Men's Tennis Triumphs in Two 5-4 Thrillers
Issue   |   Tue, 10/21/2014 - 23:22

The Amherst men’s tennis team spent their Fall Break on a road trip, traveling to face top-tier opponents, seventh-ranked Johns Hopkins and ninth-ranked Carnegie Mellon, for their first dual matches of the fall. The Jeffs came away with two key 5-4 victories to start the season undefeated for the second straight year.

“I think from an expectations standpoint, I was just excited to see how the guys were going to compete and how we would handle two tough dual matches early in the season,” said head coach Todd Doebler on his thoughts heading into the weekend.

On Saturday, Amherst got on the board early against Johns Hopkins, earning two doubles victories, with Andrew Arnaboldi ’17 and Andrew Yaraghi ’16 topping Tanner Brown and Justin Kang 8-3 in the third spot and juniors Russell Einbinder and Michael Solimano defeating Nicholas Garcia and Noah Joachim 8-4 in the second spot. The Jeffs, however, could not clinch the doubles trifecta, as Aaron Revzin ’16 and Andrew Scheiner ’15 fell 8-6 in the top spot.

With a 2-1 advantage going into the singles matches, the Jeffs needed three more victories to secure the win. In spite of this, Johns Hopkins responded with two wins of their own in the No. 1 and No. 5 singles spots, as Mike Buxbaum defeated Solimano 6-4, 6-1 and Jeremy Dubin routed Scheiner 6-2, 6-1, respectively. Revzin was able to even the score a three apiece, as he topped Ben Hwang 7-5, 6-1 in the second singles spot.

“I think he’s playing up to the potential he always had, and it obviously helps being 35 pounds lighter,” said Doebler when asked to comment on Revzin’s performance. “I think it was big for the team the way he competed all weekend long, and he came through in those singles matches.”

The teams would then exchange a pair of wins, with Yaraghi coming away victorious in the third spot 7-6, 6-2 and Einbinder falling in the fourth spot 6-4, 6-4, leaving the match to be decided by Arnabolid in the sixth singles spot. After dropping the first set tiebreaker, the sophomore came back to claim the next two sets and the match, giving Amherst the 5-4 win.

“He was the man in that match against Hopkins. To be down a service break, 3-2, in the third and then win four straight games was really clutch,” Doebler said. “He’s one of the hardest workers on the team. He would never tell you that, but he is, so his hard work has definitely paid off, and it was fun to see him come through.”

The following day, Amherst was unable to obtain the doubles edge against Carnegie Mellon, notching their only victory in the third spot thanks to Arnaboldi and Yaraghi. The 1-2 hole didn’t phase the Jeffs, however, as they rattled off three straight singles victories to go up 4-2. Solimano recorded the first singles win in the top spot with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Abhishek Alla, and both Arnaboldi and Yaraghi continued their stellar weekends, adding two more to the win column for Amherst.

“AY has been doing a great job in being fired up for practice and also these matches. For him to go 4-0 on the trip was huge for us,” Doebler said.

Carnegie Mellon narrowed the gap with a win in the fourth spot, as Einbinder fell 6-3, 6-3, but Revzin clinched the victory in the second spot, defeating Will Duncan in three sets. After losing the first set tiebreaker, the junior cruised through the following two sets, 6-2, 6-1.

Doebler also noted some of Revzin’s other talents, saying “As impressive as his singles victories were, he was also the team navigator and DJ for 20+ hours, so he came in clutch there as well.”

In the final match of the day, Kunal Wadwani defeated Scheiner in three sets, 1-6, 6-1, 7-5, bringing the score to 5-4 and ending a successful weekend for the Jeffs.

“I know a lot of people outside of Amherst probably counted us out when they saw that huge loss to our lineup [graduating Joey Fritz, Chris Dale, and Justin Reindel], so it was a really great weekend to see everyone step up,” said Revzin on the team’s overall performance.

The team is still competing without Anton Zykov ’17 who remains injured.

“These teams are two top-eight teams, and if we can beat those teams without one of our best players, I’m very excited to see what we can do when everyone is playing their best,” said Revzin on Zykov’s absence.

A number of Jeffs also competed in the Wallach Invitational at Bates over Fall Break. Though only senior co-captain Sean Rodriguez was able to advance to the second round of the “B Singles” draw, Doebler still has a positive outlook moving forward.

“The Bates tournament was good in the sense that we were able to get those guys those matches,” he said. “I think the guys who went on the trip learned a lot from that experience. It should serve as good motivation for them to continue to improve and work hard.”

The conclusion of the fall season will cap off a solid debut for the new coach, who was hired in August following the departure of former head coach Chris Garner. With just two more weeks left of the fall season, Amherst heads into the offseason with lofty aspirations for the spring where they look to defend both the NESCAC and national title.

“We have a really competitive group of guys that really came through on a tough road trip against two really good teams,” said Doebler when asked to describe the overall takeaway from the weekend. “I think it should give the guys confidence going into the spring and also should motivate them knowing that there aren’t going to be any easy matches come dual match season.”