Last Friday, the Ephs set out on their second trip of the season to Maine, as they made the long trek north and east to the campus of Bates, the site of the 2016 NESCAC Tournament. With a stiff field of competition, the men found themselves drawn against archrival Amherst in the quarterfinal round, looking to repeat their postseason performance from the 2015 NESCAC Tournament, as well as their regular-season showing this season, against the central-Massachusetts outfit. Despite snatching two wins in their last two duals against the nationally 14th-ranked side, the Ephs could not extend their streak to three, as the sixth-seeded purple-and-white upset the third-seeded purple-and-gold, 5-2.
One of the keys to their last two victories against Amherst was emerging from the doubles portions with the advantage, something that Williams was unable to accomplish on Friday evening. Uncharacteristically, none of the three doubles matches were particularly close. The Ephs trailed 5-2 on Court 1 and Court 3, while flipping that score-line in their favor on Court 2, and each team managed to capitalize on their respective advantages, culminating in 8-4 margins of victory on all three courts nearly simultaneously.
With the 2-1 lead going into singles, Amherst had a disappointing start to the second half of the dual, dropping sets on Court 2 and Court 4 to Brian Grodecki ’18 and Sachin Raghavan ’18, respectively, as well as facing breaks on two of the four other singles courts.
It was in that moment, however, that the well-oiled machine that won the 2014 NCAA Championship kicked into their top gear. Amherst’s Anton Zykov blasted past co-captain Jose Raventos ’16 in the first set on Court 1, inspiring his teammates Aaron Revzin and Jesse Levitin on Courts 3 and 6 to breaks and, ultimately, first sets of their own.
As the pendulum of momentum swung back toward Amherst, Grodecki leveled the overall score at two points apiece, finishing off Michael Solimano 6-2, 6-0. That would be the last point the Ephs managed in the dual, however, as the Ephs saw their chance at a return trip to the NESCAC Finals slip away. Zykov, Revzin and Levitin all sufficiently fought off any late surges by Williams to get one over on their biggest rivals and book their spot in Saturday’s NESCAC Semifinals against Bowdoin, a match they lost 5-2 which ended its season. The eventual NESCAC champion was Middlebury, who defeated Bowdoin convincingly in the championship match. Middlebury looks to improve on their national runner-up finish last year.
“We played pretty well in singles but got off to a bad start in doubles, which really cost us. Amherst played a much tougher match than the week before, so credit to them for putting it together. It’s a tough way to go out, but I think we had a really solid year and have a lot to look forward to,” Head Coach Dan Greenberg ’08 said.
The loss ended the Ephs sason, as the team was not granted an at-large bid by the NCAA selection committee. The men graduate co-captain Alexander Schidlovsky ’16, Raventos, Howard Weiss ’16, Blake Mackall ’16 and Brian Astrachan ’16.