will come down to their maturity level, making good decisions and competing at a high level on a consistent basis. We won both flights of doubles and two flights of singles. It was a good tournament for us and a good start to the year. The next tournament is the Cissie Leary Invitational at UPenn and the Villanova Invite. We have an extra week to regroup and clean up our game a little more. Starting the school year with no academic conflicts is also important. We need to put all of these factors together in order to perform and prepare well for the next two invitationals,” Rhazali said.
The men’s team will have live action Oct.10 when they head to Princeton, New Jersey for the Princeton Invitational. The women’s team meanwhile will play the Cissie Leary Invitational and Villanova Invitational starting Oct. 2.