Men’s tennis moves to 9-9 after victories over Mount St. Mary’s, Villanova, loss to JMU

Charlotte O’Donnell, Staff Writer

Ben Gerber ’18 and Dan Wright ’18 were a formidable pairing for the Bison on March 23. Gerber nailed the final match against Mount St. Mary’s for a team victory, and Wright won every match he played.

The Bison swept the singles board, winning every match in the 4-3 nail-biter. Nick Bybel ’16 and Wright both won their matches in just two sets, 6-4, 6-4 and 6-3, 6-4, respectively. Andrei Vitiuc ’19 was also a victor, winning at No. 4 singles 4-6, 7-5, 6-2. Despite these victories, the score was tied at the start of the final singles match. Gerber, in the No. 5 spot, had the weight of the team on his shoulders, but his confidence never wavered as he trounced his opponent 6-3, 6-3.

Gerber credits his ability to perform in such high-pressure situations to his teammates and their never-ending support.

“To see them right next to the court cheering me on for every point takes the pressure off and allows me to play my best tennis,” Gerber said.

The Bison’s match against James Madison on March 26 was a hard-fought 4-3 loss despite stellar performances by the team. Bybel won his match 7-5, 7-5, and Wright fought a tied last match to win 7-5, 7-6 (7-5). The Bison also won two of their three doubles matches, with Bybel/Vitiuc earning a 6-3 win and Wright/Gerber ending their match 7-5. Despite the loss, head coach Craig Schwartz was not disappointed.

“I am very proud about how the guys never give up even when their backs are against the wall. They continue to always push forward and compete, which is lots of fun to be a part of,” Schwartz said.

Bouncing back from their James Madison loss, the Orange and Blue swept Villanova 5-2 on March 30, improving their overall record to 9-9. The Bison crushed the singles portion of the competition, winning five of the six matches. Bybel recorded his seventh straight win with his victory at the No. 1 singles spot, where he dominated 6-7 (5-7), 6-1, 6-2. Bybel, with his winning record of 11-3, was named Corvias Patriot League Male Player of the Week, even before he improved his personal record with this win. Wright won his No. 2 singles spot 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, bringing his own record to 10-5. Max Kane ’18 tied his first set 6-7, winning the tie-breaker 6-8, and then proceeded to crush his opponent the rest of the match 6-1, 6-3. Vitiuc and Gerber did their part for the Bison, winning 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 and 6-0, 7-6, respectively. Gerber/Wright once again proved themselves a dynamic duo as they won at No. 3 doubles 7-6.

Schwartz wholly believes that what makes his team different from many others is the unwavering support each player has for each other. Crediting the family atmosphere as a key to the Bison’s success, Schwartz shared Gerber’s belief that the players will always get each other through a tough spot.

“Tennis is labeled as an individual sport, but when you get to college it definitely is a team sport. The guys are great at playing for each other rather than just for themselves,” Schwartz said.

The Bison will compete April 2 when they host Loyola for their Senior Day, and again on April 3 when they host Colgate.

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