Jim McLaughlin, Sports Editor
After earning their first win of the season last Wednesday, the Utica College men’s tennis team fell to Empire 8 rival Hartwick College last Saturday.
The team was led by senior Matt Rogers and sophomore Kevin Vo as they both came away with victories in their singles matches. Vo won in straight sets, (6-1, 6-1) while Rogers fought hard to win as well (6-3, 7-5).
Rogers and Vo both lead the team with a 4-3 singles record this season.
Vo has played well for UC so far this season and his ability to study his opponents has allowed him to win.
“My opponent had a very weak backhand so I figured by constantly attacking his backhand, it would be a good strategy to force him to make a bunch of errors,” Vo said. “Overall, I tried to play very aggressive, landed some big serves, and was able to pull out the easy win.”
Vo also credits head coach John Nigro for his success and the adjustment of playing at the collegiate level in his first season.
“Coach Nigro has helped me most adjusting to the collegiate level. He has me playing at a level I never thought I’d be playing,” Vo said. “Nigro is a great coach and I’m very thankful for how much he has helped me improved my game.”
Senior Jacob Nigolian won four games over two sets (6-3, 6-1) despite losing his match against Hartwick. Senior Edgar Aguilar fell 6-3 6-3 at sixth singles to finish out the day. Aguilar looks to improve for the remainder of the season and come away with a couple more wins.
“I would like to make sure I finish the match and play a little smarter,” he said. “I had some trouble getting myself in the right spot which caused me to miss a few important shots.”
Senior Raphael Warnon won three games dropped his match 6-0, 6-3 and freshman Paul Litvak fell 6-1, 6-1. This is Litvak’s first year on the team and he, like Vo, compliment Nigro and Rogers, the team captain, on helping him make the transition.
“Matt Rogers and Coach Nigro have definitely helped me adjust,” Litvak said. “They have complete faith in me and that’s all I can ask for.”
The team struggled in doubles as Warnon/Vo, Rogers/Nigolian, and Aguilar/Litvak all lost. Despite the loss, the team sticks together and supports one another on and off the court each day.
“We could’ve performed much better but in the end we are a team, and I have support for every one of our guys who steps on the court,” Vo said. “I know this group of guys put a lot of hard work in and tries their best during every practice and every game, and that’s what it’s all about.”
The Pioneers have three more conference matches and they are all on the road. The team has seen improvements each day since the beginning of the season, and looks to finish the season with at least one win.
“There is room for improvement, but looking at previous performances, I think we are becoming a better team,” Aguilar said.
Featured image; Freshman Paul Litvak fell in his match 6-1, 6-1 against Hartwick last Saturday. Photo taken by ucpioneers.com