Men’s tennis (13–7, 4–4 in the NESCAC) upset Amherst in the first round of the NESCAC tournament before falling to Middlebury in the semifinals.
No. 6 seed Williams squared off against No. 3 seed Amherst on Friday at the Bennington Tennis Center in nearby Bennington, Vt. The rivals had previously met on April 29, when the Mammoths prevailed 7-2.
Amherst had swept the doubles matches a week prior, but the men won two of the three doubles points on Friday. Rohan Shastri ’17 and Jordan Sadowsky ’18 defeated Oscar Burney and Josh Marchalik 8-5. Brian Grodecki ’18 and Alex Taylor ’20 fended off Zach Bessette and Jayson Fung 8-6, but the Amherst duo of Andrew Arnaboldi and Nathan Kapler won a close match despite a late surge from Sachin Raghavan ’18 and Ben Lebowitz ’20.
Shastri gave the Ephs a big lift when he defeated Bessette 7-5, 3-6, 6-1 at No. 1 singles. Grodecki dispatched Marchalik at No. 2 in straight sets, 6-1, 6-4. Amherst’s Jesse Levitin, however, won 6-2, 6-1 over Lebowitz at No. 6, and Burney defeated Deepak Indrakanti ’19 1-6, 6-4, 6-4. The Williams lead stood at 4-3 with two matches to play.
S. Raghavan closed out the Eph victory when he won 6-3, 6-3 over Fung at No. 3 singles. The match finished 5-3 Williams.
Head Coach Dan Greenberg ’08 said he was proud of the win over the team’s archrival. “It showed that we made a big leap in the last week,” he said.
The men moved onto the semifinal round, in which they took on No. 2 seed Middlebury. They had lost to the Panthers 5-4 on April 8.
In doubles, Lubomir Cuba and William de Quant won 8-4 over the Eph duo of Grodecki and Taylor. Shastri and Sadowsky prevailed 8-2 over Hamid Derbani and Kyle Schlanger to tie the match 1-1. Panthers Timo van der Geest and Peter Martin took the lead back with an 8-4 victory over S. Raghavan and Lebowitz.
S. Raghavan beat Hamid Derbani at No. 3 singles, winning 6-2, 6-2 to tie the match again, but at No. 2, de Quant defeated Grodecki 6-2, 7-6.
Ananth Raghavan ’20, however, notched a three-set win at No. 5, downing van de Geest 6-1, 2-6, 6-1 to even the match at three. At No. 1, Cuba, defeated Shastri 6-1, 6-1 to put the Panthers on the doorstep of victory. Schlanger delivered the fifth and final point for the Panthers, beating Indrakanti 6-2, 6-2 at No. 4.
“It was great to see us playing solid doubles and singles at NESCACs,” Greenberg said. “In the regular season, we often played well in one and not the other, but this past weekend we put them together.”
The Ephs received an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament on Monday. They have a first-round bye and will face the winner of Wilkes and Messiah in the second round at Amherst this weekend.
“We’re thrilled to be back in the NCAAs,” Greenberg said. “It’s so hard to make it from this conference, so I know the guys won’t take it for granted.”
The Ephs graduate Shastri and Alex White ’17 at the season’s end. “Our seniors have been awesome,” Greenberg said. “Rohan has fought at the top spot against the best players, notching some huge wins. Alex White has been my right-hand man, coaching on-court and figuring out logistics.”