Men’s tennis participates in annual Villanova Invitational, featuring strong first-years

The mens tennis team competed in several close matches this past weekend at the Villanova Invitational. (Photo courtesy of Arman Ganchi 25)

The men’s tennis team competed in several close matches this past weekend at the Villanova Invitational. (Photo courtesy of Arman Ganchi ’25)

This past weekend, the men’s tennis team participated in the annual Villanova Invitational, their second invitational of the fall season. In addition to Lafayette, the tournament included Bucknell, Villanova, Colgate, Lehigh and Saint Joseph’s.

At this invitational, there was an atypical bracket, in which two-man entries played a doubles match and two singles matches to determine which duo from each team advanced. While Lafayette’s teams didn’t pull out an overall win in the main bracket, many of the matches were extremely close against strong competition.

In Lafayette’s first match against Villanova, the team of sophomore Arman Ganchi and freshman Nick McKenzie won their opening doubles match in a tight victory, claiming it 7-6 (7-5). Ganchi nearly claimed the overall match, winning a close second set against Villanova before falling 10-6 in a ten-point match tiebreak. The tie was eventually lost 2-1.

Similarly, junior Davis Esslinger won his singles match against Bucknell in a hard-fought eight-game pro-set, winning 8-6. The tie was lost 2-1, however after a close battle competed by senior Josh Wolfe.

“It was very good to be exposed to this competition because it is making me hungrier to get better to beat these guys when we get to our championship season in the spring,” Wolfe, the team captain, wrote in an email. “We think we are very capable of beating anybody in the league.”

Against a different Villanova pair, freshman Sam Gelber paired up with sophomore William Woolley to claim a solid 6-4 win in doubles before falling in the singles against strong upperclassmen. 

On Saturday, the team of freshman Jake Magnusson and senior Nash Lovallo battled hard against Lehigh, falling 2-1 after Magnusson won his match 9-7. Unfortunately, many of the consolation matches could not be completed after rain canceled play on Sunday. 

Lafayette’s impressive first-year class featured across many of the matches, which features its strongest recruiting class in over a decade with five recruits all being ranked two-star recruits or higher. The team’s new players and returning top lineup players resulted in its highest Universal Tennis Rating (UTR) Power Six rank in years, a metric that will result in very competitive matches throughout the season. 

“Our depth is much stronger up and down our lineup, and I am looking forward to seeing how the new additions will help us in the future,” head coach Ralph Van Ormer wrote in an email. “I can already see the impact they are having in the fall season and in practice.”

Van Ormer is entering his sixth season as head coach of the program.

The team looks to start fresh with its new lineup and make headway in the Patriot League over the course of the season. Wolfe made clear that the team is fiercely competitive in their goal to win against top rivals.

“Our team is not going to settle for ‘just being competitive’ against schools that have beaten us pretty decisively in the past,” Wolfe wrote. “We are all going in with the intention to win every match we play, and we hope the work we put in reflects our results.”

The men’s tennis team will be traveling to Rider University for a dual match on Sept. 23, a match they won 6-1 last year at home.