The Villanova men’s tennis team picked up its fourth loss of the season against Lehigh, 6-1. Freshman Anthony Prokurat secured the Wildcats’ only point in the match, dominating Jordan Paul in the number six singles match in straight sets. Prokurat’s success marked his first-ever win as a Wildcat. Junior Matthew Jones and freshman Josh Robinson picked up their fourth win of the season as a doubles partnership. The duo is emerging as a reliable option for coach Brad Adams at the number three doubles spot. However, Lehigh won the other two doubles matches to clinch the doubles point.
The final score in the match sells short the Villanova performance against the Mountain Hawks. Two singles matches went to a third set tiebreak, and the slim margins of the two doubles losses tell a different story than the 6-1 score.
Freshman Ryan Nguyen faced tough competition in his career debut against senior Mountain Hawk Jacob Edelchik. Nguyen took the first set 7-5, one break the only difference in a tight opener. After losing the second set 3-6, Nguyen fell to Edelchik 10-8 in the deciding tiebreak.
Freshman Eitan Khromchenko has begun to cement his status as one of the better singles players on this young Villanova team. He leads the team with four singles wins on the season, and he was inches away from making that five against Lehigh. After losing the first set on the margins, he rallied to steal the second with ease. In the culminating tiebreak, Khromchenko could not find a way through Matt Kleiman, ultimately falling 11-9 in the third.
At the top of the lineup, sophomore Alex Kim lost his fourth consecutive singles match in straight sets. The North Carolina native has struggled to find a good run of form following his 14-11 singles record from the previous season. The exodus of graduating seniors from the previous season thrust Kim into the number one position, and growing pains are to be expected.
Freshman Josh Robinson and sophomore Daniel Cheng lost in straight sets in their respective matches. Robinson has been a revelation for the Wildcats this season. After not being included in Adams’s lineup for the first two matches, Robinson has cemented his spot as the undeniable second option for singles.
In the doubles point, sophomore Justin Suarez joined Kim while Prokurat and Khromchenko teamed up in the second spot. The sophomore pair fell by a tally of 6-2 while the freshmen edged one more game, although still losing 6-3.
The Wildcat’s three-match losing streak comes within the span of just four days, a compact schedule forcing the team to trudge from Cherry Hill, New Jersey to Bryn Mawr before embarking for Bethlehem, Pennsylvania this past Saturday. With the matches and the losses comes valuable experience for a youthful Villanova team. Against Lehigh, Adams’s entire singles lineup consisted of freshmen and sophomores. While this reliance on youth builds a strong foundation, a trial by fire can leave behind stinging losses like those of the past week.
With six matches cancelled for the Wildcats so far this season, inexperience compounded by uncertainty weighs heavily on the 3-5 record carried by the team. That record serves as a façade hiding a chaotic underbelly to this Villanova team. With eight matches played, there has yet to be a Wildcat match in which the losing team managed more than one point. In three matches, the ‘Cats dominated their opponents, and those other five served as lessons for a team burdened by youth. As the season progresses, Adams and his coaching staff will hope to achieve more consistency with his team as the players normalize to a strange gauntlet of matches.
The team next faces La Salle at home on March 28 at 3 p.m.