FRANKLIN SPRINGS - Led by experienced players from last year's NJCAA III Men's National Champions and Women's No. 4 ranked team, the Oxford Eagles traveled to Emmanuel College on Saturday to compete in their first tests of the season.
Results were mixed, with the men winning their dual match while the women were slightly edged out in their contest.
"Both the men and women had tons of bright spots today" said Oxford head coach Brandon Feldman, "but there were also a lot of things that jumped out for us to work on. Sometimes you need real match conditions for that to happen; playing each other every day is good but not always enough. I came away from the day, though, with an overall positive feeling for the season."
Both teams started off in a hole by dropping two out of three doubles matches.
For the women, the No. 1 pair of sophomore team captain Madeline Spratt and first-year player Sheetal Kandola gave up an early lead to lose a close match, while the No. 2 team of freshman Amy Minotti and sophomore Ellen Simons could never really garner any momentum in their match.
The No. 3 team consisting of freshmen Maggie Dancel and Whitney Woodruff proved the lone bright spot for the women, cruising through their first collegiate doubles match with a victory.
For the men, the doubles matches were close and could have all gone either way. Last year's top NJCAA III No. 2 doubles team of Michael Reddy-Miller and Erik Lanza moved into the top spot for the first match of the season; however, they could not hit their stride.
Meanwhile, the No. 3 team of freshmen Narjit Aujla and Elliot Kindler faced the same difficulty in their loss. The No. 2 team of veterans Niel Kuttappan and Jochen Chang pulled out their close match while pairing together for the first time in competition this year.
Having earned only one point each for doubles, both Oxford squads had to win four of the six singles matches to win their respective matches.
The women, however, were only able to pull out wins at No. 2 singles from Minotti and No. 5 singles from Dancel.
No. 6 Woodruff fought back from a set down to win the second set, only to fall 11-9 in a super breaker for the match.
The men started their singles matches with a bang. Reddy-Miller, Lanza and Kuttappan all earned victories, leaving just one more match for victory.
The last match on the court, with the men's match tied at four matches apiece, was the No. 4 singles player, Aujla. Having won the first set 6-4 and down 4-5, Narjit was able to pull even to force a tiebreak for the set and hold on to win, securing the match for the Eagles.
Oxford's women's tennis team is scheduled to play again Saturday at Young Harris College. Home matches will begin in February, with the spring schedule being announced by the end of this month.