The student newspaper of Clark University

The Scarlet

The student newspaper of Clark University

The Scarlet

The student newspaper of Clark University

The Scarlet

Clark Men’s Tennis Slices into the Playoffs

Cougars beat Springfield College 5-1 in quarterfinal matchup, advancing to conference semifinals
Clark’s tennis team. Photo courtesy of Ryan Hovey.

The Clark University men’s tennis team secured the fourth seed in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) playoffs after finishing with a 4-3 record in conference play. Alongside Clark’s positive standing within NEWMAC play, the men’s tennis squad also posted a convincing 11-5 overall record on the year. Let’s break down the Cougars’ journey to the postseason. 

Season Recap

Men’s tennis began their season last fall on Sept. 17 with a smash hit – beating Roger Williams University by a final score 5-4. Clark captured two out of three doubles matches and three out of six singles matches en route to their road opening victory.

Following a loss at Assumption University on Sept. 22, the Cougars stormed back with three wins in a row against Colby-Sawyer College (6-3), Gordon College (7-2) and Wentworth Institute of Technology (9-0). Clark’s win over Wentworth was especially convincing as the team finished with a monstrous combined score of 106 games won to just 26 lost. 

Men’s tennis continued their dominant play during a spring break trip to Hilton Head, S.C. – winning all three contests played in the Palmetto State. The Cougz started off their successful road trip with a shutout 9-0 victory over Lebanon Valley College on March 5. Two days later on March 7, Clark took down Randolph College by a final score of seven matches to two. Finally, men’s tennis capped off their win streak down south with a 6-3 victory over Buena Vista University on March 8. 

Men’s tennis returned from Hilton Head on a three-game winning streak heading into the most consequential series of contests for determining playoff seeding – NEWMAC play. Clark’s first NEWMAC contests were against two conference powerhouses in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on March 16 and Babson College on March 23. MIT in particular is the goliath of NEWMAC men’s tennis – having won 22 out of 24 conference tournaments since 1999 (2020 was canceled due to Covid-19 and Babson College won in 2021). 

Men’s tennis fell in both contests against MIT and Babson 0-9, however, the team remained determined to bounce back into playoff form as they beat Wheaton College 6-3 on March 30. First-year Aris Kirkorian performed well in Clark’s victory over the Lyons, winning in number two singles 6-2, 6-2 and triumphing in one doubles 8-0 alongside Edward Shepherd-Johnson. 

Clark men’s tennis finished off their season with yet another three contest win streak following a loss – highlighting this team’s resiliency. The Cougars fell to Coast Guard 2-7 on April 6, however then went on to beat Springfield College (6-3), Salve Regina (9-0) and Emerson College (8-1). Clark’s 9-0 thrashing of Salve Regina was particularly special – representing both a playoff clinching victory and a proper senior day sendoff for Tanner Honnef. 

Team Insights

The Scarlet spoke with Ryan Hovey, a junior on the men’s tennis team, about team culture and play this season. Hovey, a geography major from Newburgh, N.Y., said that the team’s improvement can partially be chalked up to “a few strong recruits this year.” 

Alongside a solid cast of incoming players, Hovey also cited strong doubles play as critical to the team’s success this year. “In our two most important matches this year, Springfield and Wheaton, we went up 2-1 in doubles,” said Hovey, “Getting the lead in doubles plays a big part in the momentum of the match.” 

Speaking of Springfield, Hovey told The Scarlet that his favorite match of the year was the team’s 6-3 victory over the Spirit on April 14. Hovey went on to say that Springfield beat Clark to take the fourth seed last season so the team was looking for revenge this season; Hovey stated, “we came to the match [against Springfield] this year with a ton of energy, and we ended up winning the match 6-3, securing the 4th place spot this year.” The men’s tennis team eyed the fourth seed as a goal for this season, and their victory over Springfield helped fulfill that goal. 

Finally, Hovey mentioned that the team is much closer as a unit this season. The team’s Hilton Head Island trip “definitely helped us all get closer,” which according to Hovey “has contributed to our  performance on the court.” According to Hovey, having a whole community with a shared goal aids in the team’s play on the court and creates a supportive environment off the court as well. 

Playoff Outlook

Clark finished the season with an impervious record in home games after winning all five contests at the Corash Tennis Courts; Clark’s winning ways at home continued into the playoffs as the fourth seeded Cougars beat the fifth seed Springfield College on Wednesday, April 24 in the opening round of NEWMAC action. Clark took down Springfield for a second time this season, this time winning by a final score of 5-1. The men’s tennis contest against Springfield was the team’s first home playoff competition since 2015, and their victory moves them forward to the NEWMAC semifinals. Clark is set to travel to MIT on Saturday, April 27 for the conference semis, roll Cougz!

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