e men’s tennis team still has yet to face a team able to break its three-game winning streak.
Villanova’s first home match of the season against Philadelphia rival LaSalle on Sept. 23 resulted in another 6-1 Wildcat victory, due in part to the solid play of junior Aaron Kusza and freshmen Doug Harring and Alex Villalobos.
However, despite winning eight of the nine singles and doubles matches, the team was not completely satisfied with its performance.
“We didn’t play great, but we played well enough to win,” senior John Toppel said. “We’re going to need to step it up, though.”
After winning at the No. 1 doubles position with partner Kusza (8-3), Toppel defeated his LaSalle opponent in the No. 3 singles match (6-2, 7-6 (1)).
Toppel’s teammates also commented on the lack of aggressive play.
“The intensity needs to be up,” senior co-captain Lucas Kaster said. Kaster was paired with Villalobos to win No. 2 doubles but lost a closely contested fifth singles match against Fordham’s Marco Onorato (6-4, 3-6, 6-0).
“I think they were tired and just not as sharp as I know they can be,” men’s head coach Bob Batman said.
“We’re going to need to work harder if we’re going to take care of business. We haven’t really been challenged yet. Hopefully, they’ll play stronger on Thursday against Delaware.”
In addition to fatigue and the absence of tough competition, some players attributed the sluggish play to Tuesday’s windy weather. “The conditions weren’t favorable, but that happens every now and then,” Kusza said.
After breezing through their dual matches against Millersville, Fordham and LaSalle, the Wildcats anticipated the chance to play a competitive Delaware team on Thursday. The Delaware results were not available at press time.
“As long as we can sustain our high confidence and steady play, we will be fine for the rest of the year,” Kusza said.
Last Sunday the team overpowered Fordham in a 7-0 shutout. Kusza and Toppel both battled to three-set victories at first and second singles.
Kaster, who won both in singles and doubles, improved his undefeated season singles record to 3-0, while Harring secured his first collegiate dual match win in the No. 4 singles position (6-0, 6-0). Junior Ricardo Baraldi and sophomore Carl Fenzl also each won 6-1, 6-1 against their opponents.
“There were a couple of close matches,” Batman said, “but we won the rest of them convincingly.”
The highlight of Sunday afternoon’s match came in doubles action, where the team only gave up one game in the three eight-game pro sets.
The No. 4 doubles team, junior Angel Rubio and Villalobos, posted an 8-0 win making their record a team-best 4-0.
“We definitely set a tone early on that gave us an edge for our singles matches,” Kusza said. Kusza was paired with Kaster to defeat Fordham at first doubles.
The team’s last fall season competition, the Towson Invitational, takes place Oct. 3-4 in Townson, Md.