Showing the form that is likely to do them well in next weekend’s NCAA Regionals, men’s tennis rolled over the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Saturday afternoon in a non-conference match-up, overwhelming the slumping Engineers 6-1.
“They’ve been going through a little bit of a rough spell,” said Dave Johnson, head coach of men’s tennis. “But we know that, traditionally, MIT plays one of their best matches against us. We knew they had the potential to beat us, and I thought we played an excellent match in response.”
The Ephs (15-1) were sparked on Saturday by the return of Toby Reigeluth ’04, who played in his first match since returning from an off-season shoulder injury. Reigeluth, last season’s NESCAC champion at number three singles, took a close match over Walt Lin out of the number five slot by a final tally of 6-4, 6-4.
Reigeluth later teamed with Milos Janicek ’02 to record a decisive 8-4 victory at number two doubles, earning crucial points for Williams from the heart of the MIT (12-5) lineup.
“I was thrilled to finally be able to play in a match again,” said Reigeluth, whose status for the rest of the season is still undetermined. “It had been too long, and though I was not nearly at my best, it felt good to be back out there and feeling the pleasure of competing.”
All-American Josh Lefkowitz ’02 kept his hot streak alive, besting MIT’s top seed, Jeff Augustyn, in a 6-2, 6-1 decision and exhibiting dominant play in the doubles competition.
His partner in the 8-3 rout was frustrated standout David Frankel ’04, who won his own topsy-turvy singles match at number two, 6-3, 2-6, 6-1 over Andrew Kolesnikov.
Frankel, not normally known for outbursts on the court, was uncharacteristically vocal on the afternoon, venting his anger with booming cries of “Jiminy Christmas” and “Way-O” that delighted the partisan crowd on hand at the Torrence Hunt Center. “I was really struggling in the second set,” said the sophomore, “and luckily I was able to turn it around in time.”
The tandem of Daniel Murray ’04 and Lex Urban ’04 continued their strong run at number three doubles, emerging with an 8-6 victory over Lin and Mike Orgydziak of the Engineers.
Murray would move on to solo action later in the afternoon â€“ a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 winner at number six singles â€“ while Urban was replaced in the solo queue by the prodigious Tim White ’05. The hard-hitting frosh had no problems with fellow rookie Eric Makhni, rifling his way to a 6-2, 6-1 blowout.
“I think the match went really well for us,” said Murray. “MIT hasn’t had the year that they usually have, but we knew that they are a talented team and everyone was ready to play.”
His doubles partner, Urban, was similarly impressed by the Ephs’ preparedness against their non-conference opposition. “Everyone was prepared to play their best tennis even though we knew we were the better team,” he said. “I think the team is really starting to come together and hit its stride at the right time.”
Urban, however, saved the bulk of his praise on Saturday’s work for two teammates in particular.
“For one, Josh is playing some unbelievable tennis and everyone is following his lead and competing really well,” he said. “Also, Daniel did a great job of pulling off his match.”
Still sitting atop the rankings in the latest national polls, Williams will move on next weekend to NCAA Regionals, a competition that the Ephs have a good chance of hosting.
Williams will be back in action this coming Friday, looking to defend its national championship. If the Ephs can play their game they should be in good position to repeat.