WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. – The top-ranked Amherst College men's tennis team successfully defended its NESCAC title with a 5-2 victory over Bowdoin College in Sunday's conference championship finals.
Joey Fritz '14 sealed the win for Amherst (29-2) by posting an impressive victory in the fourth singles match, giving the Lord Jeffs the NESCAC's automatic bid to the NCAA Championship.
Bowdoin (13-7) will hope for an at-large selection to the national tournament after upsetting third-ranked Williams College in Saturday's semifinals.
Sunday marked the second conference title in as many years for the Lord Jeffs, who have won 21 consecutive matches against NESCAC teams. As the defending NCAA champion, Amherst has posted a 65-3 record in the past two years.
Wes Waterman '12 and Chris Dale '14 gave Amherst a 1-0 lead with their 8-5 win over Casey Gordon and Chris Lord in the third doubles match. The Polar Bears quickly tied things up at 1-1 when their top pairing of Oscar Pena and Samuel King handed seniors Austin Chafetz and Luis Rattenhuber their first loss of the year, 8-2. Chafetz and Rattenhuber had been 9-0 as a duo since they began teaming up on Mar. 23.
It looked like Bowdoin was going to take a 2-1 lead into singles action, as Doug Caplan and Kyle Wolstencroft held leads of 4-1 and 7-6 over Amherst's Andrew Jung '12 and Mark Kahan '13 at number two. The Lord Jeffs battled their way back and earned a pivotal 9-8 win, giving Amherst a 2-1 advantage after the doubles session.
Chafetz avenged his loss in doubles play by cruising past King in the No. 2 matchup (6-3, 6-2), and Waterman soon brought the score to 4-1 in favor of Amherst with his 6-2, 6-3 win over Wolstencroft in the sixth matchup.
Amherst's 4-1 lead was deceiving, as Bowdoin battled back to tie the third and fifth singles matches at one set apiece. Pena then picked up a second point for the Polar Bears with a three-set win against Kahan (6-2, 1-6, 6-3) in the top spot, snapping Kahan's 30-match win streak and marking his first loss in singles play since Mar. 14, 2011.
Bowdoin looked poised for a comeback in the fourth singles match, as Gordon jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second set after Fritz had won the first for Amherst, 6-2. Fritz faced a 5-3 deficit but wouldn't lose another game, battling back for the 7-5 victory to seal the title for the Lord Jeffs.
Amherst will be making its 14th appearance in the NCAA Championship, having posted a 22-12 record in the national tournament. The Jeffs finished as the national runners-up in 2009 and 2010 before earning the program's first-ever NCAA title last year.
The NCAA Regional Championships will begin Friday, May 11. More information will be posted on Monday when the tournament's participants and regional host sites are announced.
No. 1 Amherst def. No. 3 Bowdoin, 5-2
1. Oscar Pena/Samuel King (B) def. Austin Chafetz/Luis Rattenhuber (A), 8-2
2. Andrew Jung/Mark Kahan (A) def. Doug Caplan/Kyle Wolstencroft (B), 9-8(5)
3. Wes Waterman/Chris Dale (A) def. Casey Gordon/Chris Lord (B), 8-5
1. Oscar Pena (B) def. Mark Kahan (A) 6-2, 1-6, 6-3
2. Austin Chafetz (A) def. Samuel King (B) 6-3, 6-2
3. Luis Rattenhuber (A) vs. Chris Lord (B) 6-4, 5-7, 0-1 (DNF)
4. Joey Fritz (A) def. Casey Gordon (B) 6-2, 7-5
5. Andrew Jung (A) vs. Noah Bragg (B) 6-3, 2-6 (DNF)
6. Wes Waterman (A) def. Kyle Wolstencroft (B) 6-2, 6-3
2012 NESCAC Men's Tennis Championship
Hosted by Williams College * Friday-Sunday, May 4-6
First Round - Friday, May 4
No. 4 Middlebury def. No. 5 Bates, 5-4
No. 3 Bowdoin def. No. 6 Trinity, 5-0
Semifinals - Saturday, May 5
No. 1 Amherst def. No. 4 Middlebury, 5-1
No. 3 Bowdoin def. No. 2 Williams, 5-3
Championship Match - Sunday, May 6
No. 1 Amherst def. No. 3 Bowdoin, 5-2