After huge victories over Amherst and in the NESCAC Tournament the week before, one might have expected the Williams men’s tennis team to rest on their laurels this week against Trinity and MIT.
However, this is not a team whose goals are simply to beat Amherst or dominate the NESCAC Tournament. Rather, their goal is to win the NCAA Tournament.
A 7-0 shutout of Trinity and a 6-1 drubbing of MIT proved this week that the Ephs’ are not going to let up until they are crowned national champions.
During the first set of the match between Andrew Fagenholz ’98 and Trinity’s Adam Gonopolsky last Sunday at the finals of the NESCAC Tournament, a coach from Trinity remarked to the crowd, “Fagenholz is just saving his energy for Wednesday (April 28).”
Facing Gonopolsky in Wednesday’s dual match with Trinity, Fagenholz crushed Gonopolsky 6-3, 6-1.
The Eph onslaught continued as James Frank ’98 won a close 1-6, 6-4, 6-3 match against Bantam Rostyslsav Orach. Eric Hasenauer ’00 obliterated his Bantam opponent, Timothy Stringer, 6-0, 6-2. Rounding out singles play were victories by Scott Zinober ’99 and Evan Hornbuckle ’99.
In doubles play, the Ephs #1 team of Fagenholz/Pete Stein ’00 narrowly lost a 9-8 match to Orach/Stringer. However, the Ephs were able to win the doubles point after the #2 team of Hornbuckle/Zinober and #3 Frank/Stein beat their Trinity counterparts.
After their win over Trinity, the team took on MIT, ranked in the top 20 in the country, later in the week. Frank led the way at #2 singles with his 6-3, 6-2 victory over MIT’s Anit Chakraborty. Sherman Lim ’00 came back to the Eph lineup after missing the Trinity match and came out with a 1-6, 6-4, 6-2 victory over MIT’s Ben Cooke.
Hasenauer, Bill Stebbins ’99 and Zinober each won their singles matches. The only blemish came when Fagenholz lost a closely fought 0-6, 6-4, 6-4 match to MIT’s Eric Chen.
However, in doubles, Fagenholz, teamed up with Lim, rebounded from his narrow loss to beat Chen/Cooke 8-3. The other two doubles teams of Hornbuckle/Zinober and Frank/Stein again won their doubles matches against MIT.
The two decisive victories left the Ephs in good standing as they prepared for the NCAA Tournament. By virtue of their undefeated record, the Ephs head into the Tournament as the #1 seed in the East Region and received a first-round bye. They will most likely face Binghamton or MIT on Saturday.
After their dominant victories this week, the team certainly seems ready to go all the way. “As the regular season ends, and NCAA play begins, we are still improving,” said Stein.“It seems like the bigger the match, the better we play.”
The team is counting on a big turnout from students of this college and they are going to great lengths to ensure that their Final Four matches will be well attended.
“ The Final Four is here in two weeks,” said Zinober,“If we make it, Sherman said he would allow any women to give him pre and post-match massages free of charge. That should provide plenty of incentive for students to come.”