The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

United locker room brings men’s tennis success during difficult schedule

The W&L men’s tennis team finds themselves in good contention to go deep in NCAAs, but first looks toward conference playoffs
Rao goes to make a low hit in the back of the court. Photo courtesy of Generals Athletics

The Generals’ men’s tennis team has won 66 ODAC matches in a row, with their last conference loss occurring in 2016. Now, the No. 25 Generals are searching for success in the NCAA postseason.

Sanjheev Rao is just one of the talented freshmen on the Generals’ squad. In his first year at Washington and Lee University, he has earned a spot as both a doubles and singles player, peaking at No. 3 with a victory on April 6 at Averett. But his own accolades are not why Rao plays.

“College tennis is more about the team than the individual, and I think it’s great to experience playing for more than just yourself,” he said.

Rao credits his seamless transition to his teammates.

“We have great people on our team and they’ve set a great example to learn to manage both work and sport in college,” said Rao.

Josh Rassin, ’24, has developed into one of those leaders for the men’s tennis squad. Head Coach David Detwiler described  Rassin as the first person to step up and room with a freshman on road trips, indicative of his role as a leader.

Rassin said the team’s success can be attributed to the team’s strong sense of camaraderie.

“Our team is a family and throughout my time at W&L they’ve become some of my closest friends and greatest supporters here on campus,” he said.

Another senior leader who has set the standard on this team has been Christian Basnight. Detwiler said that Basnight has hit more balls off the machine than anyone on the team, serving as a testament to Christian’s work ethic.

After starting the season at No. 32, the team took a successful trip to California and jumped to No.19. Now, the Generals are ranked No. 25 after a loss in Pittsburgh against No. 37 Carnegie Mellon.

“The team has the talent and skill to go as high as our hard work takes us,” said Rassin.

“We have improved a lot from the start of the season and there is still a long way to go before we reach our best form,” Rao added.

With matches against eight nationally ranked teams, four of which are in the top 20, the Generals have been tested. Despite the difficulty of matches that the Generals have played, they still have a record of 11-5, with an unblemished conference record of 6-0.

Moving into April, the schedule does not get any easier for W&L. On April 21, W&L travels to Atlanta, Georgia to match up against No. 1 Emory University. Just two days after playing in Atlanta, the team will travel to Tennessee to play No. 11 Sewanee.

To Detweiler, the key to success as his team strives toward the NCAA postseason is simple: “Continue to improve, don’t get comfortable and never be satisfied.”

Looking forward, Basnight, Rassin, Rao and the rest of their teammates hope to make a run into the third round of the NCAA tournament and beyond. But, first things first.

“We cannot look too far past the ODAC, we have to win our conference first,” said Basnight.

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