The Lehigh men’s tennis team earned a 4-3 victory over Bucknell University at the Ulrich Varsity Tennis Courts on April 11. Though the win marked the second Patriot League dual win of the season for the Mountain Hawks, it was special to seniors Jack Petersen and Dylan Karchere-Sun for another reason.
The contest against the Bisons was senior night for both tennis players and the final time they would play a match on Lehigh’s courts.
“I was very hungry to get a win, considering it was my last match on Lehigh courts,” Petersen said. “It felt unbelievable to come out with a win on senior day, especially against the team that knocked us out of the Patriot League Tournament last year.”
Both Petersen and Karchere-Sun have had a racket in their hands since they were young.
The two seniors are second-generation collegiate tennis players — Petersen’s dad and Karchere-Sun’s mom both played the sport as well.
“When I was about 2 or 3 years old, my parents would have me out there in a stroller while they were playing,” Karchere-Sun said. “Then, as soon as I could walk, they started throwing me tennis balls, and I have been playing ever since.”
Karchere-Sun grew up in Princeton, New Jersey, while Petersen lives farther from Lehigh.
“I grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, which is a pretty major college town, and once I sort of saw that atmosphere, I kind of wanted something smaller,” Petersen said. “I wanted to go to the East Coast and study business, and I am glad that I chose Lehigh.”
Ultimately, there were several reasons why Karchere-Sun chose Lehigh over the other schools that were recruiting him. Athletically, he said he felt a close connection to the coaching staff and the players. Academically, he said he enjoyed the campus and appreciated the quality of a Lehigh engineering degree.
Prior to playing at Lehigh, Karchere-Sun suffered from a torn ligament in his left wrist, giving him no other option but to persevere through the pain he felt whenever he hit his groundstrokes, especially his backhand. Karchere-Sun was eventually forced to switch to a one-handed backhand, which is not an easy task.
“(Karchere-Sun) has had a lot of injuries in his career,” coach Wouter Hendrix said. “The way he dealt with his injuries is quite admirable considering he had to change some of his strokes. He made the best of it, and that’s why he is the best possible teammate you could have.”
Petersen, however, started his Lehigh tennis career on a high note and has continued to find success since. As a sophomore, he was named Second Team All-Patriot League and earned the team’s Outstanding Athlete award at the end-of-the-year banquet. Last year, he led the Mountain Hawks with five singles wins in Patriot League play.
As the only two seniors on the team, Petersen and Karchere-Sun were asked to take on leadership roles this year. So far, they have led their team to winning records of 10-8 overall and 4-3 in league play.
According to the team’s most recent statistics, Petersen has a 3-1 singles Patriot League record and has won his last two singles matches. Karchere-Sun plays most of his matches on the doubles side and has an overall record of 2-2 this year.
While the senior duo excels on the court, Hendrix believes it’s their leadership abilities that set them apart from the rest of their teammates.
“(Karchere-Sun) and (Petersen) have been outstanding leaders for our team,” Hendrix said. “The way they carry themselves on and off the court and their work ethic is just phenomenal, and it rubs off on the rest of the team.”
After graduation, Karchere-Sun will work for the engineering consulting firm Jaros Baum & Bolles in New York. Though Petersen is still looking for a job, he said he is going to “trust the process” that has shaped him into the player, person and leader he is today.