Kings of the court: men’s tennis continues win streak

Tiger’s continue win streak at home games against Sewanee

Winning streaks are becoming a trend in the Tiger athletic department, and the Trinity men’s tennis team took to the courts on Saturday, Feb. 19, looking to extend one of their own.

Coming off a couple of 9-0 victories against East Texas Baptist University and the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor on Saturday, Feb. 12, the men’s tennis team had extended their home winning streak to 23 consecutive matches.

In an attempt to pad that number, Trinity welcomed in the Tigers of The University of the South, Sewanee. Their Tiger counterparts from Tennessee finished the 2020-21 season ranked as the number 22 men’s team in the nation, according to a coaches poll from the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA).

Saturday’s action commenced with doubles, including the top three lines from Trinity that included the duos of Christian Settles and Hao Nguyen, Cameron Krimbill and Cal Hunter and Alessio Azzalini and Wilson Hamilton.

The first line team of Settles and Nguyen took on the pairing of Ryan Olps and Noah Holsclaw of Sewanee. The visitors were able to take a couple of sets from the home Tigers after the duo failed to surrender even one the previous weekend. Nonetheless, the number 2 combination in the nation prevailed, giving up just those two sets and ultimately securing the first victory on the day, 8-2.

Next to them on court four were Krimbill and Hunter, who both consistently sent encouragement to their teammates playing on the courts surrounding them. The duo took on the pairing of Mark Motlow and Quinn Wicklund, and, despite a somewhat slow start, the energy for the Trinity athletes picked up as the match continued and they finished strong, picking up the second victory on the day with a final mark of 8-4.

The last pair to finish and contribute to the overall effort on the day was Azzalini and Hamilton. The two took on Sewanee’s Liam Baer and Hugh Graham, visiting Tigers who offered the most opposition during doubles play. Trinity ultimately prevailed, but by the narrowest margin of the three doubles teams, 8-5.

Singles play followed shortly after and Krimbill took to court three to battle on the number 1 singles line. After being named the Southern Collegiate Athletic Association (SCAC) Men’s Tennis Player of the Week Krimbill played Olps and won both of his matchups 6-1, 6-0 and 6-0, 6-2. He cruised again on Saturday, winning in two sets, 6-1, 6-3.

On the court next to him, however, Nguyen was the most dominant Trinity Tiger in singles play. With Sewanee’s Jackson Davis across from him, he breezed to a straight-sets 6-0, 6-0 victory in which he could seemingly do no wrong.

In regards to his performance in his singles match, Nguyen said, “I think it went really well. For me personally, it hasn’t been the best of weeks as far as my tennis performance, but I thought it was a really clean match today against a really good, neutral, ranked opponent, so I couldn’t be happier.”

Azzalini battled to a 7-5, 6-4 victory in the third line, but perhaps the most entertaining match of the singles slate came between Settles and Sewanee’s Wicklund. Settles went down 2-1 in the first set before turning things around to claim it, 6-2. He would fall behind in the second set as well, 3-0. Despite battling back to make it competitive, he would drop the set 6-7 (5-7). In the deciding tiebreak, he would ultimately prevail (12-10).

Although Settles struggled in the match, he was proud of his performance at the conclusion of the day.

“My match was a little interesting. I certainly wouldn’t classify this as one of my best performances but again, trying to focus on some of the positive attributes. I came through in a high-pressure situation and although it might not have been my cleanest tennis, I still was willing to dig and fight really hard and still came out the other side, so [I’m] proud of myself in that respect,” Settles said.

Hamilton and Connor Whittington rounded out the Trinity singles play, each earning wins that contributed to the 9-0 sweep against Sewanee and extended the men’s home win streak to 24.

The head coach of the men’s team, Russell McMindes, was satisfied with the team’s performance on the day.

“Today was kind of our first real balanced test in the Division III world, a ranked opponent, neutral conditions and I came away from it very, very pleased with all of it. I think our guys played really well. I think they showed up right from the first ball and set the tone in doubles, established these are our courts […] I think they did a phenomenal job with that,” McMindes said.

Trinity followed their play with a match against Hardin-Simmons on Sunday, Feb. 20. They head to Cleveland, Ohio to compete in the ITA Indoor Nationals from Feb. 25 through 27. They return home the weekend of March 12 and will look to extend their winning streak even further.