Hoya tennis looks to turn heads in Big East

April 18, 2012

For Andrew Bruhn, the Georgetown men’s tennis team’s senior leader, letting out an audible “Let’s go!” chant after holding serve, as he did in the first set against Villanova on Saturday, has become the norm. Bruhn, in his last home match at Georgetown, has been the team’s fiery, hard-hitting leader all season.

Nevertheless, the loudest ovation during the match came from Bruhn’s teammate, junior Charlie Caris, who had just finished off the Wildcats’ Matt Colonnese 6-1, 6-1 a few minutes prior.

“Let’s go, Andrew Bruhn!” the men’s tennis number-two player yelled in response to Bruhn’s own exclamation.

Evidently, there’s a trickle-down effect for Bruhn’s enthusiasm, and these Hoyas hope to extend that passion into next week’s Big East Tournament in Tampa, Florida. They will certainly have momentum on their side, ending their home slate on a high note with a 5-2 win against Villanova behind Bruhn’s gutty three-set victory. The Hoyas also earned a key point in doubles play, sweeping the opposition and allowing just six games in the process.

The victory followed a tough conference loss for the Hoyas on Friday afternoon, as they fell to St. John’s 5-2. The loss broke a streak of five straight wins for the men’s side, a result that left a sour taste in Caris’s mouth.

“Even though we lost, it was so close,” he said. “We could have easily won that match.”

Personally, though, the Des Moines, Iowa native defeated the Red Storm’s Milo Hauk 6-2, 6-4 and paired up with sophomore Casey Distaso for a 9-8, 7-4 triumph. The biggest win, though, came from Bruhn, who defeated the No. 66 player in the nation, Vasko Mladenov, in a three-set grind, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

“Fantastic,” Caris said of Bruhn’s recent play. “Most intense guy out there, most focused guy out there. He’s got a huge serve and he’s been playing well from the back. He’s been playing with a ton of confidence.”

For Caris and the Hoyas, it’s different this time around. In the past, they had hoped to have a respectable showing in the Big East and enjoy their time in Tampa. Now, he feels the team is hungry and ready to turn heads with their play.

“We have the potential to have our best showing in program history,” he said. “I think that’s a real possibility.”

Caris’s confidence is not unfounded. As a junior, he’s been through the ropes twice, and noted that this year’s Hoyas could be seeded the highest since he’s been here. He also feels that, behind Bruhn, the Hoyas are more complete and stronger at every position than they’ve ever been.

“In the past, we’ve kind of looked at the Big East Tournament as icing on the cake,” Caris reflected. “This year, more so than in the past, we’re looking at it as an opportunity to beat some teams that we haven’t before.”

The women’s team remains just as confident, also defeating Villanova on Saturday afternoon behind sophomore Tina Tehrani’s dominant service play. The 7-0 win marks the eighth straight for the Hoyas.

Tehrani’s 6-1, 6-0 victory anchored the Hoyas, but senior Lauren Greco was just as crucial in her final home meet, winning 6-1, 6-3. The women also swept doubles play, led by a dominant 8-0 victory from Tehrani and junior Vicky Sekely.

The Villanova match followed an exhilarating upset victory over Syracuse on Friday afternoon. Greco, Tehrani, and Sekely all won their singles matches, with Greco winning in three-set fashion at the number one slot and Tehrani easily dispatching Syracuse’s Maddie Kobelt 6-1, 6-0.

“We were so excited,” Tehrani said. “After the match, we ran towards Grecs because she’s our senior and we were so happy.”

The victories over the weekend brought the women to 5-2 in Big East play and 15-5 overall. The men’s side finished with a 2-1 record in conference play with a 14-7 mark overall. Both teams admit to getting off to slow starts. As a result, though, they honed in, and are now playing their most focused, intense tennis of the season.

“I feel like we could’ve peaked earlier, but in a way, I’m glad that we are right before Big East,” Tehrani said. “It’s a perfect time for us.”

“The challenge there is going to be for us to not enjoy the Florida sunlight too much and go out there, focus on the match,” Caris added.

It is likely that the Hoyas’ familiarity with some of their Big East foes will not play into their prospects at the Big East Tournament. This notion remains especially relevant on the men’s team, as they have played just three schools in a loaded 16-team conference.

Still, the Hoyas hope their focused approach will yield a long run in the tournament—a big step for a program that has already taken significant strides this season.

“We’re really pumped because we want to show everyone how good we are as a team,” Tehrani said.

Kevin Joseph
Kevin Joseph is a Contributor Editor and former Sports Editor for the The Georgetown Voice.

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