During the 2017 campaign, the University of Redlands men's tennis team fired off another outstanding season that complements the program's impressive foundation for the future of the Bulldogs. Equipped with a solid national ranking throughout the year, the Maroon and Gray orchestrated a 16-7 overall record to go along with an 8-2 mark in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) for second place among the top-heavy standings. Furthermore, Redlands registered Head Coach Geoff Roche's 300th men's tennis win in March and later sent three Bulldogs to the NCAA Division III Individual Championships.
After a quality outing at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Fall Regional Championships, the Bulldogs opened the spring season with a challenging loss to the NCAA Division II's 14th-ranked Azusa Pacific University Cougars. Seniors Parker Wilson (Carlsbad, CA) and Jake Ly (Torrance, CA) each prevailed in their respective singles matches at Nos. 3 and 6 for Redlands' only points in the team score.
However, this bump in the road was short-lived, as Redlands rallied for seven-consecutive wins, including five over nationally-ranked squads and two against conference opponents. After downing No. 32 Brandeis University (MA) in fine fashion, the Bulldogs opened SCIAC competition with a sweeping triumph against Occidental College that included the strong play by a pair of rookies. With a 3-0 lead after the doubles, the Maroon and Gray looked to freshman Avery Davis (Jensen Davis, FL) to keep things rolling with his 6-2, 6-1 win at the No. 2 slot before freshman Brad Cummins (Rancho Mirage, CA) sealed the deal when he took down his No. 4 opponent by scores of 6-0, 6-0.
The winning streak continued when then-No. 18 Redlands upended ninth-ranked Pomona-Pitzer Colleges in early March. Redlands gained only one point in the doubles action, as Wilson and senior Tom Suchodolski (Amherst, MA) prevailed at No. 3 with an 8-6 win. However, Pomona-Pitzer picked up two more points with early singles victories to put the Bulldogs in a 1-4 hole. Nonetheless, Redlands refused to go away and showed great grit and determination with gutsy performances at all four, remaining matches. After Suchodolski, Ly, and Wilson each came off the court victorious, Redlands needed to close it out at No. 3. Junior Joey Dulle (St. Louis, MO) stepped up to the challenge by prevailing in an incredibly hard-fought, 7-6(6), 7-5 victory for the Bulldogs' unforgettable 5-4 comeback.
For his undefeated efforts during this memorable win, Wilson was tabbed the SCIAC Athlete of the Week for men's tennis.
Redlands continued to roll with excellent showings against No. 29 Swarthmore College (PA), No. 27 Christopher Newport University (VA), and No. 21 University of Mary Washington (VA). Against Swarthmore, the Bulldogs used a 2-1 doubles lead to capture a 6-3 win, with sophomore Chase Lipscomb (Irvine, CA) clinching the match with his 6-0, 6-3 decision at the top slot of singles. After relying on a singles-heavy effort to defeat CNU, the squad came up big time in a memorable match against Mary Washington. With an impressive, total-team effort, the Bulldogs registered an 8-1 win over the Eagles to notch Head Coach Geoff Roche's 300th victory in men's tennis during his 17-year career at Redlands. The Maroon and Gray battled through high-quality competition in doubles and ultimately eked out two wins with positive results at Nos. 1 and 2. Dulle and Ly teamed up for a solid late push to secure the 9-8(1) win at the top position, while Lipscomb and Cummins prevailed in a 9-8(5) showing at No. 2. In singles, Redlands immediately set the tone by winning the first set of all six matches. Davis came off the court first by defeating his No. 5 opponent in a 7-5, 6-1 decision, as sophomore Bryant Johnson (Fair Oaks, CA) quickly followed with a 6-3, 6-4 showing at No. 6. Leading 4-1, the Bulldogs earned the deciding point at No. 2, where Wilson pushed past his opponent for a straight-set win by scores of 6-3, 7-5. With the milestone victory already secured, the Bulldogs continued to roll with positive results by Lipscomb, Dulle, and Suchodolski, making it a total-team effort.
After a difficult 3-6 loss to No. 10 Wesleyan University (CT), the Bulldogs jumped right back in the win column with a pair of positive outcomes on March 18. Now ranked a season-high No. 8 in the country, Redlands defeated No. 23 Sewanee (TN) by a score of 7-2 off the heels of a doubles sweep. This allowed the Maroon and Gray to seal the deal in an efficient manner, as the squad prevailed in the first two singles matches off the court. Wilson and Dulle each knocked out straight-set wins, which included 6-0 results in their respective second sets.
Later that afternoon, the Bulldogs were reunited with one of their own as Zack Hasenyager '08, '14 and his College of Wooster men's tennis team came to Verdieck Courts for a non-conference match. Despite the familiarity, Redlands held nothing back in a dominating 9-0 showing. The Maroon and Gray completed another doubles sweep in the process, with an 8-0 effort by Wilson and Suchodolski highlighting the home team's success. Furthermore, Cummins and sophomore Thomas Hanley (Winnetka, IL) added firepower to the depth of the singles lineup with straight-set wins that included three sets by a score of 6-0.
For the second time this season, Wilson reeled in the SCIAC Athlete of the Week nod, with this accolade coming after a 5-1 combined effort in doubles and singles against Wesleyan, Sewanee, and Wooster.
The Maroon and Gray ended the busy month of March with a 2-2 showing that included 8-1 wins over Whittier College and UC Santa Cruz. Against the Poets, junior Cooper Lacetera (Westhampton Beach, NY) dismissed his No. 6 opponent by scores of 6-0, 6-2, while Ly officially put this one in the books with his 6-2, 6-4, performance at the No. 3 slot. The Santa Cruz match saw Lipscomb and Wilson each go undefeated with quality performances in doubles and singles.
Following a 9-0 sweep of the Kingsmen from Cal Lutheran University, the Bulldogs suffered a tough loss to No. 2 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges to open the month of April. The No. 3 doubles duo of Wilson and Suchodolski earned a solid 8-4 victory to put Redlands on the board. Lipscomb's 6-4, 6-2 victory at the top spot in singles evened the count in the overall score but it was not enough to inspire the upset of the Stags.
The team finished off its dual-match competition with a pair of blanking wins over Chapman University and Caltech, which bookended a loss to NCAA Division I UC Riverside. Redlands celebrated Senior Day on Verdieck Courts with an impressive outing against the Panthers. The Bulldogs dominated at every position, with Ly and Dulle setting the tone with their 8-2 triumph at No. 1 doubles. Lipscomb and Cummins, and Wilson and Suchodolski followed suit before joining Johnson for positive results in singles. Against Caltech, sophomore Adrian Nilsson-Redman (Irvine, CA) teamed up with Lipscomb in doubles at No. 2 and completed the Bulldogs' doubles sweep with a 9-7 result.
Redlands orchestrated an outstanding effort at the 117th Annual Ojai Valley Tournament, with Dulle and Ly's appearance in the final of the main draw highlighting the quality weekend. Wilson also shined by advancing to the semifinal of the singles competition.
With only one SCIAC loss on the season, the Bulldogs entered the SCIAC Championship Tournament as the No. 2 seed with high hopes of competing for the championship. After a solid 5-0 outing against Caltech that included Nilsson-Redman's clincher at No. 6, Redlands squared off against 12th-ranked Pomona-Pitzer. Due to rainy conditions at the Sagehens' courts, the match was relocated to Indian Wells Tennis Garden but the Bulldogs refused to let the unfamiliar setting faze them. Redlands knocked off Pomona-Pitzer for the second time this season, with this result coming by a score of 5-3. After the Maroon and Gray swept the doubles, the Sagehens came roaring back to even the tally. But Dulle put together an impressive 6-2, 6-3 win at No. 3 before Ly recorded the deciding point at No. 4 with his 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 comeback victory.
The exciting triumph propelled the Bulldogs into the championship match against the top-ranked Stags of CMS. Riding high from the earlier win, Redlands impressed with yet another doubles sweep with the usual suspects doing their respective parts. With a 3-0 lead, the Bulldogs worked to snag at least two of the six singles matches but it was not in the cards, as CMS came out firing and recorded straight-set wins at Nos. 2, 3, 4, and 6. Although Lipscomb battled his No. 1 counterpart to go the distance in a three-setter, he ultimately fell by scores of 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-2, which gave the Stags the deciding point.
Following the conference season, it was announced that Redlands gained four student-athletes among the All-SCIAC teams. Lipscomb and Wilson landed on the First Team, while Ly and Dulle collected Second-Team honors in an excellent representation of the Bulldogs.
With a late-season ranking of No. 11 and a 16-7 overall record, the Maroon and Gray held high hopes for a postseason opportunity. Unfortunately, the NCAA's announcement did not include the Bulldogs for the team championships. However, Lipscomb was selected for the individual singles championships and Ly and Dulle qualified for the doubles tournament.
While making his second NCAA appearance, Lipscomb shined with a first-round win to earn ITA All-America honors for the first time in his young career. He opened the day with a first-set tiebreak before dropping the second set. In an incredible third-set battle, the talented Bulldog stayed in the moment and overcame some big serves by his opponent to finally break him for a 5-4 lead. However, the Gustavus Adolphus College (MN) player broke back to eventually force a tiebreaker. In a back-and-forth battle, Lipscomb finally gained a 5-4 lead before knocking down two quality serves for the win and All-America honors.
Dulle and Ly faced the same opponent and his partner in doubles action but this time the result went in favor of Gustavus Adolphus, sending the Bulldog duo home with a 6-3, 6-2 loss.
Beyond the tennis court, the Bulldogs gained a pair of ITA Scholar-Athlete awards in Nilsson-Redman and Wilson for excelling in the classroom.
Amidst individual achievements, an impressive run up the national rankings, and plenty of memorable victories, the Redlands men's tennis team orchestrated an incredible season that promises to inspire future success. Although the loss of three talented seniors requires attention, the Bulldogs hold high expectations for its returning crew to carry this year's momentum to the next level and beyond.