Women’s and men’s tennis finish third and sixth at Big East Tournaments

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Both DePaul tennis teams wrapped up their seasons April 21, with the women’s team taking third place at the Big East Championship in Tampa and the men finishing sixth in the conference tourney in South Bend, Ind. 

The women’s squad avenged a season defeat to Louisville (4-1) to clinch its third place finish. To reach that point, the team had beaten Providence 4-0, Syracuse 4-1 and narrowly lost to tournament champion Notre Dame 4-3.

For the men, a sixth place finish was less than the team was hoping for, according to head coach Matt Brothers. They lost in their first match to Louisville 4-3, beat Villanova 4-1 and then lost to St. John’s 4-1. The team finished 6-18 on the year, while the women finished on a more positive 15-10.

Women’s head coach Mark Ardizzone said that he was pleased with his team’s performance.

“I couldn’t be more happy with their effort,” said Ardizzone. “We try to talk about ‘Are we getting better?’ And obviously, we got better at the end of the year. We beat two teams that beat us (earlier in the season).”

The tournament featured strong performances from freshmen Jarrett Fisher and junior Kelsey Lawson. Both went undefeated in their matches and Ardizzone claimed their play was a result of all of their hard work throughout the year.

However, when asked about their play, both Fisher and Lawson focused on the strengths of the team rather than their individual performances. Both players pointed to the team’s resolve of wanting to avenge earlier season defeats to Syracuse and Louisville as reasons why they were successful.

“I’m so proud of the whole team,” said Fisher. “We knew when the draw came out, our big goal was to get Syracuse. And we did that. We had such a great, close match against Notre Dame, and I’m so proud of everyone for coming back the next day and taking out Louisville.”

Lawson shares the same spirit. 

“We don’t take no for an answer,” said Lawson.

The weekend was encouraging for both of the teams’ younger players, both coaches said. Each squad had five players that were freshmen. Perhaps even more impressive, each team had a freshman that won all of their matches in the tournament.

Sten Leusink defeated Chris Simich (6-3, 6-4), Ryan Peyton (6-2, 6-4) and Hugh Morth (6-7, 6-1, 6-3) throughout the tournament.  Leusnik, who was nominated for Big East Freshman of the Year, said that his first Big East Tournament was a good experience.

“I had a really good match against (Simich) and that helped with the other guys,” said Leusnik. “If you’re in your rhythm from the start, it makes it a lot easier. I was just in a good rhythm from the start.”

Despite Leusnik’s performance, Brothers took the loss of his team hard. Brothers said that he didn’t agree with the tournament’s seeding and that the team should have earned a seed higher than seven.

“It was a confusing lower half of the draw,” said Brothers. “I was probably the most pleased with our first match (against Louisville). I thought we kind of finally played to our potential. We really had Louisville on the ropes and showed what they were capable of doing.”

Now with their seasons over, each coach will give their players a week off and then it is back to work to prepare hard for next season.

“At the end of the tournament, we all went over and looked at the (Big East) trophy,” said Ardizzone. “I made them all look at it and that’s what we’re working for. Starting next week, I want them to start working for that.”