The Hillsdale College Chargers narrowly won their third match of the season with strong individual play from the bottom of the lineup in key moments
The win over the Ashland University Eagles Saturday in the Hillsdale College Biermann Center puts the Chargers at 3 – 0 in the season.
In doubles, the Chargers dropped two of three sets. Junior Ivanhoe Lissanevitch and senior Charlie Adams fell into a quick hole on the no. 1 court, down 0 – 5 before mounting a comeback that Ashland put to an end after giving up three games.
Sophomore Bryan Hackman and senior Michael Szabo were able to get through their set with little trouble, beating their opponents 6 – 3 on the no. 2 court. The lone doubles point came down to the no. 3 court, but senior Julien Clouette and freshman Tyler Conrad were unable to build momentum and lost 3 – 6.
“We just came out very flat,” head coach Keith Turner said. “We didn’t really do anything to make them earn the point.”
Starting out singles play one point behind, the Chargers were forced to win four of the six matches to win the match. Hackman and Szabo got the Chargers off to a good start with wins on the no. 3 and no. 4 courts in straight sets.
“I was making a lot of my first serves and was getting a lot of free points. My service games were just like, ‘boom, boom, over,’ and I just put a lot of pressure on his serve,” Hackman said. “No matter if he was serving or returning, he felt like his back was against the wall.”
Szabo battled hard with his opponent. He won two breaks to take the first set and got out to an early cushion in the second set. After some pressure from his opponent, Szabo took the second set and the match 6 – 4, 6 – 4.
“The guy had kind of a weird game,” Turner said. “A game where you had to win some ugly points and be okay with it.”
After dropping the first set, Adams kept the second set competitive. But once he tied the second set at 4 – 4, Adams lost the next two games to lose his match 6 – 4, 6 – 4.
Despite many powerful serves and well-placed groundstrokes, Lissanevitch was unable to get ahead on the no. 1 court, either. He kept rallies long and tense, but his opponent was able to get back nearly every shot. He forced the first set to tiebreak, eventually losing it, and couldn’t sustain the momentum in the second set.
When the no. 5 and no. 6 singles started playing, the Chargers trailed 2 – 3 and faced an uphill battle to come out on top of the Eagles.
“I felt a little bit of pressure,” Conrad said. “It was pressure that I knew I had to win but I knew if I kept my head down I could win relatively easily.”
At no. 5, Conrad battled his opponent in moments and came out decisively ahead in his straight set win.
“I felt pretty comfortable,” Conrad said. “But there were a few points in the match where it got pretty tight and that was a little nerve wracking.”
On the no. 6 court, Clouette was dominant in his match, sealing the point with two 6 – 1 sets and clinched the match win for the Chargers.
“That was the good thing about the match,” Turner said of the four wins that came out of the third through sixth courts. “It shows that we have a very deep team.”
The Chargers will be on the road this weekend at Purdue Northwest University on Saturday, and then the 5‑Star Tennis Club on Sunday to take on Lewis University. The weekend is shaping up to be crucial for the Chargers’ high expectations for the season.
“We have another huge weekend coming up,” Turner said. “Lewis is always one of the best teams in the region, one of the best teams in the nation every year.”