The Hillsdale College men’s tennis team dropped two nonconference matches over the weekend.
The Chargers fell to Northwood University 4 – 5 on Saturday evening, taking two doubles matches and two singles matches.
Junior Justin Hyman and sophomore Charlie Adams won No. 1 doubles, 8 – 3. Hyman won No. 3 singles 6 – 2, 6 – 3 and Adams was a No. 2 singles winner, 6 – 1, 7 – 5. Senior captain Dugan Delp and junior John Ciraci won No. 2 doubles, 6 – 2, 6 – 3.
Head coach Keith Turner said new Northwood players gave the Timberwolves more depth as a team than the Chargers.
“They added a new No. 1 guy who might be the best player in the region,” Turner said. “But we had a couple real good wins in that match. Charlie Adams beat the No. 17 guy in the Midwest. Justin and Charlie also beat the No. 4 ranked doubles team in the Midwest. So we had some good results.”
Turner said the score didn’t reflect the level of competition demonstrated.
“Northwood lost their top two guys from last year but they still had a lot of depth and some strong players that just didn’t play last year,” Turner said.
Delp said weak second sets sunk the Chargers.
“I think some of that was that because we had bad second sets: my match was 6 – 4, 6 – 0. John’s was like 6 – 3, 6 – 0 and Gabe’s was 7 – 6, 6 – 1,” Delp said.
He added that Adams helped beat the No. 1 doubles team handily.
“So we really didn’t do a good job of continuing to develop a strategy and implement that in the second set to make it more competitive….But obviously, credit to them,” Delp said. “They were really good.”
Turner said the Chargers will most likely face these teams again.
“Northwood was No. 8 in the region and they are probably a little bit stronger than that,” Turner said. “So we lost to the two teams who are going to reach the NCAA tournament. The guys will learn from it and we will be better in the long run because of it.”
The Chargers fell 9 – 0 to Ferris State, ranked 25th in the nation on Sunday morning.
The Bulldogs swept singles and doubles matches although Delp and Cirici viciously fought at No. 2 doubles, losing 9 – 8. Delp completed all three sets at No. 6 singles, losing 1 – 6, 5 – 7, 10 – 8.
“Ferris is always in the top teams in the region,” Delp said. “They won the GLIAC pretty handily last year.”
Delp said the team had improved exponentially.
“The difference between the last two years and this year and our depth and our ability to change up the lineup,” Delp said. “It’s already very evident that our level of intensity and level of play has to rise because our players further down the lineup are playing really well and pushing us to be better.”
Ciraci said he looked forward to facing them at the end of the season with more matches under the team’s belt.
“We played well against Ferris even though we didn’t win any matches. As we go along I think we’re going to keep playing better,” Ciraci said. “They lost awesome kids from last year but replaced them right away…. We gave him some good runs and some of the matches but they were just a little bit too strong.”
Turner said his No. 2 doubles team stood out from the rest this weekend.
“If they can play like that the rest of the year, that’s huge for us,” Turner said. “They beat a really good Northwood team and we had some very competitive matches with Ferris State. They played a great tiebreaker in that match and they didn’t give us anything.”
Ciraci said that their No. 2 doubles loss was played incredibly well.
“Ferris is good at every single spot but we never felt outmatched at any point. It was close the whole time,” Ciraci said. “We both played very well and very few mistakes were made.”
Delp said that almost every player came back in their second set against Ferris.
“This weekend was disappointing, especially Saturday, but those are the two of the top teams in the region and maybe the two toughest teams we’ll play all season,” Delp said.
The Bulldogs improved to 3 – 1 on the season.
“Both teams will be very competitive…We split with Wayne State last year. We lost to them 5 – 4 and we beat them 5 – 4,” Delp said. “So we’re going to have to adjust quickly and, like we did against Ferris and figure out our opponents and make it competitive throughout the whole match.”
The nonconference losses left the Chargers record at 2 – 2.
The Chargers will face off on the road against the Edinboro Fighting Scots, ranked No. 3 in the Atlantic region on Feb. 24 at 4 and against unranked Wayne State on Sun. Feb. 25 at 1.
“I think Ferris is stronger than both of the two teams we are playing this weekend,” Turner said. “I think Edinboro and Wayne State will be close matches but there’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to beat them.”
Delp said that Edinboro beat Walsh 6 – 3 on Feb. 3.
“Walsh is ranked second in our conference,” Delp said. “It would be a really good win against them for our own sake and also to show everyone what we’re made of.”