Men’s tennis starts 4-2, faces Amherst next week

The national champion Williams College men’s tennis team opened the season with a 6-2 mark through eight games, the lone losses coming during a 2-2 spring break trip to California. After returning back to campus, the men’s team defeated Vassar, Swarthmore, Middlebury and then Tufts to extend its current winning streak to five.

Despite adverse outdoor conditions on Saturday, Williams defeated the Tufts Jumbos 6-1. The Ephs took five of six singles matches and won all three doubles matches.

At first singles, Josh Lefkowitz ’02 played a very tight, three-set match with Jumbo star Dave Ruttenberg and came out ahead 3-6, 6-3, 7-5. At second singles, co-captain Eric Hasenauer ’00 won easily in two sets over Sen Siva, 6-2, 6-3.

Dan Matro ’01 took the third singles point by a score of 7-5, 6-3. At fourth, Milos Janicek ’02 defeated his opponent convincingly, 6-2, 6-1. The final singles point for the Ephs came at sixth singles: Kurt Palmer ’02 defeated Danny Lang 7-5, 6-2. Senior co-captain Pete Stein dropped a very close match at fifth singles 1-6, 7-5, 6-4.

The Ephs played three tight doubles matches to start the day. Lefkowitz/Matro won their match at first doubles by a proset score of 8-6. Janicek/Stein won at second doubles 8-3, and Hasenauer/Palmer (Palmer played in the absence of Sumant Bhat ’03) won 8-4.

“Given that the windy conditions were just about as bad as I’ve ever seen them for a tennis match, I was really pleased with the way we competed today,” said head coach Dave Johnson. “Everyone found a way to deal with the situation, and I thought we fought off a very determined, feisty and hard-working Tufts team.”

Earlier in the week, the Ephs shut out Middlebury 7-0. The team came out extremely strong, taking control in each of the three doubles matches.

Lefkowitz and Matro were the first pair off the court, finishing off the first doubles match 8-1. The pair put constant pressure on its opponents with strong returns and effective shots down the middle.

“They came out strong and kept up their momentum the whole match,” said Middlebury first doubles player Matt Dougherty.

The Ephs wrapped up the other two doubles matches shortly after. Hasenauer and Bhat won an impressive victory at third doubles 8-2 with strong serving and aggressive net-play. The duo is now 3-0 for the season. Stein ’00 and Janicek won at second doubles 8-3.

“Our match went really well,” said Stein. “It was the fastest start that Milos and I have had as partners — we were serving and returning the best we have all year.”

Lefkowitz easily won his match at first singles, taking only approximately thirty minutes to defeat his opponent 6-0, 6-0.

Lefkowitz played an extremely solid match, marked by precision control, several aces and service winners, and deep, penetrating groundstrokes.

Hasenauer bounced back from dropping a close first set to win his match at second singles 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-4. Hasenauer was able to gradually wear down his opponent with his quickness, consistency, and stamina.

At third singles, Matro won easily 6-1, 6-1, boosted by a high first serve percentage and strong play at the net. Janicek won at fourth singles 6-4, 6-3, Stein won at fifth with a 6-4, 7-6(5) win, and Palmer wrapped up the singles lineup with a 6-1, 6-0 victory.

The wins over Middlebury and Tufts were preceded by home wins over Swarthmore and Vassar. The 6-1 win over Swarthmore was especially big, as Swarthmore is among the Ephs’ biggest competitors in Division III.

During their spring break trip, the team defeated Point Loma 4-3 but had its 16-game winning streak snapped by Azusa Pacific the next game. It lost a tough match to Redlands 4-3 in their next outing but rebounded to win over Claremont 6-1 to finish the trip 2-2.

On Wednesday, the team travels to Skidmore for a 4 p.m. match against the Thoroughbreds. On Saturday, the team faces off against Amherst at 1 p.m. at home.