The men’s tennis team continued to dominate the NESCAC by clinching the “Little Ivy” title with a win last Tuesday against Wesleyan and a seventh straight NESCAC title this past weekend. The win against Wesleyan improved the team’s record to 10-2 and its winning streak to nine.
“We really came out and played some strong tennis against a team that is much better than it gets credit for,” said Josh Lefkowitz ’02, the Ephs’ number one player.
The Ephs came out strong right away to clinch the doubles point by winning all three doubles matches. At first doubles, Lefkowitz and Dan Matro ’01 played steadily to win 8-4. The pair is now 9-3 on the season. At second doubles, co-captain Eric Hasenauer ’00 and Milos Janicek ’02— playing for the first time together — blanked their opponents, 8-0. At third doubles, Sumant Bhat ’03 and Kurt Palmer ’02 fought hard to win 8-6.
Janicek said about his doubles match, “We both played really well. We only lost a handful of points on our serve and were returning well on top of that, which made for a great match for us. We pounced right on top of them right from the start and didn’t even give them a chance to get any momentum in the match. It almost seemed as though we beat them off the court before they even knew what hit them.”
The Ephs dominated all six singles matches; no Wesleyan player was able to amass more than three games in any set. Lefkowitz, the top-rated singles player in Div. III’s East Region, won 6-1, 6-3.
“Everyone came out firing in their singles matches. My opponent played a tough second set in difficult conditions, and there really were one or two points that could have made the set even closer,” said Lefkowitz.
At second singles, Hasenauer obliterated his opponent 6-0, 6-0. Hasenauer is now 11-1 this spring.
“Eric Hasenauer had an unbelievable day of tennis today: no games lost in either doubles or singles. I can’t remember that ever happening before, but given the way Eric has been hitting the ball and competing this year, I can’t say that I’m overly surprised,” said head coach Dave Johnson. “Eric has really put his game together this season, as well as adding tremendous leadership to our team in his role as co-captain (with Pete Stein).”
At third singles, Matro won easily with a score of 6-2, 6-3, boosting his overall singles record to 10-2. At fourth, Janicek successfully recovered from a tough loss last weekend to win 6-2, 6-1.
“I was glad to have a match where I could get back into my groove after Saturday’s loss. I felt more confident, poised, and relaxed then I have the last couple of times on the court, too. I tried polishing a few of the things I noticed needed work from the Trinity match, and I think I’m on the right track for the NESCACs this coming weekend in Middlebury,” said Janicek.
Kurt Palmer ’02 played strong tennis at fifth singles, winning 6-2, 6-1, and Dave Ross ’02 continues to be undefeated after filling in the sixth spot.
Ross won 6-2, 6-3. “Winning a Little Three title is still a great feeling for me, and doing it for six years in a row makes me very proud of the consistency and quality that Williams tennis has delivered over those years. I know that ‘NCAA fever’ has washed over our sports scene here at Williams, but I still put tremendous stock in how we do against Amherst and Wesleyan in terms of the success of our season,” said Johnson.
The rout of Wesleyan gave the Ephs the confidence they needed to soar at the NESCAC tournament.
By the end of the weekend, the team clinched its seventh consecutive title by winning five of six singles flights and two of three doubles flights.
The Ephs finished with an overall score of 34.0, nearly doubling second-place Bates’ score of 18.0.
At first singles, Lefkowitz rolled to the title by defeating Amherst’s Reese Segal (6-2, 6-2) in the quarterfinals, Bates’ Dmitri Kudrjavtsev (7-5, 6-0) in the semifinals, and Trinity’s David Ruttenberg (6-3, 6-4) in the finals.
Hasenauer marched to the second singles championship with a quarterfinal victory over August Felker (Bowdoin) 6-1, 6-3, a semifinal victory over Trinity’s Alex Valente (7-5, 7-5), and the final win over Middlebury’s John Hugo (6-1, 6-0).
Matro fought his way in the championship match against Amherst’s Scott Chase to win 6-3, 1-6, 6-0. To get there, Matro defeated Wesleyan’s Darren Becker in the quarterfinals (6-0, 6-3), and Bates’s Greg Norton (7-6 (9-7), 6-3).
After working his way to the finals with wins over Connecticut College’s Greg Barnett (6-3, 6-1) and Bates’s Alex MacDonald (6-4, 6-7(4), 6-1), Janicek won the fourth singles title by default. His opponent from Trinity withdrew from competition.
At fifth singles, Palmer progressed to the title with victories over Bates’ Ben Lamanna (6-2, 6-3), Trinity’s Muammer Khan (6-1, 6-4), and Amherst’s Adam Leibsohm (7-5, 6-4).
Finally, at sixth singles, Ross played strong to advance to the finals but lost to Bates’ Dave Carlson (6-2, 7-5).
The Ephs played just as tough at doubles. Lefkowitz and Matro brought home the first doubles title with a win over Bowdoin’s team.
Hasenauer and Palmer won at third doubles over Bates’ pair, and Stein and Janicek lost a heartbreaker in the finals to Middlebury’s second doubles team.
The NESCAC champions now look ahead to a tough home match against MIT on May 6.
“It was an incredible feeling to watch the team’s level of play lift for this weekend’s tournament. If you had told me before the season began, after losing four starters from last year’s NCAA Championship team, that this year’s team would be as dominant in NESCAC as it has been, I never would have believed you,” said Johnson.”
The success of the this group is truly a compliment to their hard work and to their belief in themselves as competitors. The depth of the NESCAC field has never been so strong, but the Williams players are determined to reach the top.”