Third-Ranked Men's Tennis Improves to 29-2
Issue   |   Tue, 04/22/2014 - 22:05
Photo Courtesy of Niahlah Hope '15
Michael Solimano '16 has been a critical component to both the Jeffs' doubles and singles success this season, going 5-1 this past weekend to contribute to Amherst's five consecutive wins. The team looks to secure No. 1 seed in NESCAC this upcoming weekend against Middlebury.

The third-ranked Amherst men’s tennis team remained undefeated in the NESCAC with five wins over conference teams this past weekend. The Jeffs’ success culminated on Sunday with a 5-4 victory over fifth-ranked archrival Williams on the Ephs’ home courts.

The team’s weekend began on Friday with a home match against Conn. College and an away match against 27th-ranked Trinity. Having to split squads, a number of Jeffs saw the court, and Amherst defeated both teams 9-0 to add two more sweeps to their growing season total.

Against Conn., first-year pair Anton Zykov and Andrew Arnaboldi stepped up in No. 1 singles, winning 8-2. In the No. 2 spot, Justin Hendrix ’14 and Sean Rodriguez ’15 stayed unbeaten on the season, edging their Camel opponents 8-6 and Myles Tang ’17 and Carlos de Bracamonte ’16 cruised to an 8-1 victory in the third spot.

In the singles matches, senior co-captain Chris Dale split the first two sets of his match 6-0, 3-6 before winning the third set 6-1 to earn the victory in the No. 1 spot. The rest of the ladder featured straight set victories, including a 6-0, 6-0 win by Brenton Arnaboldi ’14 in the fifth spot. Notably, in the No. 4 spot, Ben Fife ’16 played in the line-up for just the third time since returning from shoulder surgery. The sophomore won his match 6-3, 6-3.

The Jeffs saw similar success against Trinity, outscoring their Bantam opponents 97-39 in games. In doubles, senior co-captains Joey Fritz and Justin Reindel recorded another win in the top spot 8-6, while sophomore pair Aaron Revzin and Andrew Yaraghi won their match in the No. 2 spot 8-4, as did Michael Solimano ’16 and Russell Einbinder ’16 in the third spot.

Up 3-0, Amherst rode the momentum into the singles matches, not dropping a single set. Fritz (6-4, 6-2), Solimano (6-2, 6-1), Yaraghi (6-2, 6-3), Reindel (6-0, 6-0), Revzin (6-0, 6-4) and Einbinder (6-1 7-6) all rolled to straight set victories to cap off the 9-0 sweep.

“I believe the success of our program depends on the individuals that make it up. If they support one another academically, athletically and socially, it creates a bond amongst the team,” head coach Chris Garner remarked on the team’s accomplishments thus far. “If they take advantage of their practice time, they will create a competitive team.”

On Saturday, the Jeffs dominated Hamilton 9-0 in the morning and followed with another 9-0 win in the afternoon over 29th-ranked Wesleyan.

Against Hamilton, Einbinder and Dale took the No. 1 doubles match 8-1, and Rodriguez and Hendrix won 8-4 in the second spot. Tang and de Bracamonte defeated their Continental opponents in the third slot for their second 8-1 win of the weekend.

In singles, the Jeffs had very little trouble; no Hamilton player was able to record more than three games in any of the matches. Of note, Fife earned another singles victory, defeating his opponent 6-0, 6-2 in the third spot, while fellow sophomore Einbinder stepped up in the top singles spot for a 6-1, 6-2 win.

Later in the day, Amherst took down Wesleyan for their fourth straight sweep of the weekend. Fritz and Reindel prevailed in the top singles spot 9-8, while Greg Lyon and Cameron Hicks were no match for Revzin and Solimano in the second spot, as the sophomore duo cruised to an 8-1 win. Zykov and Yaraghi rounded out the doubles with an 8-4 win in the third spot.

The Jeffs’ success continued into singles play, winning yet again all six of the matches. In the No. 5 spot, Yaraghi was forced to play a third set tiebreaker to decide his match after winning the first set easily 6-0 and then dropping the second 4-6. The sophomore edged his Cardinal opponent in tiebreaker 10-8 for the win. In the third singles spot, Solimano won his first set 6-1 and second set 7-6 to win his match and avoid a tiebreaker.

“In college tennis, you have to stay focused the whole time because the level of play is so high. Everyone is a really good player, so what separates the guys who win from the guys who lose are the people who stay focused the whole time,” Solimano said. “That’s the goal: to stay focused for as long as you can. It’s obviously tough to do that every single point, but the more you can do it, you’re putting yourself in a better position to win.”

Riding a 16-match win streak into Easter Sunday, the Jeffs hoped to avenge their 5-4 loss from the 2013 NESCAC Finals against fifth-ranked Williams.

“All the other matches are about the tennis, but Williams-Amherst is all about the emotion. Anything could happen. It’s been 5-4 the last four years, which shows we have a lot of heart,” Revzin commented on the rivalry.

Amherst got on the board first, as Yaraghi and Zykoy defeated Alexander Schidlovsky and Brain Astrachan handily 8-1 in the No. 3 doubles spot. However, Williams answered with wins in the top two doubles spots. Revzin and Solimano could not overcome an early break by Jose Raventos and Rohan Shastri, losing the second doubles match 8-5, and Fritz and Reindel fell to Matt Micheli and Conrad Harron by the same score in the top slot.

Down 1-2 going into the singles matches, the Jeffs needed at least four victories to notch the overall W. Yaraghi tied things up at two apiece with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Raventos in the No. 5 singles spot, while Solimano followed suit with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Schidlovsky in the No. 3 spot to give Amherst the 3-2 lead.

Reindel extended the lead to 4-2, defeating Adam Reich in the No. 6 singles spot, 6-1, 6-4. The Ephs’ Howard Weiss cut the lead to 4-3, downing Zykov in the fourth slot, 6-4, 7-5. With just the top two singles matches remaining, Amherst needed one more win to secure the victory. Fritz lost a heartbreaking three-set match to Micheli in the top spot. After winning the first set 6-4, the senior couldn’t capture the hotly contested second set 6-7 (5), and Micheli pushed the third set to another tiebreak, where Fritz lost 6-7 (3).

“It was a tough match,” Garner added on Fritz’s performance. “They have played a couple of times, and both matches were very close.”

As Fritz battled Micheli in the top spot, all eyes were on second singles, which proved to be the deciding match. After losing a back-and-forth first set, 5-7, Dale dominated Harron in the next two, winning 6-1, 6-2, to clinch the win for the Jeffs, as they knocked off the reigning national champions. Dale’s performance earned him NESCAC Player of Week Honors.

“Chris hung tough after a very competitive first set. Both players played really well,” Garner said.

The victory improved Amherst’s record to 29-2 on the season and 8-0 in the NESCAC. On Saturday, the Jeffs will travel to play eighth-ranked Middlebury for their regular season finale.

“We have to make sure the seniors are ready for their thesis defense; besides that, going to class, getting their academic work completed, so they have time for practice. If they can stay on top of their studies, they can use practice to blow off some steam for their next round of tests and papers,” Garner commented on the upcoming match.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Tue, 04/22/2014 - 23:04

I had no idea how much joey fritz has been slacking with his fitness...