Men’s tennis (14-7) fell 5-0 in the NESCAC finals to Amherst on Sunday. The men had a successful weekend prior to their defeat in the finals, beating Trinity on Friday 5-1 to advance to the semifinal match against Middlebury, which they won Saturday 5-4. While the men did not earn the conference’s automatic bid to NCAAs, their national ranking garnered them an at-large bid into the tournament.
The men lost all three doubles matches against Amherst, putting them in a tough spot for the singles. Bryan Chow ’13 and Matt Micheli ’14 were defeated 8-3 in the first position, Felix Sun ’13 and Trey Meyer ’13 fell 8-4 in the second spot and captain Will Petrie ’12 and Kevin Shallcross ’12 were bested in the third spot 8-4.
The Ephs fell quickly in the singles matches, despite Chow leading 6-2, 5-3 in the fifth spot and Dylan Page ’13 leading 6-3, 3-4 in the sixth spot. Two other Ephs fell, however, giving Amherst the win. Micheli in the second spot was defeated 6-2, 6-1 and Meyer’s Jeff opponent toppled him 6-2, 6-4 at No. 3 to end the match early.
“Amherst is one of the best teams in the country, maybe the best, and we gave them too many opportunities in doubles,” Head Coach Dan Greenberg ’08 said. “We were fighting hard in singles, but digging out of that 3-0 doubles hole is tough. They played well and we didn’t quite match it.”
On Saturday, the men defeated Middlebury 5-4 in the semifinals. In the doubles, the Ephs won two of three matches. Sun and Meyer were dominant at the second position, winning in a score of 8-3, while Petrie and Shallcross found success in the third spot, taking the match 8-6. Chow and Micheli fell in the first spot 8-3.
Sun could not defeat his opponent in the first position, falling 6-2, 6-3, but Micheli’s victory in the second spot (6-4, 7-6 (2)) and Chow’s victory at the fifth position (6-3, 6-2) allowed the men to hold the lead. The Ephs then lost two matches, as Meyer in the third spot and Page in the sixth spot were defeated 7-5, 6-3 and 6-0, 7-5, respectively. The tally stood at 4-4 as Zach Weiss ’13 took the court with the team’s NESCAC title run at stake. The Eph was able to overcome his opponent 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-3 to give the men the final point to win the match and advance to the final. “There is unbelievable pressure in a match like that, where you’re the only guy on the court, with the entire day in your hands, and everyone watching you for the final set,” Greenberg said. “But we work all year on preparing for those moments, and fortunately Zach rose to the challenge. He scrapped for every ball, wasn’t scared of going for his shots, had great energy and basically wanted to be in that position.”
The men were dominant against Trinity, garnering a 5-1 win on Friday to advance to the semifinals. The Ephs swept the doubles, with Chow and Micheli winning at the first position 8-4, Sun and Meyer besting their opponents 8-2 in the second spot. Petrie and Shallcross fought to win the third position 8-6.
The Ephs only needed two singles points to earn the win against the Bantams. These points came from Meyer in the third spot, who won 6-2, 6-0 and Chow in the fifth position, who defeated his opponent 6-1, 6-1. These points put the men over the top, thereby allowing them to advance to the semifinal round.
Although the 10th-ranked men did not earn the automatic bid to NCAA Div. III Championships, they earned an at-large bid to the tournament. They will face the winner of the Farmingdale St. and Marywood match on Saturday. The tournament will conclude in Claremont, Calif. on May 25-26.
“We’ll spend the next few days honing the final details and making sure we’re 100 percent healthy,” Greenberg said. “We feel good about the progress we’ve made, so now we just have to polish up our games.”