Tennis teams struggle against MAAC foes to open season

By Chris Cole

The Rider Broncs (4-8) lost to Niagara (4-6), but fought hard resulting in one victory and three close losses Sunday afternoon.
The Rider men’s team lost 6-1, and the Broncs’ women’s team lost 7-0.

Freshman Christopher Esposito claimed Rider’s only win for the match after Niagara retired in fifth singles.

Despite losing 6-1, 6-1, Rider freshman Josh Rultenberg used his silky-smooth counterpunching to add some style to his match, which led to some entertaining points.

“He [Josh] mixed up his shots very well and made his opponent play his best to win,” said Head Coach Ed Torres. “The Niagra player was more experienced than Josh, who is a freshman. It’s matches like these that will make Josh a better player.”

Rider’s No. 1 player, junior Casey Jedlinski, used his whipping hand to put up a fight in the second set, despite losing 6-2, 7-5 to Niagara’s Alex Abji.

“The No.1 player Casey Jedlinski’s forehand was very accurate and had a lot of pace producing many winners and unforced errors against his opponent,” said Torres.

The experience of Niagra was the major factor that brought victory over Rider.

“Niagara was a more experienced team and had played several matches,” Torres said. “This was the first match of the Spring season for us. The players’ games will improve when they have a few matches under their belt.”

The Broncs’ women’s doubles team of junior Danielle Morse and sophomore Kristina Paich showed signs of their No. 1 status by losing a closely contested match 8-6. The match could have gone either way, with Niagara winning the big points when they needed them.

The women’s team fell to MAAC opponent Marist yesterday, 7-0.

The Broncs entered the match with a basic game plan.

“The tactics that I stress against my opponent is for the players to try and play a steady backcourt game,” Torres said. “Moving the ball around and keeping it deep, to attack the short ball with a sharp cross- court angle or a deep approach shot and get up to the net for the finishing volley.

“Also not to try to hit put away shots from behind the baseline because they result in many more errors than winners and to always have a positive attitude and confidence in your game.”

For Rider, senior Shannen Kahler put up a fight, winning four games at sixth singles before losing 6-3, 6-1.

“Shannen is very steady and won the most games today,” Torres said to Rider Sports Information. “It was very windy and she kept the ball in play. Shannen is just a good solid athlete.”

Junior Danielle Morse came close as well, losing 6-1, 6-1 at number one singles.

The men’s team continues its schedule on the road in a MAAC match against Marist on Friday while the women’s team hosts LaSalle on Saturday in a non-conference match.

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