Men’s tennis (16-3 overall, 6-2 in the NESCAC) beat Trinity (10-5, 5-4) last Wednesday and fell to Middlebury (17-2, 9-0) on Saturday before soundly defeating Hamilton (4-11, 0-7) 9-0 on Sunday.
Against Hamilton, the team started with three easy victories in doubles; Bret Thacher ’09 and Dicken Chaplin ’12 won 8-2, Nick Lebedoff ’10 and Will Petrie ’12 defeated their opponents 8-1 and Jeremy Weinberger ’10 and Kevin Shallcross ’12 won 8-2. All five singles players had equally easy matches; everyone won in straight sets, and no one surrendered than five games.
“Bret Thacher and Ari Binder [’11] were the stars of the day,” said tri-captain Richard Devlin ’09. “They really stepped up and set the tone for us in singles on courts five and six.” Thacher won 6-3, 6-2, and Binder cruised to an easy victory with a score of 6-1, 6-1.
“Coming out after a tough loss the day before and winning all three doubles matches was certainly something that we needed,” said Head Coach Dave Donn. “Hopefully we build some momentum going into NESCACs this weekend.”
The match against Middlebury – ranked sixth in the nation one spot ahead of Williams – was certainly a challenge. The Panthers beat the Ephs 8-1, though the score did not indicate how close the match really was.
The tough competition, coupled with the fatigue from getting up early Saturday morning, caused the Ephs to drop all three doubles matches. “We came out flat in the doubles. You can’t do that versus a great team like Middlebury and spot them a 3-0 lead,” Devlin said.
The singles matches were equally hard on the Ephs. The men lost five of six matches, though two went to three sets. The Ephs’ only victory came from Weinberger, who came from behind to notch a tough win, 5-7, 7-5, 10-5.
However, the Ephs refused to get disheartened by the loss. “We were close in many matches and with another week of practice are ready to earn our chance to avenge the loss in NESCACs,” Devlin said.
The Ephs began their week on a very strong note, coming from behind to defeat the Bantams 6-1. Trinity came out strongly, with their first doubles team defeating Chaplin and Thacher 8-6. Things were looking grim for the Ephs since the second doubles team of Lebedoff and Petrie were down a break at 1-4. However, they were able to refocus and defeat their opponents 8-6.
“Their [victory] was huge,” Devlin said. “Lebedoff and Petrie stepped up and gave us the momentum we needed to [beat] Trinity. [They] deflated after losing the doubles point.”
The Ephs built off the momentum of their win in the second doubles and won the next five matches in a row. Lebedoff, Weinberger and Devlin were all pushed to three sets before ultimately winning.
With the regular season over, men’s tennis will host NESCACs this weekend. On Friday the team will play Bates, who it defeated 7-2 during the regular season.
“I feel we’ve put ourselves in a good position going into the postseason,” Donn said. “We’re right in the mix, but we also realize the competition is as tough as it’s ever been and we need to come out ready to play from the first point to the last at all nine spots. That is the effort it will take to put ourselves in a position to be successful. We have to want those pressure moments.”