The GW men’s tennis team has not won the Atlantic 10 Championship in 29 years. But following its sixth straight win last weekend – this one against Temple – the team said it believes this may be the year the dry spell ends.
“The last time we won the A-10s was in 1979, and this is the best team we’ve ever had,” senior Mustafa Gencsoy said. “It seems like we can win this year.”
The tennis team has performed well this season, leaving the Colonials ranked No. 75 in the country and with newfound expectations.
“Last year we worked hard, played well and placed third in the conference. This year I feel we have the depth and talent to go all the way,” coach Greg Munoz said. “I think there haven’t been many years since 1979 that GW men’s tennis couldn’t win it. It takes a special team, great chemistry, hard work and a bit of luck to come out on top in our conference. There are a lot of solid teams, but no dominant ones.”
Two weekends ago, the Colonials defeated UNC-Greensboro 7-0 but the win did not come as easily as the final score may indicate.
“Although we won 7-0, it was much closer than it sounds,” freshman Yan Levinski said. “I feel the team played.too casual to start with and then really tense when we saw that we underestimated (how good the Spartans were).”
This year’s team is made up of a mixture of seasoned and new players. Underclassmen comprise the majority of the 11-man team and skill trumps experience in much of the lineup. Levinski, who is undefeated this season, and classmate Erik Hannah occupy two of the top four single spots.
Gencsoy plays in the top position on the roster, as has been the case for the past four years, and said that the placement this season has been working out well.
“Basically, everyone’s good in their spots,” Gencsoy said. “It seems like I perform well enough to keep my spot, and Yan has been playing No. 2 for us and he never loses.”
This depth of players has contributed to the Colonials’ strong performances. Despite a rotator cuff injury that sidelined sophomore Ryan Hunter, and other maladies that kept sophomore Ryan Schlachter and freshman Chirs Kushma off the court until the UNC-Greensboro match, the team has a strong reserve of players that can compensate for what would have devastated the lineup in years past.
“We are deep this year so it doesn’t matter how many people are injured,” Gencsoy said. “If we have six players (healthy) it means that we can win every match.”
A more diverse team and a renewed dedication to team performance as opposed to individual showings is what may propel the Colonials to the top of the conference.
“I know for basketball it makes sense, but for us too, it’s a team sport,” Genscoy said. “It doesn’t make a difference who wins because we have to get the four points (any way we can to win the match). We can’t rely on one person to win all the matches; we have to step up as a team.”