Men’s tennis secures string of wins as NESCAC play begins

Men’s tennis (8-6, 2-1 in the NESCAC) continued to build up its strong momentum this season, looking toward next weekend’s clash against archrival Amherst as they traveled last Sunday to face off against Conn. College. The Camels had a strong non-conference season but have struggled in NESCAC play, reeling from four straight NESCAC losses coming into the dual on Sunday, and their struggles only continued, as the Ephs handed them a resounding 9-0 defeat.

As soon as the first Camel pairing fell at No. 2, 8-2, to the Eph’s combination of co-captain Jose Raventos ’16 and Rohan Shastri ’17, the other two courts were quick to follow with the Eph tandem of Jordan Sadowsky ’18 and Alexander Schidlovsky ’16 claiming their match at No. 1, 8-3, mere moments before the other Eph duo of Brian Grodecki ’18 and Brian Astrachan ’16 downed their Camel counterparts at No. 3, 8-4.

If the Camels had any hopes of mounting a comeback in singles, those hopes were dashed quickly, as the Eph onslaught continued with Sadowsky the first off the court at No. 6, blanking his opponent. The Ephs would put the Camels out of their misery a short time later, and it was Raventos who would do the deed and clinch the match for the Ephs, cruising to a 6-0, 6-1 victory. Still with work left to be done, the remaining Ephs proceeded to win the remainder of their games. The team subsequently celebrated their first 9-0 win of the season.

Last Saturday, the men headed into their match against Little-Three rival Wesleyan with a competitive mindset. In spite of dropping an early point, the Ephs maintained focus during doubles, as the number-one team of Sadowsky and Schidlovsky leveled the Cardinals by coming out on the better end of an 8-4 scoreline.

The final match of the doubles portion saw the Ephs serving up a break late in the pro-set at No. 3, up 6-5. The Eph duo of Astrachan  and Grodecki learned from their mistakes from their last service game, holding serve this time to push the match closer to the eight-all tiebreaker that it would eventually reach after two more service holds. With the 2-1 advantage on the line, Astrachan and Grodecki exchanged blows with their opponents all the way to 6-6 in the tiebreaker, before taking control and banging out the necessary two points to claim the win for the Ephs.

The Cardinals were able to push the disappointment of the doubles portion out of their minds quickly going into singles; however, as they put together two quick wins at No. 2 and No. 4 to regain the one-point advantage in the match.

Momentum would not stay with the Cardinals for long, however, as Sachin Raghavan ’18 leveled the match for the third and final time of the day with a clutch win at the number six position, taking the first set 6-3 before grinding out the second set 7-6 in a tiebreaker.

Raventos would masterfullypull the Ephs to within just one point of victory on court one, as he fought back valiantly from dropping the first set, 7-5, to hand his opponent a pair of 6-3 sets that would earn the Ephs their fourth point of the day.

With Grodecki locked in a three-set duel of his own at five-singles, Shastri was doing everything in his power to keep his match at No. 3 out of a third set. After his opponent luckily squandered an opportunity to serve out the first set at 5-3, Shastri came roaring back to force a tiebreaker wherein he cruised to a straightforward 7-1 victory. The second set would not prove to be much different from the first, ending with a tiebreaker. This tiebreaker, however, would be dramatically different from the first set’s, as it took twice as many points for a winner to be decided when Shastri finally put away the match and the overall dual for the Ephs by the margin of 9-7.

Even with the match already decided, Grodecki was not about to let up at five-singles, as he took his opportunity to polish off the match for the Ephs. Grodecki proceeded to down his opponent 6-3 in a decisive third set to take the match.

Last Wednesday, the men opened their conference play against NESCAC rival Middlebury. The men were put on their heels very early on in the match with a quick 8-2 win at No. 3. The other two matches were played out at much closer margins, but the results were no different, as both remaining Panther pairings bagged 8-5 victories against their Eph opponents.

With this sharp jolt to their systems, the Ephs went into singles needing a monumental effort. In spite of their fight, however, the Panthers had too much in the tank. As a result, the Ephs were not able to make up their early deficit.

The first two matches off the court at No. 1 and No. 2 saw the Panthers clinch the match. Raventos fell in straight sets, 6-3, 6-3, before Schidlovsky fell 6-3 and 6-2 to hand the Panthers the overall win.

Shastri fought to earn the Ephs their lone point of the match at the No. 3 position on the court, coming back from a set down to outlast his opponent 10-5 in a super tiebreaker.

Unfortunately, Conrad Harron ’17 at four-singles could not follow Shastri’s example, as his opponent managed to reverse the score line from court three in favor of the Panthers, besting Harron 10-5, after Harron had fought back well in the second set to level the match at one set apiece.

The remaining Panthers each took their matches at No. 5 and No. 6 over Grodecki and Raghavan respectively: the former 10-7 in a super tiebreaker, the latter in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4.

The team is confident about what lies ahead for the rest of the season. “Since spring break we’ve struggled with a few injuries but I finally feel like we’re in the right track,” Head Coach Dan Greenberg ’08 said. “We’re healthy and starting to make the progress necessary to compete in this conference. Excited to see how we compete this weekend vs amherst and tufts, both of which will be huge tests.”

The men are set for another double-header away weekend next Saturday and Sunday, which is set to get underway at 1 p.m. on Saturday against rival Amherst away.