Coming off a crucial and uplifting victory over NESCAC rival Amherst, the Williams men’s tennis team continued to play phenomenally, winning two key matches on the road against Trinity College and Skidmore College. The Ephs are now 9-2 for the season and currently enjoy an eight-game winning streak.
On Saturday, the team traveled to Hartford to play Trinity, one of the more competitive NESCAC teams on the Ephs’ schedule. The team rose to the challenge and played at an extremely high level, marked by very tight doubles matches and a quick adjustment to a new surface at Trinity’s indoor facility. After squeezing out the initial doubles point, the Ephs went on to an impressive 6-1 win.
“I was pleased with our team’s win, especially given the playing conditions,”
said head coach Dave Johnson. “Adjusting to a new surface on an away site always makes a coach nervous!”
The doubles point was crucial both for gaining a helpful early boost and removing some of Trinity’s energy and confidence. At first doubles, Josh Lefkowitz ’02 and Dan Matro ’01 won a difficult match 8-5. The pair is now 8-3 this spring. The other two doubles matches were even closer than that.
At second doubles, the Eph duo of co-captain Pete Stein ’00 and Milos Janicek ’02 lost a squeaker, fighting hard only to fall 7-5 in a tiebreak (to make the match 9-8). Sumant Bhat ’03 and Kurt Palmer ’02 clinched the doubles point at third doubles, pulling ahead late in the match to win 9-7.
The Ephs upped their games to a new level in singles. At first, Lefkowitz, who is the top rated singles player in Division III’s east region, impressively defeated Rosty Orach, another top-ranked NESCAC player. The final score was 6-4, 6-2.
“I was absolutely thrilled and impressed with Josh’s match. He demonstrated a range of play and competitive composure of the highest caliber,” said Johnson. “Too often, all of us take Josh’s ability and his winning of a singles point for granted. Today, it was good to be reminded of just how high Josh can raise his game and how impressive he really is when challenged by a talented opponent.”
At second singles, co-captain Eric Hasenauer ’00 improved to 10-1 on the season with a 6-3, 6-2 victory. At third, Matro won 6-4, 6-1, putting him at 9-2 this spring. At fifth, Palmer easily won his second straight match since moving up the fifth singles spot (6-3, 6-2). At sixth singles, Dave Ross ’02 won his second match of the season after taking over the sixth spot (6-3, 7-5). The only Eph singles loss came at fourth singles— Janicek lost 6-4, 6-4.
“It was a good match for us. They’re always a good team, but we played well and stayed on top of things,” said Hasenauer. “We’re looking ahead to the post-season but we maintained our intensity to get the job done.”
On Thursday, the Ephs finally had the opportunity to make up their match against Skidmore after nearly a week of temperamental weather.
The Skidmore squad came out feisty and ready to play, but the Ephs overwhelmed it and breezed to an easy victory, 7-0.
At the beginning of the match, the Ephs secured the doubles point by taking two of three matches, at second and third doubles.
At second, Stein and Janicek took the pro-set easily (8-2). At third, Bhat teamed up with Palmer for the first time to win 8-4 and clinch the doubles point.
Lefkowitz and Matro suffered a rare defeat at first doubles, dropping their match 8-4.
In singles, the Ephs only dropped one set on the way to a 6-0 sweep. At first singles, Lefkowitz won easily with a score of 6-2, 6-1. At second, Hasenauer dropped merely a game en route to a 6-0, 6-1 victory.
Matro had slightly more difficulty at third singles. After dropping the first set 6-3, Matro fought back to win the second set in a tiebreak. At a 2-2 standstill in the third set, Matro’s opponent defaulted due to an injury.
“I was definitely pleased to see Dan pull his game together against an ‘on fire’ Skidmore #3,” said Johnson.
The Ephs won the rest of the singles matches easily. At fourth, Janicek won 6-3, 6-3, at fifth, Palmer won 6-1, 6-2, and at sixth, Dave Ross ’02 came off the bench to provide a 6-2, 6-4 win.
“I was impressed that Williams came out solid and determined against a Skidmore team that definitely has talent,” said Johnson.