In the past two seasons, Boys Varsity Tennis did not lose a single regular season match. This year, they’re living up to that same caliber with an undefeated start.
The team has played eight matches so far, including two in California on their Spring break trip, Yesh Nikam (10) said. “Our matches in California were close, but we’re solid throughout our whole lineup,” he said.
“After our two wins against seasoned Cali teams, we started off our regular season with a match against the next best team in the Ivy League, Riverdale, which we dominated 4-1, setting ourselves up for another undefeated regular season,” Connor Morris (12) said.
“Beating Riverdale 4-1 was also a big win. We all had tough matches, but we stuck through it in the end,” Robert Werdiger (11) said.
Each year, every player improves, Bradley Bennett (10) said. Though they lost three seniors, their top three players remain on the roster, he said.
Nikam believes the makeup of this year’s team is similar to last year’s, he said. “We lost two starters, but our freshmen have handled filling their places well.”
“Everyone’s stepped it up. Bradley has been undefeated in the league so far, and Yesh and Damion have entered our lineup as strong doubles,” Werdiger said.
“Bradley trained intensely during the offseason, and his natural instinct to win is coming out fiercely,” Morris said. “He’s definitely stepped up as an aggressive and reliable singles player.”
There are 12 members on the team, and it’s a good mix throughout the grades, Nikam said. “The juniors are the real rock of the team, and they help carry us through a lot of our matches,” Nikam said.
This weekend, the team will compete in the New York Invitational, in which the best teams in the Tri-State area play in a winner-takes-all format, Nikam said. “We’ve never participated in it before, so we’re excited to play some really good teams–teams we’ve never even seen before,” Nikam said.
Later in the season, the team will compete in the Ivy League playoffs. “I’m looking forward to it because of the intensity; everyone always gets so into it,” Bennett said. “Obviously the regular matches are always spirited, but we try to take it to a new level in the playoffs,” he said.
The team is also looking forward to the Mayor’s Cup, where the top tier teams from New York State compete. “Last year, we progressed to finals, but that’s where we lost,” Nikam said. “Hopefully, this year, we can win it all.”
Though the team has won Ivies both last year and the year before that, they’ve lost in the finals of the Mayor’s Cup to Beacon both times. This year, they have the opportunity to change that, Morris said.
“I’ve been to the finals of Mayor’s Cup every year since I was a freshman, and now as a senior, with a lot of love for the Horace Mann tennis team, I want nothing more than to win Mayor’s Cup, and this year we have a team capable of doing it,” Morris said.