Evan Sporer, Beacon staff
Despite its 0-7 start to the season, the Emerson men’s tennis team said it has continued to preach communication on the court, something it believes is fundamental to success.
So when a tennis ball floated neatly through the air, lingering just a few feet away from the net during Saturday’s match vs. Norwich University, captain Will Abeles made sure his teammates knew what he was doing.
Abeles darted over to the ball, yelling, “Mine,” through the courts of Pine Manor College. In one motion the captain swatted it out of midair with his racket and high over the heads of his opponents to land a point.
This type of play was common for Abeles and his doubles partner, Nate Fuller, as the two dispatched their Norwich counterparts by the score of 8-1.
The two established a rhythm after that point. From there on, regardless of the outcome of the preceding volley, Abeles and Fuller met in the middle of their half of the court to exchange a hand slap and offer each other words of encouragement.
In contrast, their opponents rarely communicated verbally and slapped hands a total of three times during the entire match.
For Abeles, Fuller, and the rest of Emerson’s squad, communication was an old trick. On Saturday, the team came away with a new result, defeating Norwich, 8-1.
“I think this was a statement match,” Abeles said. “We’re confident playing [Great Northeast Athletic Conference] teams because of how much success we’ve had in the conference recently.”
Fuller and Abeles were successful in keeping their opponents off balance with strong net play, forcing the Norwich pair to labor and chase down many balls.
“[Abeles and I] both played consistent from the net and back,” Fuller said.
And while the senior and freshman did well to dominate the play, they also did well to stay focused. Both both players picked each other up when the other began to struggle.
At one point, Fuller double-faulted three consecutive serves, giving Norwich a huge advantage. It eventually led to the pair conceding their only point on the day.
Still, Abeles said he had to do whatever he could to encourage his partner.
“I got more stern with him,” Abeles said. “I was like, ‘Alright, let’s go; stop missing serves.’”
When Fuller’s streak finally ended, it was too late to salvage. But there was no hangover effect to speak of going into the next set. Fuller quickly smashed a forehand winner down the line, giving the duo an early advantage. They would not relinquish a point the rest of the match, easily finishing off their opponents.
“They were a pretty low energy team,” Abeles said.
The studio television production major said his team knew the conference implications going into the match and that they had to really focus in order to get the result. A loss would have meant Emerson would have no chance at hosting a GNAC playoff game, and most likely would have to travel four hours to Vermont to play the Cadets over again.
For head coach Mason Astley, the match was less about superfluous details and more about getting the job done.
“It was business,” Astley said of the win. “It was a better showing than the Suffolk match. We performed pretty well.”