Jeffs Heading South for NCAA Title Defense

AMHERST, Mass. – The top-ranked Amherst College men's tennis team will continue its NCAA title defense in Cary, N.C., as the Lord Jeffs are set to take on Washington-St. Louis in the national quarterfinals on May 21.

Tournament Details: The final three rounds of the NCAA Division III Men's Tennis Championship will be hosted by Meredith College and the Town of Cary, N.C. Four quarterfinal matches will take place on Monday, May 21 at Cary Tennis Park, followed by the semifinals on Tuesday and the title match on Wednesday.

Live coverage: Each of the remaining matches in the NCAA tournament will feature live scoring. Links will be posted to the Meredith College championship website.

Scouting Amherst: The Lord Jeffs (31-2) have not relinquished the top ranking in Division III since defeating Emory in the 2011 national title match, placing a large target on Amherst's back heading into the final week of the season. The Jeffs are in the midst of a 16-match win streak that includes a victory over Bowdoin in the NESCAC finals, with additional wins over Middlebury, Williams and Johns Hopkins making Amherst a perfect 5-0 against the tournament field. Four players in the singles lineup rank among the top 11 in the Northeast, giving the Jeffs one of the deepest squads in all of Division III.

Amherst won the NESCAC title earlier this month.

Scouting Wash-U: The Bears (17-6) are the lowest ranked team remaining in the tournament (#15), but the 2008 national champs are 11-1 in their last 12 matches. Washington is 0-4 against teams remaining in the quarterfinals, suffering close losses to Johns Hopkins (5-4), Kenyon (5-4) and Bowdoin (6-3). Adam Putterman is the top-ranked singles player in the Central region, while he and Ross Putterman are 20-8 as one of the best doubles teams in Division III. Monday's showdown will be a rematch of the 2009 semifinals, when Amherst earned a 5-2 win over the Bears.

The Tournament Field: The winner of Amherst-Washington will face either fourth-ranked Kenyon (22-4) or fifth-ranked Claremont (21-6), two teams the Lord Jeffs are quite familiar with. Amherst defeated Claremont during the 2010 NCAA semifinals and earned a 6-3 win over the Stags earlier this year, but the teams are 2-2 against each other in regular-season play since 2009. Amherst has also been involved in great battles with Kenyon these past few years, with the Jeffs winning the 2008 (5-4) and 2010 (6-3) matches and the Lords taking the 2009 meeting (5-4).

The other side of the bracket features a pair of NESCAC teams in third-ranked Williams (17-2) and 10th-ranked Bowdoin (15-7), which will square off in Monday's quarterfinals. The Ephs have won three national titles and finished as the runners-up on three occasions, while the Polar Bears are making their first quarterfinal appearance since 2002. Williams advanced to last year's semifinals and is one of the most talented teams in Division III, but Bowdoin may hold the edge after upsetting the Ephs in the NESCAC semifinals earlier this month.

The NESCAC has claimed six of the last 13 NCAA titles, but standing in the way of the Bowdoin-Williams winner will be either second-ranked Emory (22-0) or 13th-ranked Johns Hopkins (19-4). Emory has advanced to the national title match seven times and is the two-time NCAA champion, but Amherst has ended the Eagles' tournament run in each of the last two years. Led by seniors Dillon Pottish and Chris Goodwin—who competed against each other in last year's NCAA singles championship—Emory has allowed only one team to score more than two points in a dual match this year.

Amherst carries a 16-match win streak into the quarterfinals.

Amherst's Lineup: Amherst is 19-2 in doubles matches in its last two NCAA tournament appearances, having gone 3-0 in each of the first two rounds last weekend. Seniors Austin Chafetz and Luis Rattenhuber lead the way as the top-ranked pair in the Northeast, having posted a 6-1 record together in NCAA tournament matches and an 11-1 mark overall this year. The Jeffs' top duo is coming off its most impressive performance, a dominant 8-0 win against an exceptional team from Vassar in Saturday's second round.

Playing in the second flight will be Mark Kahan '13 and Andrew Jung '12, who have won each of their last four matches. Kahan has been a regular in Amherst's doubles lineup since his rookie season, having put together a 9-3 NCAA tournament record in the past three years. Equally impressive these past few years has been Wes Waterman '12, who will team up with Chris Dale '14 after going 5-0 with Moritz Koenig '11 during last year's tournament run.   

Kahan stands atop Amherst's singles ladder as the No. 1 ranked player in the Northeast, having earned the clinching point in last year's title match as part of a perfect 5-0 tournament run. Chafetz brings an 11-0 NCAA tournament record into the second flight, while Rattenhuber will carry a seven-match win streak into the quarterfinals.

Joey Fritz '14 won this year's ITA New England regional championship and is unbeaten in his last five singles bouts, having also won both matches he finished during last year's national tournament. Playing behind Fritz at numbers five and six will be Jung and Waterman, who have been significant contributors since their first seasons. Jung is 12-2 in dual matches this year, while Waterman is riding a five-match win streak and is 8-2 all-time in the NCAA tournament.

Individual Championships: After the team championships, some of the country's best players will remain in Cary to compete in the national singles and doubles championships from Thursday-Saturday, May 24-26. Representing Amherst in the 32-player singles tournament will be Kahan, Chafetz and Rattenhuber, with Chafetz and Rattenhuber also competing in the 16-team doubles bracket.

For more information, visit the NCAA Championship Website.