Strings of Success: Tennis teams smack NESCAC opponents, set sights on national titles
By Varun Iyengar '14, Sports Section Editor
The men’s and women’s tennis teams have romped through the early portions of their schedules, and appear primed for the championship stretch run. After tough losses at the NCAA tournament last season, both teams are looking to change the script this time around. The two squads face stern tests this weekend against Middlebury in their respective regular season finales.

Men

The men’s tennis team came into this week looking to preserve their perfect NESCAC record and build momentum going into the final matchup of the regular season. With three wins over nationally ranked opponents in two days, the team accomplished those goals and much more, tying the school record for wins in a season as Amherst improved to 28-1 on the year.

The fourth-ranked Jeffs notched impressive wins against 15th-ranked Trinity (7-2) and 22nd-ranked Brandeis (9-0) on Saturday, before wrapping by the weekend by blanking 24th-ranked Bates (9-0) the following day.

In hosting Trinity on Saturday afternoon, Amherst faced its toughest challenge of the weekend. However, the Jeffs dealt with this NESCAC opponent handily, earning two of the three doubles and five of the six singles points.

Notable among the singles contests was the effort at No. 5 by Justin Reindel ’14. Reindel shut out his opponent 6-0 in the first set, before getting blanked himself, 0-6, in the second. However, the freshman recovered well and eked out a 10-4 advantage in the third set to pick up the victory. With the win, Amherst moved to 6-0 in conference play on the year.

Later that same day, the Jeffs were back on the court for a non-conference matchup against Brandeis University. Battling through fatigue, the team made its victory look easy, sweeping the Owls, 9-0.

In fact, Amherst did not drop a set in the contest, earning all straight-set wins, many of them in crushing fashion. Moritz Koenig ’11 only dropped one game at No. 2 singles, running off a 6-0, 6-1 victory " a feat that was replicated by Sean Doerfler ’11 at No. 4 singles.

In the final matchup of the weekend, the Jeffs faced off against Bates. Again, Amherst shut its opponent out 9-0 and, for the second straight contest, did not drop a set. That the team was able to accomplish this in two consecutive matches is a testament to the roster’s depth and talent. Again noteworthy was Doerfler, who, at No. 6 singles, dominated his opponent en route to a 6-1, 6-0 victory.

The Jeffs are now 7-0 in NESCAC play and will battle for the conference’s top seed when Middlebury comes to town this Saturday. The two teams have yet to play this year, but it figures to be a close contest as the Panthers are the nation’s top-ranked team.

Both teams will put their undefeated conference records on the line, and Amherst will look to pull off the upset in their final match of the regular season.

Women

Coming off an impressive win over No. 2-ranked Williams last Sunday, the top-ranked women’s tennis team looked to use its momentum to its advantage as the Jeffs faced off against three NESCAC opponents this week. The Jeffs traveled to Tufts on Tuesday, where they edged out a 5-4 victory, before returning home to crush Bowdoin and Trinity in a double-header on Saturday.

With these victories, the team has now won 10 consecutive matches, a streak that dates all the way back to March 19th, during the spring break trip to Florida. On that day, Amherst lost to Barry University, the fourth-ranked team in Div. II; against Div. III competition, the Jeffs are still undefeated.

Facing off against Tufts University, the Lady Jeffs barely preserved their perfect NESCAC record against the fifth-ranked team in the country. The Jumbos had already played spoiler on two occasions this season, earning victories over both No. 4 Chicago and No. 8 Washington and Lee, and were on the verge of their biggest upset yet.

Through eight matches, the teams were even at four points apiece, leaving the No. 6 singles contest as the decider. With the match hanging in the balance, Amherst’s Mimi Bell ’11 outlasted Tufts' Edwina Stewart 6-1, 7-6 (7-3) in a gutsy performance that clinched the Jeffs’ victory. Carlissa King ’11 also earned an impressive victory for the Jeffs, coming from behind to post a 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 win at No. 2 singles.

The Amherst-Tufts matchup was also significant as it featured a matchup between the top- and second-ranked doubles teams in the NESCAC. Amherst’s duo of Gabby Devlin ’14 and Jordan Brewer ’14 proved that they deserve their top seed with an 8-4 victory over Tuft’s second-ranked tandem of Julia Browne and Shelci Bowman.

Having gotten through their toughest match of the week, the Lady Jeffs rolled through their final two opponents. Hosting Bowdoin on Saturday, Amherst blanked the Polar Bears, 9-0. They followed up this impressive win with another shutout over Trinity College later that same day. With their victories, the team preserved their perfect NESCAC record, moving to 7-0 in NESCAC play and 14-1 overall for the spring season.

The Lady Jeffs will go into their final matchup of the season with well-deserved confidence. However, the team will be sure not to underestimate 10th-ranked Middlebury, as they look to build momentum heading into the NESCAC Championships the following week.

Issue 24, Submitted 2011-04-27 03:14:52