The #3 ranked Stags of Claremont-Mudd-Scrips defeated the #9 ranked Eagles of Mary Washington 7-2 in a highly anticipated matchup yesterday in Claremont, California. The Stags started strong with 8-3 and 8-4 wins at 1st and 2nd doubles, respectively. These positions, particularly 2 doubles, were expected to be highly contested. Despite being down and early 2-0, the Eagles kept themselves in the match by taking the 3 doubles spot with John James/Zach Detweiler winning 8-5 over the team of Mikey Lim and Michael Starr.
The singles matches all had highly contested first sets, first 4 of 6 first sets going to tiebreakers. The problem for the Eagles was that the Stags won all 4 of those breakers. After winning 5 of 6 first sets, CMS looked well on its way to victory. Michael Starr made the score 3-1 with a win at #3 singles and Eric MacColl pushed the score to 4-1 with a 6-4, 6-0 win against Eddie Carver at #4 singles. However, both of these matches were expected CMS wins so there was still a lot of tennis to be played. In a battle of top 15 players, Lawrence Wang defeated Fall Regional ITA Champion Randy Loden 7-6, 6-1 in a match that was expected to be highly contested. This gave CMS the 5-1 victory and they clinched the match. Of the remaining points, CMS took #1 and #6 singles and Mary Washington was able to squeeze out another win at #5. I asked Coach Settles a few questions after the match and he was kind enough to share his answers with me.
Q&A with Coach Paul Settles of CMS
How did you feel about the team performance overall in doubles? And in singles?
-We played very well at #1 and #2. The key to our success at those positions has been getting out to good starts - early breaks and easy holds. We were victimized by our own strategy at #3 doubles and lost an early break and then never really recovered from it. Doubles will really be a focus of ours going into the Stag-Hen, as we'll try to continue to get better at #1 and #2 and shore up the #3 position. In singles I was so proud of our guys winning four tie-breaks in four of six first sets. Wang and Sabater both fought back to tough out their first sets and were rewarded with more convincing second set efforts. Overall a good singles effort against a tough UMW team.
Individually, who really stepped up for you today against a very tough opponent?
-I'm probably most proud of Mikey Lim, who is learning how to beat good players at the #1 position even when he isn't at his best. James made him work very hard but Mikey showed good patience and toughness when he needed it most.
Mary Washington is typically a very gritty and confident team. Do you think the homecourt advantage helped you at all with breaking their spirits?
-I think getting the doubles advantage and going up 2-0 was important. I think the home court advantage was most critical in the four first set breakers we played. Had we lost two of those, the dual match result could have been much different.
How is the health of Michael Starr? When will you expect him to be back at full strength?
-Mike is improving every day - he gets a little stronger and a little more confident with each match he plays. His attitude has been great and he is excited to be back with his team and contributing.
Any comments on the upcoming StagHen invitational?
-It should be another terrific tournament. I am excited to see how well Kenyon, Trinity (TX), and Bowdoin are playing, as all of these teams are loaded with talent. I hope you will be covering the event!