Sports | Tennis

Men's Tennis splits up on road trips to Princeton and Alabama

Men’s tennis will head to Tuscaloosa for the Alabama Invitational and to Princeton for the Ivy Plus Invitational this weekend.

Coming off a successful start to the season at the Penn Invitational, the team will split up, with the underclassmen traveling to Alabama and the upperclassmen heading to Princeton.

Associate head coach Howie Endelman will take the underclassmen to Tuscaloosa, looking to build on the strong start. The team will take on Tulane, Alabama, and Memphis, all of which enjoyed varying degrees of success a season ago. 

“It’s going to be a good tournament,” Goswami said. “We hope that the guys will take advantage of getting to play consistently and getting more points.”

First-years Jackie Tang, Adam Ambrozy, and Alex Keyser all made their college debuts last weekend in Philadelphia, each demonstrating an ability to quickly adapt to the climate of a more competitive brand of tennis. 

“I want the first-years to really see how a team match is played,” Goswami said. “So this is the perfect opportunity for them to get a chance to play, and play against tough competition in a team setting.”

Joining the first-years are sophomores Victor Pham, Timothy Wang, who started last year for the Light Blue.. Pham, who anchored the second spot for much of the season, is projected to remain there, hoping to help lead the top of the lineup this season. Wang, who is expected to move up in the lineup, has capitalized on his hard work in the offseason, demonstrating an ability to perform in the clutch. 

While sophomore Will Matheson did not get a chance to crack the lineup a year ago, his dominant play a weekend ago, when he went undefeated in singles and doubles play, has provided a solid foundation for him going forward.

As head coach Bid Goswami takes the rest of the team to Princeton, he will look to Endelman to provide guidance for the younger players, who will face a harsh climate—temperatures in Tuscaloosa are projected to soar up to 95 degrees—as well as tough opponents.

In Princeton, the upperclassmen, including seniors Shawn Hadavi, Richard Pham, and Miguel Alda, will take on players from all Ancient Eight schools as well as various other schools across the region, facing Penn State, St. John's, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Wisconsin, among others.

Hadavi, ranked No. 55 in the most recent ITA rankings, will look to prove his mettle against a deep field with the likes of South Carolina’s No. 30 Gabriel Friedrich and Tennessee’s No. 89 Timo Stodder, all of whom are competing within Hadavi’s Tiger Draw. 

“I’m looking forward to Shawn getting a chance to play against tough competition,” Goswami said. “In doubles, Rich [Pham] and Shawn are ranked No. 7 in the country, and they are the number one seed, so everyone will be gunning for them. So I think it will be a very interesting tournament for us.”

Pham and Alda will also compete in individual draws, with Pham capturing the fifth position in the Lenz Draw and Alda capturing the fifth position in the Nassau Draw.

The three seniors will not be joined by fellow senior Christopher Grant, who continues to recover from a strained medial collateral ligament and  hopes to return to the court in a few weeks. 

“Booie [Grant] is quickly recovering from a little strain in his knee, but other than that, the team looks healthy and ready to go for the weekend,” Goswami said.

The Lions will begin play on Friday at 10 a.m. in Tuscaloosa and 9 a.m. in Princeton.

christopher.lopez@columbiaspectator.com | @CUSpecSports

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