By Justin Bonhard
The tennis teams struggled against Villanova, as the men lost and the women handed the Wildcats their first win of the season.
Rider hosted the Big East opponent on March 24 for the men and March 25 for the women. The women’s side were unable to win a set, ultimately losing, 7-0. The women dropped to 5-6 on the year and Villanova picked up its first win of the season, improving to 1-13.
The Bronc women lost the doubles matchups early and couldn’t seem to find a rhythm against a winless Villanova team.
Head Coach Doug Potkay commented on the play of his team, saying, “[Villanova] just put us on the defensive right away, and it was tough to adjust to that,” he said. “We just have to regroup for our big matches coming up.”
Juniors Danielle Scrudato and Kelli Swanson had the closest matchup in doubles, losing 7-5 against Villanova’s Zoe Speaker and Ellie Zimmerman. The singles matchups also didn’t go well. The Broncs were swept 6-0, with all six losing in straight sets.
After losing both of her singles and doubles match-ups, Scrudato still has confidence in her team and is optimistic for the outcome of the season.
“I’m hoping we have a winning record so we can make it to the MAAC tournament and then at least get through a couple rounds of the tournament,” she said. “We definitely have improved so much with our two new freshmen this season.”
The two freshmen Scrudato was talking about were Cyd Melendez and Amanda Binder, both having stellar seasons. Melendez has notched seven singles wins this season and Binder has won five. Both Broncs lost their singles matches against Villanova, Melendez losing to Kaylan Rotman 6-2 and 6-2, and Binder losing to Linley Busby 6-0 and 6-1.
Sophomore Vanessa Canda had the best chance of stealing a point away from Villanova but came up short, losing both sets to Lindsey Evans 6-3 and 6-4. Canda had a chance to extend the game to a third set but lost her serve and the point to the Wildcats.
The men hosted the Wildcats and were swept in all singles and doubles matches, losing 7-0. Rider’s men fell to 1-9 on the season and Villanova went over .500 to 6-5.
The Broncs got off to a bad start, losing their doubles matches, and couldn’t find their swing, but Coach Potkay focused on some positives, saying, “I was pleased to see some of the doubles team being aggressive and attacking the net,” he said. “Communication and controlling net play is key to being a successful doubles team.”
Some notable Broncs’ performances were sophomore Brandon Gildea and junior Jeremy Van Herwarde. Although both lost in straight sets, they kept their matches interesting. Gildea lost to Tommy Mulfur 6-4 and 6-1, and Van Herwarde had the closest match losing 6-3 and 6-4 to Jimmy Purdy.
The men’s team had another match on the road in Bronx, New York, on March 26, but it was canceled and will be rescheduled for next season.
A look ahead, Rider men’s and women’s teams have four matches next week, first to Salem International, and then the next two against MAAC opponents, Marist and St. Peter’s. Salem International and St. Peter’s will both be home matches at the Campus Courts on March 29 and April 1, respectively. Both teams finish the week on the road versus Coppin State on April 2.