Close, but no cigar for men’s tennis team

Danny Spatchek, Editor-in-Chief

The Lakeland men’s tennis team fell just short of winning their first match of the year, losing 5-4 to Rockford College at the Barnes Tennis Courts in Rockford April 21.

Yu Sasaki, Andy Cheever, and Brandon Robinson picked up wins at No. 2, 4, and 5 singles, respectively, and Sasaki and Kazuya Hosokawa won at No. 2 doubles for Lakeland’s four victories.

Yu Sasaki won his first match of the season – 6-4, 6-3. He attributed the win to his ultra-conservative play.

“I didn’t want to miss any shots. I just kept hitting it in play and let him miss,” Sasaki said. “He also got an injury so he couldn’t run fast. I just kept moving him – forward, backward, and to the side – and let him miss shots.”

Andy Cheever said he employed a similar strategy in his 6-0, 6-0 drubbing of his opponent at No. 4.

“I just played smart and hit the shots that I knew I could hit,” Cheever said. “I didn’t try to go overboard, which is usually what gets me in trouble.

“It felt good to get a win like that, because I’ve only played this sport for a little over a year. That helped show me that I am getting better as I keep playing.”

Robinson lost his first set, but said he “stayed positive” and was able to rally back to win the final two sets and the match 3-6, 7-6, 7-5.

“Most people get down on themselves if they lose a first set, but as long as you keep playing, coming out with a win is still possible,” Robinson said. “I’m glad I could finally get a win in a third set as I lost back to back third set matches the previous weekend.”

Sasaki and Kazuya Hosokawa picked up Lakeland’s fourth win at No. 2 doubles, 8-5.

Sasaki said, in order to defeat their opponents, he and Hosokawa knew they needed to devise one of the most complicated strategies in the history of tennis.

“One opponent was so good. The other opponent was not so good. We just aimed to the not so good person.”

Lakeland was blanked the next day, 9-0, by McHenry College in Crystal Lake, Ill.

“This weekend was tough. I wish I could give the excuse that injuries played a huge role for us this weekend but I’m not gonna go there. Just like in any other sport, when injuries occur, it takes everybody else to step up in order to get a team victory,” tennis coach Casey Carr said.

“I will never question our loyalty to the program and the friendship that has developed in a short period of time, but for the future of this program it’s going to take a lot more than just that. I want our kids to see the top teams in our conference and have some jealousy. I know I am. The good news is that we can do something about it, and it starts with me doing my job in getting the kids here to Lakeland College that want to represent this institution and compete at a high level of Northern Athletics Conference Tennis,” Carr said.

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