Tennis Displays Strength on Southern Californian Tour
By Matt Fernald '13, Sports Section Editor
The Amherst men’s and women’s tennis teams traveled to California over spring break, but not simply to enjoy the sunny weather. Both teams showed strength as they opened their seasons with winning records.

The men played 15 matches in six days, a grueling schedule that they handled impressively. Although they got off to a quick start in their opening win over Salisbury University, they dropped the next three matches. One loss in particular, against California Lutheran University, highlighted a few areas where the Jeffs could use some improvement as they dropped all three doubles matches in tight contests: 8-6, 8-6 and 9-7. Number one Austin Chafetz ’12 then dropped a heartbreaker in the number one spot, 7-6, 6-7, (10-8), and when Mark Kahan ’13 fell in the number two slot, the loss was sealed. The final tally in matches was 2-7.

“Our loss to Cal Lutheran was unfortunate, but hopefully it serves as a wake-up call for the team because it showed that we have a lot of work to do, especially in doubles. Getting our doubles teams working well together will really determine how we do the rest of the season,” commented senior co-captain Daniel Kim.

Despite the setback, the team rebounded immediately and in style, winning their next nine matches (not including a loss to Concordia University, which does not count toward their record) before losing their final match of the week to California Polytechnic State University, Pomona. They are 12-6 so far this year.

“As a team we came together and supported each other in a dominant win over the nationally-ranked University of Redlands,” said junior Max Gumport. This was indeed the case, as the team was able to quickly shrug off the previous day’s losses to regain their winning streak by coming out on top in two of three doubles matches as well as five of six singles matches in their 7-2 victory against Redlands.

The team now gets to recuperate for a week and polish some of their weaknesses before hitting the road again this Saturday. On the whole, they are rightfully optimistic about their prospects this season:

“I think supporting each other as a team would be our greatest strength,” said Kahan. That and the fact that their roster is loaded with talent promise a successful year for the Lord Jeffs.

The women only played five matches in California but, with the exception of their own unofficial 8-1 loss to Concordia, they defeated every school they faced, losing only two matches out of 36.

Their spring campaign got off to a perfect start with a 9-0 sweep of the Claremont Colleges, although the match was not quite as close as the score suggests. In the number one slot, senior captain Brittany Berckes had to fight to earn a 6-2, 4-6, (10-4) victory, and sophomore Laura Danzig won her match at number two 6-4, 7-5. The last four singles matches went much more smoothly, with each woman losing fewer than two games per set on average.

The following day against the Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens the Jeffs battled through three close doubles matches, winning the first two 9-8(4) and 9-7 while losing the third 8-6. They were clearly unfazed, however, as they quickly swept through all six singles matches, dropping only one set.

The women could do no wrong in their last two divisional matches against Sewanee and Chapman University. Against Sewanee they did not drop a single set en route to a 9-0 sweep, and against the Panthers dropped only the number one singles slot as Berckes was forced to retire down a break in the third set. Every other match that day was won in straight sets.

This year, with a big win over Williams College to open their season and four dominant performances over the break, the women are earning their stripes as the No.1 ranked team in Division III. The men next face Babson College this Saturday, March 27 at 10 a.m., while the women take to the courts at Connecticut College the next day at 1 p.m.

Issue 19, Submitted 2010-03-24 20:13:33