In their last fall tournament, the Trinity men’s tennis team ended on a positive note with a second-place finish at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s (ITA) Oracle Cup in Surprise, Arizona. The doubles tournament consisted of top Division III talent from all across the country, but the Tigers team of Matt Tyer and Wilson Lambeth performed admirably. They were able to make it to the championship match, only to fall short in a close loss to Emory University.
The Tiger men’s tennis team came into the ITA Oracle as the no. 2 seed, creating some high expectations for the week. Rightfully so, Trinity was confident when asked about their outlook on the tournament. Senior Clayton Niess was not at all surprised by the stand-out play from Tyer and Lambeth.
“We were all expecting to do well. Our practices were good leading up to the tournament, so we went in with a high level of confidence. The competition was tough. You are always going to be up against good players and this year was no different. Matt and Wilson winning the doubles was great, and I think we can build off their success going forward into the spring season,” Niess said.
The Tiger men’s doubles team of Tyer and Lambeth began with a quick disposal of Spencer Watanabe and Alex Namba of George Fox University 6-3, 6-3, in the Division III doubles play-in match to begin the tournament, building momentum for their next bout in the quarterfinals. From there they made light work of the University of Chicago’s Tyler Raclin and Max Hawkins 6-4, 1-6, 10-4. The Tiger duo then advanced to the final after defeating Yangeng Jiang and Kyle Wolfe of Bowdoin College 6-3, 5-7, 10-6.
The Trinity duo of Tyer and Lambeth were a menace for opposing teams, making their presence felt at the ITA Southwest Region Championship the week prior to the Oracle Cup. Tyer is no stranger to the big stage, as he was able to take home the top spot in doubles with his last teammate at the ITA men’s doubles championship last year. Already having a national title under his belt, Tyer is well aware of what it takes to step up when it matters most.
“Our expectations for the national tournament was to make a good run and compete at the best of our ability. Everything else after was just a bonus. The competition we faced had a wide variety of styles. In the finals match the guys came out with more energy than we did and kind of took our advantage of being powerful players away from us. I am excited about this upcoming spring season because me and will showed that we will hold a strong spot against all the top teams and will hopefully make a run into the ncaas for both team and individuals,” Tyer said.
Lambeth, a sophomore, was happy to have competed at such a high level in such a important tournament. His chemistry with Tyer is improving and he is optimistic about Trinity tennis this upcoming spring.
“We expected to have great results because we knew we were one of the best teams at the tournament. Every team we played was incredibly talented, we had to play our best to make it to the finals. We were disappointed that we lost in the finals but realize that we did extremely well. We played well throughout the tournament and learned a lot about each other’s playing styles. We just need to stick to our game plan instead of playing like our opponents. We’re excited for the upcoming season because we know we’re one of the best teams in the country,” Lambeth said.
Trinity’s success in the past few years at the ITA championships have been unprecedented, as this is the third year in a row that a Trinity men’s doubles duo has played in the championship round of the prestigious national tournament. Hopefully the Tiger men can continue their success in the spring, as they begin match play in early February.