Contact: Matthew Hart
KALAMAZOO, Mich. – The Amherst College men's tennis team ended its season on a positive note Wednesday, defeating Washington University of St. Louis, 5-2, in the Third Place Match at the NCAA Championships. Amherst concludes its season with a 31-9 record while Wash U falls to 20-7.
A day after a hard-fought setback to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in the national semifinals, the Lord Jeffs rebounded, taking second and third doubles from the Bears before clinching the win with triumphs at fourth, first and third singles. With rain forcing the match indoors, the teams held doubles competition at the Kalamazoo YMCA before relocating to West Hills Athletic Club for singles play.
No. 3 duo Joey Fritz '14 and Justin Reindel '14 started things off in dominant fashion for Amherst, powering past Jeffery Hirsh and Gary Parizher, 8-1, before Ben Fife '16 and Andrew Yaraghi '16 made it 2-0 for the Jeffs, edging Josh Cogan and Kareem Farah, 8-5, at second doubles. The Bears stopped the bleeding in dramatic fashion at No. 1s, with Adam Putterman and Ross Putterman pulling out a long tiebreaker from Mark Kahan '13 and Michael Solimano '16 for the 9-8 (11-9) win.
With the Jeffs needing three more points in singles play, Fife took care of Tyler Kratky at fourth singles, capping his strong first-year season with a 7-5, 6-1 triumph. Wash U soon made it a one-point match, however, as Ross Putterman held off Kahan's comeback bid at No. 2, 6-3, 7-6.
With long points keeping fifth and sixth singles in their second sets, Nos. 1 and 3 came down to a third, and Amherst was too much for the Bears in both rubber matches. After dropping a 6-4 opener to Adam Putterman, Fritz came roaring back with a pair of 6-2 wins to put the Jeffs on the doorstep. Yaraghi then clinched the triumph at third singles, rebounding from a 7-6 first-set loss to Tim Noack with 6-4 and 6-3 wins.
In the two unfinished matches, Chris Dale '14 took the fifth singles opener from Parizher, 6-4, but trailed 4-1 in the second while Reindel topped Farah 6-2 to begin but trailed 2-1 in the second.
While the contest marks the end of team competition for Amherst, Fritz, Kahan, and Yaraghi will remain in Kalamazoo to compete against the nation's top individuals in the 32-player singles championship. Seeded seventh in the field, Fritz opens on Thursday against Hayden White of Washington & Lee while Kahan faces Tanner Brown of Johns Hopkins and Yaraghi battles Coe College's Noah Sprinkel.
As a team, Amherst has posted a staggering 124-24 (.838) record over the past four years. The Jeffs will bid farewell to seniors Surain Asokaraj, Kahan, Alex Kim, Dan Keolasy, Matt Lerner, and Will Rives.