Men’s Tennis Impresses with 11-1 Record, Falls to Top-Ranked Emory
Issue   |   Tue, 03/21/2017 - 22:33
Clarus Studios
Sophomore Zach Bessette won five of six matchups in singles and doubles this week, falling only to his top-ranked Emory doubles opponents.

The Amherst men’s tennis team opened its season with a spring break trip to Florida, where the purple and white faced a daunting slate of 12 matches in seven days. However, the purple and white was more than up to the challenge, posting an impressive 11-1 mark on the week, with the sole loss coming at the hands of No. 1 Emory University.

Amherst began play on Sunday, March 12, with a pair of matches against 30th-ranked Stevens Institute of Technology and Roger Williams. Over the course of the two matches, the purple and white only suffered one loss, dominating Stevens 8-1 and sweeping Roger Williams 9-0.

The match against the Ducks proved to be the closer of the two affairs, but only by a slim margin, as Amherst swept five of the six singles courts and managed two impressive doubles wins courtesy of Jayson Fung ’20/Zach Bessette ’19 and Gabe Owens ’20/Josh Marchalik ’20.

Against Roger Williams, the purple and white won each of the three doubles matches 8-0 and allowed the Hawks to take just six games across the six singles matches.

Amherst’s all-conquering play spilled over into Mondays doubleheader, in which the purple and white defeated No. 20 Kenyon and Colby Sawyer by scores of 8-1 and 9-0, respectively. Amherst’s first singles loss of the trip came against Kenyon, when senior Anton Zykov fell on the first court.

The impressive underclassman quintet of Bessette, Marchalik, Fung, Owens and Oscar Burney ’20 made up for Zykov’s loss, however, picking up wins on the remaining singles courts in addition to a second straight sweep of the doubles courts for the purple and white.

Like Roger Williams, Colby-Sawyer proved to be no match for a rotated Amherst squad in a contest that saw Colby-Sawyer lose every set in singles play, the closest affair coming on the fifth-court, where Cameron Raglin ’19 posted a 6-4, 6-4 win.

Rest was on short supply for the purple and white who had to play yet another double-header on Tuesday, besting 25th-ranked University of Texas at Tyler 6-3, the team’s closest win of the trip, and then posting a third 9-0 sweep against Ithaca.

Against the Patriots, Amherst used a 2-1 mark in doubles play to jump out to an early lead, one which the team consolidated with a 4-2 record on the singles court, again spurred on by the play of Bessette and the talented first-year class.

Additionally, Ithaca proved to be the most challenging of the non-ranked foes that the purple and white faced, as the 9-0 scoreline brushed over the fact that Amherst needed three tie-breaking sets in singles play, while the doubles courts saw the Bombers come close to stealing a match.

Wednesday’s matchups, the seventh and eighth in four days, proved a welcome respite for the purple and white after the previous day’s battles, as the hot Florida sun saw Amherst emerge with two more sweeps, this time against Trinity University and Lake Forest College. The win over Trinity (TX) was potentially the most impressive result, given the Tigers’ national ranking of No. 14, one spot higher than the purple and white, and the fact that Amherst swept every single singles court and tallied comfortable wins in doubles action.

Lake Forest, on the other hand, entered with little to no hope against Amherst and were significantly outclasses by an Amherst team that was riding a seven-game winning streak.

Fatigue started to show for the purple and white on Thursday, however, with the purple and white tallying still-impressive, yet not quite dominant, wins over Rensselaer and Hobart by scores of 8-1 and 7-2, respectively. Coach Todd Doebler decided to switch up his lineups, moving Bessette to court one, where he gutted out a 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (7-5) win.

However, Amherst suffered its first loss in singles action in four matches, with Sam Silver ’17 falling 6-7, 6-0, 6-3 on court three. Against Hobart, the purple and white posted a fifth straight sweep of doubles play, suffering its only two losses on the singles courts.

Amherst, standing at a record of 10-0 and having played five straight days of double-headers, took a welcome day off on Friday, before traveling to Atlanta to close out the southern trip with matchups against Oglethorpe and Emory on Emory’s home courts.

Against the Petrels, Doebler returned to the lineups used in the first eight games, sending out his reserves, who still managed to put together an impressive display with four singles sweeps and three easy doubles victories.

However, Emory, the top ranked team in the nation, proved to be too much for the purple and white, who fell in a 5-4 heart-breaker.
Emory started strong on the doubles courts, using a pair of 8-6 victories on courts one and three to take a 2-1 lead into singles play, after the Amherst pair of Zykov/Burney fought to a 9-8 win on the second court.

The purple and white’s first-years keyed Amhersts efforts in singles play, with Marchalik, Fung and Owens all picking up two-set victories on the third through fifth courts respectively.

The purple and white were unable to pick up the crucial fourth singles victory, as Zykov, competing in the number two spot, fell in three sets, sealing the Emory win.

Ultimately, Amherst returns to campus sporting an impressive 11-1 record and will return to action this Saturday, March 25, when the purple and white face Harvard and No. 30 Bowdoin in another doubleheader in Cambridge. Amherst will open against the Crimson at 5 p.m., and will face the Polar Bears at 8 p.m.