Tennis tops Tornados in season-opening wins

WISE—For the first time in two years, the University of Virginia’s College at Wise tennis teams completed a sweep at home as the men’s team defeated Brevard College 7-0 on Saturday afternoon while the women’s team came away with a 5-2 victory.

The win for the men’s team snapped a 20-match losing streak for the Cavaliers as they also earned their first shutout victory since a 9-0 road win at Emory & Henry College on March 3, 2018

“Feels great to end the 20 match losing streak with a shutout win,” junior Coleton Burke said. “We worked very hard in the preseason and we deserved to get this win.”

Coleton Burke - Photo Credit Michael Grennell
Coleton Burke – Photo Credit Michael Grennell

In their first career match, freshmen Cleve Packer and Connor Giza combined for a 6-2 victory at the No. 1 position. Returning Cavaliers Burke and sophomore Luke Jarnagin teamed up for a 6-1 victory at the No. 2 position, while freshmen John Robert Kilgore and James Srsich also recorded a 6-1 victory at the No. 3 position to give the team the doubles point.

Packer and Jarnagin earned 6-2, 6-2 victories at the No. 1 and No. 4 positions respectively, while Burke took the No. 2 position 7-6, 7-6 and GIza won the No. 3 position 6-1, 6-4. After dropping the first set 7-6, Kilgore rallied back with 6-4 and 10-7 wins in the second and third set to take the No. 5 position. Senior John Hamilton rounded out the Cavaliers’ win with an 8-0 victory at the No. 6 position.

In the women’s match, the Cavaliers began the afternoon with a sweep of the doubles point. After a 6-0 win at the No. 1 position by sophomore Liza Akimenko and Katya Akimenko and a 6-1 victory at the No. 2 position by senior Aya Melhem and sophomore Grace Hall, freshman Megan Harwood and sophomore Lillian Morris battled their way to a 7-6, 7-5 victory at the No. 3 position.

“The team did a great job,” Melhem said. “We had very high spirits going into this match, and I think that reflected in the way we played.”

Melhem and Katya Akimenko earned 6-0, 6-0 wins in singles play at the No. 3 and No. 2 positions respectively, while Harwood fell 3-6, 1-6 at the No. 5 position and Hall won the No. 4 position 6-2, 6-1. Sophomore Olivia Dishner battled for three sets but fell at the No. 6 position 6-2, 6-7, 5-7, but Liza Akimenko earned a 6-1, 6-2 victory at the No. 1 position to secure the win for the Cavaliers.

Aya Melhem - Photo Credit Michael Grennell
Aya Melhem – Photo Credit Michael Grennell

Both teams will return to action on Saturday afternoon when they host Johnson University-Tennessee at 1 p.m. Burke said that for the men’s team, the win against Brevard will provide momentum going forward but they need to continue to work hard at practice.

“We will need to improve as much as we can for our upcoming matches,” Burke said. “We have a lot of tough competition, but we are going to put up a fight and get some more wins.”

After starting the year with strong performances against Brevard College and at the King Hidden Dual Invitational, Melhem said she is looking forward to seeing how the women’s team will do this season.

“The King Invitational was very beneficial to us as we competed with different levels of teams that pushed us to play our best,” Melhem said. “I am very excited to see what this year has in store for us. We have had a successful start so far.”

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