By Michael Purtell
Last weekend was a big one for Plattsburgh’s tennis season. Heading into the weekend with a 3-1 record, including one SUNYAC loss, the Cardinals were tasked with facing two conference rivals.
On Friday, Sept. 15, the Cardinals fell in a 1-8 loss to SUNY Cortland (3-2, SUNYAC 3-1). It bounced back the next day, Saturday, Sept. 16th, serving Oswego State (2-3, SUNYAC 2-2) in a 6-3 win. The season standing is 4-2, with a 1-2 SUNYAC record.
In the win, Plattsburgh started strong and left doubles with a 2-1 lead. Upperclassmen Sarah Benowitz and Hallie Hurwitz were able to take doubles #2, and first years Jacklin Mitchell and Ava Carey took doubles #3, both wins with a score of 8-6.
In singles, Oswego State’s Lakers evened out the standings with a victory in singles #3. Plattsburgh answered quickly, winning singles #2 and #4 through excellent play by Benowitz and Carey, respectively.
Benowitz captured her wins with scores of 7-5 and 6-1, and Carey with scores of 6-2 and 6-2.
After Oswego triumphed in singles #5, it was up to Nicole Svantner and Mitchell to earn a match-clinching win for the Cardinals. Both games went to three sets, and ultimately both Cardinals were victorious. Mitchell secured singles #6 with sets of 6-2, 2-6 and 6-3, and Svantner won singles #1 with sets of 6-4, 6-7 (3-7) and 6-1.
Svantner’s win was her first in singles #1, as this weekend marked her first matches played in that position.
“Oswego was a really great win for me personally. I fought really hard for that match. It was one of my best matches I’ve ever played,” Svantner said. “It’s definitely more of a challenge than what I’ve played in the past. Singles #2 is also quite difficult, but I’m up for the challenge and coach also thinks I’m ready to play at the #1 or #2 spot.”
This trust has paid off, as Svantner is currently 4-2 in singles with several strong wins across singles #1 and #2.
Mitchell took home a winning match in both meets — including the only win in the Friday loss (6-3 and 7-5) — continuing her dominant start to the season in singles, where she is currently undefeated at 5-0. While immensely proud of her start, this isn’t her first time with such a strong record.
“Throughout my high school career I was undefeated in in-season singles for all three years,” Mitchell said. “I like to be undefeated.”
Mitchell is just as proud of her performances in doubles and said her loss in Cortland helped her and her doubles partner, Carey, learn a lot about college tennis.
“We are the only two freshmen [playing] on the team, and we made a very strong connection through being doubles partners together,” Mitchell said. “Friday was a hard struggle for me and Ava. That helps us sometimes. Being humbled makes us want to do way better than we can do.”
Mitchell’s inspiration from her loss resonates with the team’s goals this season. Reeling from missing the SUNYAC final four last year, the returning athletes feel the same way about using their losses to push themselves.
“Our upperclassmen, and I never had a doubt in my mind that they wouldn’t, have really stepped up to the plate and set an example for our younger players. They came in off such a close loss to make the final four, and they came in this year telling all of our new members ‘this is what we have to do this year. This is our year,’” Head Coach Kelci Henn said.
The Cardinals continue their out-of-conference play today, Sept. 22, at Saint Michael’s College, and then host Farmingdale State for Plattsburgh’s Senior Day Sept. 23. The following week, it will travel to Johnson, Vermont to face Vermont State University-Johnson Sept. 28 and host Mount Saint Mary’s College Sept. 29 for a meet dedicated to Morgan’s Message, a national mental health awareness organization with a SUNY Plattsburgh chapter.
Plattsburgh will play its last home SUNYAC match against the two-time reigning SUNYAC champion New Paltz Hawks Sept. 30. Then, it travels to a tournament in Binghamton, New York, in which the Cardinals face SUNYAC rivals Brockport, Geneseo and Fredonia on Oct. 5, Oct. 6, and Oct. 7, respectively.