National No. 12 men’s tennis (11-6), seeded No. 3 in the NESCAC tournament, ended its run for the championship in the final with a 6-0 loss to first-seeded and national No. 1 Middlebury on Sunday. The weekend began well with a rout of Bates and an upset of second-seeded and No. 5-ranked Amherst before ending with Sunday’s loss. The win over Amherst, which hosted the tournament, all but assures Williams of an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament.
On Sunday, playing indoors at Mt. Holyoke due to wind and rain, Middlebury showed the men why they are the top-ranked team in the country. The No. 1 doubles team of Dicken Chaplin ’12 and Bryan Chow ’13 lost 8-2 to one of the top doubles teams in the country, while the second team of co-captain Nick Lebedoff ’10 and Will Petrie ’12, as well as the third team of Felix Sun ’13 and Trey Meyer ’13 both fell 8-5 to give the Panthers a doubles play sweep.
The Ephs put the doubles matches behind them and entered their singles matches with confidence. Six singles matches were set to be played, but Middlebury needed just two wins to clinch the match and claim the NESCAC trophy. Lebedoff was the first to fall, losing 6-3, 6-2 at No. 2 singles. Knowing that they all had to win their singles matches, the remaining singles players dug deep in hopes of pulling off a dramatic come-from-behind win. Chow and Zach Weiss ’13 won the first sets of their matches 6-0 and 7-5 respectively, while the remaining players found themselves a set down. However, co-captain Jeremy Weinberger ’10 and Chow soon fell to their Panther opponents simultaneously, Weinberger losing 6-4, 6-2 at No. 3 and Chow going down 0-6, 6-3, 6-1, giving Middlebury the five matches they needed for the win.
Saturday’s match against Amherst went much better for Williams, with the Ephs playing their best tennis of the year. The doubles lineup was the same as against Middlebury and enjoyed much more success, as the men won 8-4 and 8-6, respectively, on courts one and two. The No. 3 team of Sun and Meyer fell 8-4 for a 2-1 team result on doubles play. In singles competition, Weiss, Chow and Weinberger gave Williams the three wins the team needed to advance into the title match. Weinberger showed his grit and senior leadership in winning the crucial fifth match 6-2, 6-1 against an opponent he had lost to earlier in the spring. Sun and Lebedoff fell at the No. 1 and No. 2 positions respectively before Weinberger completed his win, making the final score 5-3. Amherst is the highest-ranked team Williams has beaten all season.
The men were focused and eager against Bates on Friday, winning 5-0 without losing a set. Chow and Chaplin won 8-6 at first-position doubles while Lebedoff and Petrie won a close 9-7 match at No. 2. The first-year duo of Meyer and Sun dropped their Bobcat opponents 8-5 at No. 3. With a 3-0 lead heading into singles, the Ephs needed just two wins to secure a spot against Amherst in the semifinals. Weiss and Meyer were the first to win their matches in fifth and sixth positions, respectively, finalizing the sweep to advance to the next round.
Head Coach Dan Greenberg ’08 was impressed by the men’s performance last weekend. “I was thrilled with how we stepped up our game this weekend,” he said. “Against Amherst, our energy was as good as it’s been this season and our focus was there the entire match. It also felt like the plays we’ve worked on all year finally clicked, so we need to keep working on those these last few practices.”
Williams will play St. Lawrence on Saturday in their first match of the NCAA tournament. The match will be held at Amherst.