Men’s tennis advances to Elite 8

After falling in the NESCAC semifinals to Amherst, men’s tennis shifted its focus to the NCAA tournament and reenergized for what the team hopes will be a deep run in the championships. The nationally eighth-ranked Ephs headed south to The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) campus for regional play this weekend and arose as the winner of the six-team field. With the victory, Williams advanced to the quarterfinals, which will be hosted by Bates next week.

The Ephs advanced to the regional final upon beating Christopher-Newport University in a routine 5-0 victory, and went on to face a more competitive squad in TCNJ.

The TCNJ match began unusually as the strong pairs struggled in doubles play. Nick Lebedoff ’10 and co-captain Gary Simonette ’08 fell at court two, 8-6. At court one, co-captain Dan Greenberg ’08 and Bret Thacher ’09 battled to a tiebreak but then managed only one point and lost the match. Down 2-1, the Ephs picked up the slack in singles play to mount a 5-2 comeback.

“After a rough couple of weeks, it was exciting to see us finally start to play our best tennis,” said Greenberg. “We put in some extra hours of practice last week, and I think that was key. Mentally, as well, we were much more poised. Even after dropping those two of three doubles matches to TCNJ, we remained confident and focused and really turned the tide in the biggest match of the year so far.”

The Ephs will face off against Claremont-McKenna in a quarterfinal match up at Bates on May 13. It is the twelfth consecutive quarterfinal appearance for Williams, and the first under the helm of new Head Coach David Donn. “This upcoming match is going to be very tough,” said Simonette. “[Claremont-McKenna] is very good and we have to expect that they are going to play well this late in the season. If we come out fired up and ready to play and bring that same intensity, then I think we will put ourselves in a great position to do great things.”

Despite the successful weekend, the Ephs know there is still work to be done. “Everyone’s thrilled, but not yet satisfied,” continued Greenberg. “We’re going to put in another good week of practice, reschedule some exams and then go try to accomplish our number one goal.”

Prior to NCAA play, Dan Greenberg was named the 2008 NESCAC Player of the Year. He also received NESCAC All-Conference First Team Singles honors for the third straight season. Simonette and Lebedoff were named to the NESCAC Second Team Doubles, while the tandem of Thacher and Greenberg joined them on the second team as well.