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Men’s Tennis Says Goodbye to Senior Members

By Daniel Herrick

That is all: Skippy Faber ''14 and Michael Korn ''14 competing in their final season at Kalamazoo College. Both members are seniors.

After defeating Grove City 5-0 in the first round of NCAA regional play last Friday, the Men’s Tennis team fell 5-0 to Case Western Reserve in the second round on Saturday.

The Spartans proved their number two regional ranking and number nine national ranking as they handled the Hornets with little issue. After winning all three double’s matches, Case received wins at number’s one and three singles to complete the 5-0 sweep.

The defeat marked the end of the season for the Men’s Tennis team and the end of a career for three seniors: Peter Rothstein, Mike Korn, and Skippy Faber. Korn and Faber were both four-year players at K, while Rothstein transferred into K for his sophomore season from Johns Hopkins. Whether they played three years or four, all of the seniors felt blessed to be a part of this team and this program.

“It’s a great feeling to know that I contributed four years to our history,” said Korn. “I hope that I was able to not only have an influence on these last four years, but also on the future players going forward as well.”

“It’s special being part of something that means so much to so many different generations,” said Rothstein. “It mean’s a lot because it is bigger than just one year’s team, it means something to 76 years of teams. Each year I was playing for the hundreds of men that have played at K.”

Being a part of the legacy is something that these three won’t soon forget. It occupied a special place for all three during their time at K and they would be quick to recommend their program to future generations of players.

“I would advise any recruit to give K a long look,” said Faber. “It’s a winning atmosphere where a chance to play in the NCAA tournament is but guaranteed every year.”

“If you’re an in-state player, unless you’re a superstar, like D-I level,” said Korn. “K is the school for you. I don’t know why you would look anywhere else.”

History and resources are of course factors that speak well for K, but the players feel that Coach Riley should absolutely be mentioned as one of the main reasons for attending K.

“He’s a very experienced coach, but he’s more than a coach,” said Korn. “He treats you not just as a player, but as a person. He’s very interested in your development both on and off the court.”

“He brings out the best in players and makes the entire experience of playing college tennis much more enjoyable,” said Faber. “Which is a lot more than what can be said for other programs.”

Rothstein had the unique opportunity to play for two college tennis programs and provides a unique perspective on the K program because of it.

“At Hopkins, there was no winning tradition. After graduation, it was the end of Hopkins tennis,” said Rothstein. “At K, you are in the family for life.”

76 – 0

By Daniel Herrick

With an 8-1 victory over Alma College last Wednesday, the Men’s Tennis team clinched the MIAA regular season title outright and extended their infamous conference championship streak to 76 years. The victory completed an undefeated run through the MIAA regular season, ensuring that the 2014 Hornets sit alone atop the league just one year after a three-team split for the title between Kalamazoo, Calvin and Hope.

“Because of our program’s history, there’s a lot riding on keeping the streak alive, so it’s always one of our top priorities to have a strong performance in conference season play,” said senior Michael Korn.

The undefeated run in the MIAA places the Hornets as the potential host for two matches in this week’s MIAA tournament. K will host Albion College on Thursday at 4:00 p.m., with the winner moving on to the final. Hope, the number two ranked team in the league, will host Adrian on the same day before the two winners meet the following day at the home of the highest-remaining seed.

While the regular season title ensured the continuation of the 76-year MIAA championship streak, a win in the MIAA tournament is necessary for the Hornets to receive the conference’s automatic berth to the NCAA tournament.

“NCAAs are where we set our sights early in the year and are the pinnacle of the season,” said Korn. “Right now, all of our focus is on earning our spot in the tournament and trying to put together everything we’ve learned this season.”

The automatic berth is likely the Hornets only path to the NCAA tournament. The April 10 ITA rankings had Kalamazoo as the 11th-ranked school in the region. Since April 10, the Hornets have lost two matches: at home to Division-I neighbor Western Michigan and a neutral site competition against Gustavus Adolphus (the 4th-ranked school in the central region by the ITA).

While fans have come to expect MIAA wins from the Hornets, K will still have to compete and win the MIAA tournament if they want to ensure the continuation of their season. And for a trio of Hornets in particular, an MIAA tournament win is necessary to ensure their K tennis careers do not end at the hands of an MIAA opponent.

“Our season goals have all been set around our performance in these last two weeks,” said Korn.

Kalamazoo enters the first-round matchup with Albion as the heavy favorite after defeating the Britons on the road in early April: 8-1. Albion’s number-three double’s team was the only match victor for the Britons on that day.

The Hornets handily dispatched both potential final’s match ups as well this season. Neither Hope, nor Adrian was able to take a match from the Hornets as they secured two 9-0 victories.

While the Hornets will enter the tournament as the heavy favorite, those that were a part of last year’s team understand not to take any opponent lightly, and that one day, and one lapse, is all that is necessary to potentially derail a season.

“We have been working hard toward our season and personal goals all year, and it is very important for me, and the team, that we finish on a high note,” said Korn.

Kalamazoo will host Albion College to open the MIAA tournament on Thursday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. If the Hornets defeat the Britons, they will be back in action against the winner of Adrian/Hope with the conference’s automatic berth to the NCAA’s at stake.

Men’s Tennis Aims To Keep Streak Alive

By Daniel Herrick

The Men’s Tennis team’s four-game winning streak came to an end when they lost 7-2 at home to the University of Chicago last Sunday. The Hornets were defeated in all three double’s matches before dropping four of the six singles matches. Brandon Metzler was victorious at one singles (6-2, 6-2), and junior David DeSimone secured a point at four singles (6-4, 6-2).

The match was a brief break in the team’s conference schedule before they will travel to Hope on Tuesday (April 8). Kalamazoo will enter the match with a perfect 4-0 record in the MIAA and will be looking to put a stamp on history for this year’s team. A win would guarantee the Hornets a share of the MIAA championship, extending their infamous championship streak to 76 years.

“We know that this match can continue the streak and that Hope, like the rest of the MIAA, will give us their best match,” said senior Skippy Faber. “We know not to take anything lightly. The first goal of our season is always to secure a conference championship.”

Following the matchup at Hope, the team will play host to our much larger neighbor in a cross-division competition with Division I Western Michigan. The matchup with Western is a yearly event that allows the team to compete against the highest level of competition in college tennis. This is a common event for Division III competitors and is seen by other Kalamazoo College sports, including Men’s Soccer and Basketball.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to test ourselves against a big Division-one program,” said Faber. “However, we treat it like any other match. We go in with a mindset that if we play our game, and play our best tennis, do the little things right, then we feel that we can challenge the best.”

The Hornets will finish out the week with another home matchup against Gustavus Adolphus. The Golden Gusties were ranked number 18 in the ITA national ranking released on March 27. Their number one singles player, Mya Smith-Dennis, was ranked number eight in the region in the same release of rankings. In order to qualify for the national single’s or double’s tournament, a player must be ranked in the top eight of their region.

Kalamazoo number one Brandon Metzler, ranked number 11 in the region, is currently trending up toward that number eight spot for a chance to compete at nationals. Against Chicago, Metzler was able to secure a solid win by defeating number 16 in the region Deepak Sebada. A reported turf-toe injury denied Metzler the opportunity to match up with number-four Sven Kranz.

Since the release of the rankings, Smith-Dennis has gone 1-3, all while playing at two singles. It’s unclear whether he will be the matchup for Metzler at one singles come Sunday. Playing one singles for the Gusties over that stretch has been regionally ranked number-25 John Luis Chu.

While the rest of us look forward, the team is still focused on the current moment. Hope College is next up and a chance the secure the conference championship is on the line. Following the match against Hope, if the weather continues to cooperate, the Hornets will host Western Michigan at Stowe Stadium on Thursday evening at 6:00 pm.