BU Today

Sports

Men’s Tennis Launches Patriot League Tournament Play Today

Terriers to face Lehigh in quarterfinals at Colgate

+

BU men’s tennis head coach Dejan Stankovic realized what a special team he has this season during a late March 4-2 loss to Georgetown. Without their usual number-one player Satyajit Simhadri (ENG’19) during the singles, the Terriers competed with two sophomores and four freshmen, three of them playing in the first three slots.

The loss of a player can be critical in collegiate tennis, as the rest of the team is forced to bump up a position to compete against players who may be much better than their usual competitors. The young Terriers held their own against the Hoyas, however, winning the first two slots and forcing a three-setter.

“That was an eye-opener for me,” says Stankovic (SED’10,’15). “If we can play like this without our best player, then we’re really good.”

The team has four freshmen starring in its singles lineup, and for them, transitioning into collegiate tennis has required developing a different mind-set. “I only played for myself all my life, so it was a hard transition,” says David Bogatin (Questrom ’21), but he now enjoys team tennis more than individual, he says. “I don’t have to carry all this weight on my shoulders. There are nine of my teammates who will support me whenever I play a match.”

Simhadri says this team attitude has impressed him the most about the newcomers. “Everybody comes from playing tennis as an individual. You don’t play as a team, really,” he says. “We’ve all come from different backgrounds, different environments, yet we’ve all come together as a team.”

The team’s spring season has seen runs of wins and losses: two four-game winning streaks, as well as a streak of seven losses, with one win in the middle. As the Terriers begin Patriot League Tournament play today (they take on Lehigh in the quarterfinals), they are hoping to build another winning streak.

The Terriers came into the season with big expectations. The freshmen class, ranked 17th across mid-major programs according to TennisRecruiting.net, is regarded as one of the strongest in program history. That talent is matched by a disciplined work ethic, with players practicing every morning from 7 to 9 am. “They are hungry to learn everything they need to know and adapt that in the matches,” Stankovic says.

David Bogatin

David Bogatin (Questrom’21) has impressed this season, posting a 22-13 singles record and a 12-17 doubles record.

In their match against Georgetown, the Terriers demonstrated what Stankovic has been looking for all season: mental toughness. “Anybody can win on any given day, and now, what can put us over the edge? I think that it’s all about being mentally tough,” Stankovic says.

Rather than allowing adversities to dictate their play, he says, he has stressed “playing the key points and key situations on our terms. If we can do that, I think we’ll be fine” for this weekend’s tournament. As an example, he cites a win last month against Navy—the Patriot League’s top team—as proof of his players’ mental toughness.

The Terriers lost the doubles point and the first single slot and seemed destined for another loss. The underclassmen, however, were relentless: Bogatin, Owen Lu (CAS’21), and Ethan Kolsky (Questrom’21) all won their lines, positioning Marc Sable (Questrom’20) to capture the 4-3 victory in a three-set match.

The Navy upset was a confidence booster for the team, Bogatin says, helping the Terriers finish the regular season winning six out of their final eight matches. “Navy was a huge confidence-builder for us,” Simhadri says, “because that one showed us that all our hard work, all our waking up at 6 am, all our 7-to-9 practices, all our lessons were for a reason.

The Terriers say they are ready for this weekend’s tournament, the first for many of the players.

“We’re all fighting for one trophy,” Bogatin says. “Every team, no matter how good it is, is going to want to win. They definitely won’t let us have any easy points or win easy matches. We’ll just need to fight for every ball, every point.

“I think we can definitely win,” he says.

The BU men’s tennis team competes against Lehigh in the Patriot League tournament quarterfinals today, April 27. The semifinals are Saturday, April 28, at 10 am, and the championship game is Sunday, April 29, at noon. All events are at the J. W. Abrahamson Tennis Courts, 116 Broad St., Colgate University, Hamilton, N.Y.

Jonathan Chang can be reached at jchang19@bu.edu.

+ Comments

Post Your Comment

(never shown)