Nationally-Ranked Tennis Teams Smack Opponents
By Varun Iyengar '14, Contributing Writer
Women

The top-ranked women’s tennis team enjoyed a successful start to the spring season down in Florida last week. The Jeffs finished with a 3-1 record on the trip, including a huge win over the third-ranked team in Div. II, Lynn University. Their victories legitimized their top spot in the Div. III rankings and demonstrated their great potential this season.

The team began the trip with a 7-2 win over St. Petersburg College, a highly ranked team in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA), and followed that victory with a 9-0 sweep of Hillsborough Community College, the eighth-ranked school in the NJCAA.

Later in the week, the team kept their unbeaten streak alive with an impressive win, 5-4, over Lynn University. While Lynn took the No. 1 doubles and top three singles matches, the Jeffs showed their depth and swept the rest of the matches. Most remarkable was Caroline Richman ’13, who had earned a come-from-behind victory at No. 5 singles after dropping the first 7-5. Richman took the second set in a tiebreaker, 7-6(7), and was leading 4-1 in the third before her opponent retired. Also in singles play, Gabby Devlin ’14 and Natasha Brown ’11 worked their opponents for straight set victories, while the tandems of Brown and Laura Danzig ’12, and Jennifer Newman ’14 and Richman earned 8-4 and 8-5 wins, respectively.

The trip concluded with a loss to Barry University, the fourth-ranked team in Div. II. Barry stretched its perfect record this season to 12-0 by taking five of six singles matches and two of the three doubles contests. Notably though, Devlin had a hand in both of Amherst’s victories at No. 1 doubles and No. 4 singles. Even with the loss, the team returns to Amherst as the No. 1 team in Div. III.

After traveling to California in previous years for spring break, the team chose to play in Florida this season to test themselves against better competition. The Jeffs will not have to wait long to put their hard work to the test against conference opponents. Their first NESCAC match of the season is scheduled for next Thursday on the road against Wesleyan. This contest is followed on Saturday by a non-conference rematch with Wesleyan and an out-of-conference match with Brandeis.

Men

The second-ranked men’s tennis team began its spring season in Southern California last week, beginning the 2011 campaign in impressive fashion. The team traveled to Newport Beach, Calif. " their third year in a row at that location " and began the trip with 14 consecutive wins. Although the team did drop their last match of the trip to No. 4 Claremont, their results represent significant improvement from last year when the team went 10-5 on the same West Coast swing.

Overall, this early-season success was quite promising for a team considered to be one of the favorites to take the national championship this year. Over the course of the trip, the team defeated a number of quality opponents, including Vanguard University, whom Amherst had never before beaten since adding them to the schedule two years ago.

The team was also battling the difficult, underappreciated transition from practicing indoors throughout the winter season to playing outdoor matches in California. For four weeks of indoor practice, the team did not have to deal with wind or glare from the sun, so it took a critical adjustment to succeed when faced with those conditions.

The Jeffs’ success is even more impressive considering the schedule stacked against them. On multiple occasions, the team had to play three matches in one day and each time rose to the challenge, demonstrating both mental and physical stamina. That success was “a testament to the focus and depth within the team,” according to captain Moritz Koenig ’11, and such adversity only helped build greater camaraderie amongst teammates.

Even their last loss did not dampen spirit too much, but rather served to sharpen the team’s drive for the upcoming season. “We take great motivation from the loss and are looking forward to put ourselves in a position to excel in NESCAC play and to beat Claremont if we face them again,” said Koenig.

This positive attitude will serve the team well as the Jeffs have no time to look back. They play again next weekend, away at Wesleyan, in the team’s first NESCAC match of the year, in addition to an out-of-conference matchup at MIT.

Issue 19, Submitted 2011-03-25 10:51:00