Men’s tennis falls to Emory in second round of NCAAs after winning ODACs

Men’s tennis cruised through the ODAC tournament, but lost to Emory 5-1 on Saturday


Elly Cosgrove, Sports Writer

The Washington and Lee men’s tennis team entered the ODAC tournament as the top seed and claimed the championship title in a 5-1 victory over Hampden-Sydney on May 6.

This is the program’s ninth ODAC championship title in a row, and the team received an automatic bid to NCAAs.

Leading the Blue and White in the championship was Harry Shepherd, ‘20, at No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles with partner Charlie Kittredge, ‘20. Shepherd finished his No. 1 singles match with a 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 win.

Shepherd said the team had tough practices in preparation for the ODAC tournament and that the hard work showed in the team’s overall performance.

“During the final stretch of the season, we look to stay sharp on court and implement more match-play into practices, while not wearing ourselves out physically,” he said. “For ODAC preparations, we had some tougher practices during the beginning of the week and then had our quarterfinals match Wednesday.”

Kittredge and Mitchell Thomas, ‘20, also won their singles matches 6-2, 6-0 and 6-2, 6-3 respectively. Tye Loan, ‘21, and Noah Tapp, ‘21, also produced an 8-3 win at No. 2 doubles.

Shepherd was named the ODAC men’s tennis player of the year after posting a 13-3 overall singles record and a 6-0 record within the ODAC. The NCAA has selected Shepherd to compete in the Men’s Tennis Championship on May 22-26 in Claremont, Calif., in a field of 32 other singles players.

This is Shepherd’s first season at W&L after transferring to the program from Emory University in Atlanta. He said he has enjoyed this season and earning a spot in the lineup.

“I think the first year went well, both personally and for the team,” Shepherd said. “We certainly could have performed better against our out-of-conference opponents, but we will look forward to playing them again next year.”

The Generals entered NCAA playoffs with a 12-6 overall record with losses coming from all non-conference teams including Swarthmore, Johns Hopkins, Mary Washington, Emory, Sewanee and Christopher Newport.

Shepherd said a major theme for the team this season has been team chemistry and “pushing each other to become better athletes during the season.”

“We hope this pays dividends during the tournament, since chemistry is arguably the most important factor in the success of a team,” he said.

The Blue and White defeated Thomas More 5-0 in Atlanta on May 11 in the first-round of the NCAA tournament. W&L faced top-seeded Emory, Shepherd’s previous school, in the second round on Saturday. He said he was excited to face his old teammates, but the Generals did not come out with a win.

In order to prepare for this NCAA match, the men’s tennis team included more match-play and consistency drilling in their practice plan.

“Conditioning and tough practices have already been taken care of earlier in the season, and we need to tune up on the smaller details of our games,” Shepherd said. “More match play is expected for these coming practices so that we are ready to go come Friday.”

Shepherd and Michael Lukas, ‘18, were the No. 1 doubles team and were The Generals’ only win on Saturday.