By Zack Kirby, Chattanooga, Tenn.—The men’s tennis team split their matches over the weekend, with a 7-0 defeat to SoCon rival ETSU Saturday, April 11 on Senior Day, and a 7-0 shutout win over Dalton State the following day.
Against ETSU, seniors Pavels Grigorjevs, Riga, Latvia, and Gino Delavalle, Rosario, Argentina, were honored before the match.
“It was nice to see people supporting us on senior day, and even though we didn’t get the win, some people did have a good match,” Grigorjevs said. “It is a good experience playing against a top team in the SoCon, and we can see where we need to be so that we can build on it moving forward. I think the biggest thing I’ve learned as a senior has been our overall teamwork, and you won’t have that again once it’s over, so we have to make the most of our experience.”
For the doubles play, ETSU was able to sweep UTC to take a quick 1-0 lead in the match going into the singles.
After two more singles wins by ETSU, the Mocs fell in a 3-0 hole and struggled to come back.
Despite falling 6-1 in the first set against his opponent, Delavalle was able to rally back and create an intense match, but ultimately fell 7-6 (5) to his opponent.
“The main takeaway is that my guys are not going away,” head coach Carlos Garcia said. “The main thing about tennis is that it can be a very brutal sport and we’ve had some tough losses at times here and there, but at the same time the kids play with so much passion, and it can actually pay you back sometimes.”
The following day, the Mocs were able to get that payback with a shutout win over Dalton State the following day in their final home game of the season.
With the win, UTC improves to 5-14 overall, and will look to continue the fight on the road at Samford this Wednesday, April 15, before setting their sights on the Southern Conference Championships, which will take place from April 24-26 in Greeneville, N.C.
“Tennis is a very selfish sport because it can be so individual,” Devalle said. “What we can take moving forward is that we are able to grow as people, and take what we can from the people that have supported us through this. In life, if you have people that encourage you in what you’re doing, it can create better chances.”
For Garcia, he said that his team does establish their rhythm, but that if they can do it earlier in their matches, it will be key.
“Once our guys play six, seven or eight games, they begin to feel more comfortable playing their opponent,” Garcia said. “But we need to be more comfortable right off the bat, and we’re still looking to get that ever so tough doubles point. I like our doubles no matter who we play or their ranking, because it is something that we can take no matter the opponent. Tennis is going to reward us one day, and we’re able to put our stamp on this facility closing out on the last home match for our team.”