Men’s Tennis caps off weekend in dramatic fashion


Amber Stoutenborough

Sophomore Matteo Iaquinto celebrates after defeating Army sophomore Vishnu Bodavula Friday night in two sets as he gave DePaul its first point of the match. DePaul improved to 7-9 on the season.

In anticipation, junior Shourya Verma took a breath and awaited the match point serve. As the ball made its way over the net, Verma returned it, swiping his front hand swing to win the point. 

Flailing his hand in the air, Verma dropped his racket and bowed to his teammates as they stormed the court to celebrate the win. 

“It means a lot,” Verma said. “You think about these times when you go to bed, and you don’t know what exact celebration to do. It was a good sigh of relief.

Verma’s win not only gave the Blue Demons the win over Army, but it was his first singles win in the DePaul invite, after losing against Eastern Kentucky and Cleveland State.

The Blue Demons returned home from the HEB tournament to host the DePaul Invite, Friday Feb. 17 and Saturday Feb. 18, looking to erase a six-game losing streak. With three matches in two days, the players had their work cut out for themselves.

First on the slate was Eastern Kentucky, on Thursday, Feb. 23. DePaul came out with early aggression and stuck to it throughout the match. 

Senior Leon Huck and freshman Pablo Torres Almeida, along with freshman Elias Anwar and his duo partner sophomore Jona Gitschel, got the Blue Demons its first point of the match, with both duos winning their doubles matches. 

Head coach Matt Brothers and his team continued the dominance into the singles matches. 

The Demons No. 1 and No. 3 ranked singles players, Huck and sophomore Matteo Laquinto, made quick work of their opponents, adding two more points for DePaul. 

Not going away without a fight, the Colonels picked up back-to-back singles wins, making the score 3-2 and placing pressure on DePaul. 

Anwar, from Dubai, picked up the winning points, securing the win, ending the long six game skid. 

“It’s great for their confidence,” Brothers said. “Especially for those guys that are coming in getting experience.”

The results from Thursday did not translate to Friday’s noon match against Cleveland State.

DePaul fell behind early, losing the doubles matches and had a hard time recovering from that point on. 

DePaul made up some ground in the singles matches by winning two out of the six that were in progress. 

The Cougars came away with the 4-2 win, but with no time to really reflect on the loss, DePaul was back in action three hours later against Army West Point. 

Brothers emphasized that his players stay on top of their recovering processes  throughout these long days and through the season.

“It’s been a topic of conversation the last couple weeks,” Brothers said. “It’s something, you know, I still think that we can do a better job of just hydrating and sleeping. There are so many different  factors that go into it. Nutrition, stretching.” 

The matchup with the Black Knights looked similar to the Cleveland State match in the early going. 

Army took care of the doubles matches in less than 30 minutes, setting the team up in a good position.

Early in the singles matches, it did not look like things were going to change for DePaul. Anwar, who was ranked this week as the Blue Demons’ No. 5, was the first one to drop his match, as Army picked up another point to go up 2-0. 

Gitschel proceeded to also drop his singles match in two sets, as Army West Point was just one singles match win away from sweeping the Blue Demons Friday night. 

With just three matches left, the Blue Demons had no other choice but win out in order to win the match. 

Iaquinto clinched his match in two sets and was full of emotion throughout. As he returned the serve on match point, he yelled in excitement and lifted his shirt. 

Huck battled his emotions through the ups and downs of his match. Dropping his first set 6-3, Huck came back winning two-straight sets and winning another point in dramatic fashion. 

“It was a tough challenge for us, but we managed,” Huck said. “I’ll do anything for this team, it’s just not about me, it’s about the team … In the end, it’s in my control for me to step up and be a team leader to get the win.” 

With one match left on court three, teammates and coaches gathered as everyone watched the final third set that would decide the match’s result. 

Verma, who was vocal throughout his match, played with his emotions on his sleeve. He was given a warning for words that were exchanged between him and his opponent, but he still jawed throughout the match as it continued to accelerate. 

Up 5-3, Verma was just one rally away from accomplishing the comeback and giving his teammates a confidence boost in their return home. 

“Yeah it’s definitely tough,” Verma said. “I mean two weeks ago, I was in the same situation, and I lost. I just tried to learn from it really, to handle my emotions better.” 

After Verma secured the win, DePaul came away with two out of three matches, improving the team’s record to 7-9 on the season. 

The Blue Demons will travel to Milwaukee and get to play their second Big East match of the season against Marquette, on Friday, March 3.