Men’s Tennis Underclassmen Upset National Champion Doubles Pair
Issue   |   Tue, 10/03/2017 - 21:37
Clarus Studios
Zach Bessette ‘19 played well at ITAs, making the quarterfinals in doubles.

Kicking off the fall season at Middlebury College, Amherst men’s tennis started with a strong showing in the ITA New England Regional Championship.

The Mammoths had five singles participants, including Sean Wei ’21, who opened his collegiate career with a run to the round of 16. In addition, three doubles teams also competed, with the duo of Zach Bessette ’19 and Kevin Ma ’21 making it all the way to the quarterfinals.

The singles tournament started on Friday with Bessette as the only seeded Mammoth at No. 9 overall. While he put up a valiant fight against Alex Vanezis of Middlebury, he was eventually defeated in three tightly-contested sets, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3.

The draw did not work out in Ma’s favor as he faced No. 1 overall seed Lubomir Cuba of Middlebury, the reigning singles and doubles National Champion.

Despite his inexperience, Ma forced a second set tiebreak before losing the tiebreaker 7-4, and thus the match 6-3, 7-6.
For his part, Wei fared well, notching a first-round 6-4, 6-3 victory, before claiming his second round match, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-2, in a comeback win over Williams’ Alex Taylor.

Wei’s run ended in the next round against Andrew Finkleman of Wesleyan in three sets, 6-2, 5-7, 6-2.

“Winning that match was a huge confidence booster because it showed me what I was capable of playing against a kid who was way stronger, more experienced and much older than me,” Wei said.

On the doubles side, all three Mammoth pairs made it to the final 16. Kaplan and Wei won 8-1 in a play-in match to get into the main draw, where they stunned the reigning doubles National Champion duo of Cuba and William de Quant (Middlebury), 8-3, before losing in the next round.

The other two pairs also had an excellent weekend, with Bessette and Ma starting off with an extremely close and competitive 9-7 victory over No. 5 seed Zain Ali and Boris Sorkin of Tufts. They rode their wave of momentum to an 8-5 win over Josh Quijano and Nick Glover from Bates and a spot in the quarterfinals before a tight loss to Luke Tercek and Grant Urken of Bowdoin, 8-6.

Lastly, the duo of Ethan Hillis ’21and Oliver Kendall ’19 found similar success, topping No. 6 seed Alberto De Mendiola and Brandon Rosenbluth of Babson 8-4, but ultimately the Amherst pairing lost to Cam Daniels and ZachFleischman of Wesleyan in the next round, 8-6.