Men’s Tennis Earns First Round Bye in NCAA Tournament Competition
Issue   |   Tue, 05/05/2015 - 23:29
Rob Mattson
Senior captain Sean Rodriguez looks to lead his No. 2-ranked squad as they enter the NCAA tournament, competing to defend their national title.

After a very successful regular season in which No. 2 nationally ranked Amherst went 19-4 (8-0 NESCAC), the top-seeded Jeffs were upended 5-2 in the NESCAC semifinals by archrival and fifth-seeded Williams at Middlebury on Saturday, May 2. The loss snapped a 10-match unbeaten streak for Amherst that dated back to Saturday, March 28. The team’s previous Division III defeat came against Pomona-Pitzer by a score of 6-3 on March 17.

The loss was a disappointment for the NESCAC regular season champions, who had won every NESCAC match by a score of at least 7-2 this season. They had also previously beaten Williams, by an 8-1 score, on April 18. Amherst moved to 19-5 on the season, while Williams improved to 12-9 before ultimately falling to second-seeded Middlebury by a score of 5-2 in the NESCAC finals played on Sunday, May 3.

The Jeffs fell behind 2-1 after rare setbacks in doubles play. Juniors Aaron Revzin and Michael Solimano dropped their first doubles match of the year by a score of 8-4 before Andrew Yaraghi ’16 and Anton Zykov ’17 tied the match at 1-1 after a convincing 8-2 victory on the No. 2 doubles court. Senior co-captain Andrew Scheiner and Russell Einbinder ’16 lost in the third spot, 8-6, giving the Ephs the slight edge heading into singles.

Williams never relinquished their lead, taking three out of five of the singles matches that were completed. Senior co-captain Sean Rodriguez fell 6-1, 6-1 at No. 5, making the score 3-1 in favor of Williams. Sophomore Andrew Arnaboldi won on the sixth court, closing the lead to 3-2, before Solimano (5-7, 3-6) lost at No. 2 and Revzin (6-1, 3-6, 4-6) lost at No. 4, clinching the 5-2 victory for Williams.

“You have to give credit to the Williams team,” Revzin said. “They played a great match after we beat them earlier in the year. They came back strong, and that’s what we’re planning on doing next week. It was a good wakeup call for most of the team.”

The Jeffs, who are defending national champions, are expected to return to action with a bid to the Division III NCAA tournament, which is slated to begin on Friday, May 8. The draw will be released later this week, but despite the loss in the NESCAC playoffs, the Jeffs are expected to receive a first round bye and a first round home match. Amherst looks to put this unexpected setback behind them going into the tournament.

“We’re lucky that we should still be in nationals and have a chance to learn and adapt from our shortcomings,” Revzin said.

Amherst looks to start it’s defense of it’s national championship title starting on Friday May 8th when the Jeffs will host the winner of Colby-Sawyer (12-10) and Yeshiva (12-3). Amherst received a first-round bye and will host the first three rounds this weekend. Interesting to note is that if Amherst and Middlebury both win out, they could meet in the Final Four for a rematch of the NESCAC Championship.

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