Solimano '16 Brings Home ITA Singles Crown
Issue   |   Wed, 10/01/2014 - 10:14

Several members of the Amherst men’s tennis team traveled to Middlebury this past weekend to compete in the 2014 USTA/ITA Regional Championships. The Jeffs have experienced widespread success at this tournament, dating back to 2010 when Moritz Koenig ’11 and Wes Waterman ’12 defeated Mark Kahan ’13 and Luis Rattenhuber ’13 for the doubles title. Since then, Amherst has brought home either a singles or doubles crown in each proceeding year, featuring an all-Amherst singles final in 2012 when Andrew Yaraghi ’16 topped Ben Fife ’16 for the title. Fife clinched ITA All-American honors, however, his next time around by capturing the doubles championship with Fritz in 2013. With four straight years of ITA accolades under their belt, the Jeffs went into the weekend hoping to repeat this success.

“We obviously have big expectations for ourselves this year. This tournament didn’t count for our team record, but it’s still very important to us to represent Amherst to the fullest and let everyone know that we’re coming to play this season,” said Aaron Revzin ’16.

“I think the expectation was to come out and set the tone for what we hope to be a successful season,” added co-captain Andrew Scheiner '15.

Collectively, Amherst went 9-3 in singles on day one. Andrew Arnaboldi ’17 and Scheiner were both unable to make it past the first round of play, as Arnaboldi lost a three-set contest 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 to Brian Astrachan of Williams, and Scheiner fell 7-6, 6-3 to Jake Roberts of Wesleyan. Junior Russell Einbinder was able to move past the opening round with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 win over Edward Martinez of UMass Boston but was then ousted in the second round by Tufts’ Zain Ali 6-4, 6-2.

Anton Zykov ’17, seeded fourth, was considered to be a championship contender headed into the weekend. After winning his first two matches, the sophomore injured himself in the Round of 16, causing him to retire with a one-set lead over Steven Chen. His injury also led him and Yaraghi to default in quarterfinals of the doubles draw.

Juniors Michael Solimano, Yaraghi and Revzin all also advanced to the Round of 16 after notching two victories apiece on day one. Following a 6-3, 7-5 win over Jose Raventos of Williams, Yaraghi needed three sets to trump Brandeis’ Michael Arguello 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 in the second round. Revzin played a three-set match as well, where he topped Chris Frost of Middlebury 6-3, 3-6, 6-0 in the first round. He had a more comfortable match in the next round against Babson’s Isaac Thylen, whom he defeated 6-2, 6-2.

However, both Yaraghi and Revzin saw their ITA championship hopes come to a close at the start of day two, as Yaraghi fell to Jackson Frons of Middlebury 7-5, 6-4, and Revzin lost a hotly contested match to Wesleyan’s Michael Liu. After rolling in the first set 6-1, he couldn’t secure the second-set tiebreak or the third set, losing both 7-6 (3), 6-3.

“I had a couple good wins. I thought I played well. Though I missed some opportunities, it was definitely a motivating experience,” Revzin said of his individual performance.

Solimano, seeded second, breezed through the first rounds of play, dropping only a total of five games over the course of two matches. His closest match came in the Round of 16 against Rohan Shastri of Williams, but he managed to not relinquish a set, triumphing 7-5, 7-6 (5).

The junior continued to cruise, as he defeated Wesleyan’s Chase Savage 6-3, 6-4 in the quarterfinals. In the semifinals, Solimano avenged Revzin’s loss to Liu by defeating the Cardinal sophomore 6-3, 6-3. He would face another Cardinal in the finals, first-year Chen, who would prove to be no match for Solimano. The junior won handily, 6-2, 6-0 to claim his first ever ITA championship as well as All-American honors. His victory marks the fifth-straight year that Amherst has returned with either an ITA singles or doubles title.

“Mike has been working very hard in practice, so it has to be very gratifying for him to see it pay off,” Scheiner said of his teammate’s performance.

In the doubles portion of the tournament, Amherst had four teams competing. Arnaboldi and Scheiner received an early exit once again, falling to the Eph tandem of Jordan Sadowsky and Conrad Harron 8-4. Einbinder and Carlos de Bracamonte ’16 also were unable to move on following an 8-5 loss to Michael Arguello and Jeff Cherkin of Brandeis.

Solimano continued his superb level of play, pairing up with Revzin as the second seed in the doubles bracket. The two charged through the first two rounds of play, notching an 8-1 victory over Tyler Adams and Scott Gagne of Southern Maine in addition to an 8-3 victory over Raventos and Shastri.

In the quarterfinals, the duo was tested by Carl Reid and Vlad Murad of Colby. Though unseeded in doubles, Reid was named the top seed of the singles draw, while Murad upset fifth-seeded Harron in his first-round match of singles play. The match went the distance to 9-7, but Revzin and Solimano prevailed to advance to the semifinals, where they would face Arguello and Cherkin. After a solid 8-4 win, the championship match was set up to be a dual between the top two seeds, as top-seeded Pierre Planche and Chris Ellis reached the finals as well. In the end, the Bates duo would edge the Amherst pair, 6-2, 7-6 (5), for a bittersweet end to the Jeffs’ weekend.

“It’s obviously not disappointing when you make the finals, and I’ll certainly be thinking about missing a few of those shots on set point for the next couple of weeks, but I’ll bounce back,” Revzin said.

This weekend also marked team’s first official set of matches under the reign of new head coach Todd Doebler.

“It seems like he’s doing a great job thus far of motivating us and keeping the intensity high in practice. Obviously for some of the guys, this translated to success this weekend,” Scheiner noted.

“He’s certainly hit the ground running. Whenever you switch coaches, there’s going to be a transition, but I think it’s been a smooth one, and we’re all exciting about this coming season,” Revzin added.

Up next for the Jeffs is a series of two dual matches over fall break against Johns Hopkins and Carnegie Mellon.