The Wheaton Thunder men’s tennis team traveled to central Florida for their four-game spring break trip. Coming off a three-game winning streak, the Thunder (3-3) looked to ride this momentum into their first match against Moravian College on Monday Mar. 6.
The Thunder maintained their momentum in a flawless 9-0 victory against Moravian College (1-6). The team started off the afternoon impressively handing three consecutive 8-0 victories by doubles partners seniors Justin Ancona and Matt Steiner, sophomore Dane Paulsen and freshmen Jeremiah Yi, and sophomore Josh Cheng and junior Karl Wenzel. Impressively, Wheaton did not give up more than two games per set.
The next night Wheaton extended its win streak to five matches by defeating Oglethorpe University (3-6) in a 7-2 decision. Ancona and Steiner continued their strong play with a victory at #1 doubles. Paulsen and Yi followed by falling in a close 8-6 decision. The doubles matches concluded as Cheng and freshmen Andrew Bristol earned an 8-4 victory, giving Wheaton a 2-1 lead heading into singles.
The Thunder stayed aggressive as Ancona, Paulsen, Steiner and Yi won the first four singles matches. Cheng suffered a hard-fought loss to Matthew Magee at #5 singles. The Thunder capped of the match with senior Andrew Torok’s 6-1, 6-2 victory in the final singles match.
When asked about what kept the team fueled throughout the break, Dane Paulsen explained, “Our coach is a big fan of Jason’s Deli, so we went there a lot. We also went to McDonalds every night which was right by our hotel.”
The Thunder’s five-match win streak went on to get snapped in a closely competed 5-4 loss to Rhodes College (9-2) on March 8. Ancona and Steiner began the afternoon with an 8-5 victory but the Thunder went on to fall in the next two doubles matches. Down 2-1 heading into singles, the Thunder excitingly bounced back to hold a 3-2 lead after Ancona and Paulsen’s victories in the first two singles matches. The Thunder and Rhodes split the next two singles and Rhodes went on to take the last two singles, earning a narrow 5-4 victory over the Thunder.
Wheaton’s Florida trip concluded with a match against nationally ranked Coe College (12-3) on Thursday night, March 9. Ancona and Steiner’s 8-2 victory at #1 doubles followed with two consecutive losses in the last two doubles matches. Wheaton rebounded by tying the match 3-3 after Ancona and Paulsen’s singles wins. The match concluded with Wheaton falling in the last four singles matches to give Coe College the 6-3 decision.
“I am proud of how hard each of my teammates fought to make Coe earn every point on the court,” said Cheng after the match.
By the end of the trip, the Thunder’s record was 5-5. The team looks to bounce back as they compete for the conference title this upcoming April, a second-place finish in 2016.