Contact: Ben Badua
AMHERST, Mass. - Five-time league champion Amherst will take aim at its third consecutive conference crown this weekend as it hosts the 2013 NESCAC men's tennis championships. Wesleyan and Bates along with Tufts and Middlebury kick-off tournament play on Friday, May 3 at 9 a.m., with the winners advancing to Saturday's semifinals against either Amherst or Williams. The league championship will come to a close on Sunday, May 5 at 9 a.m.
FOLLOW LIVE: Amherst sports information will be tweeting live from the championship so be sure to follow all the action@amherstsports.
SCOUTING AMHERST (26-7)
Winners of its last 13 dual matches, the Jeffs are playing some of their best tennis heading into this year's championship. Taking aim at a third straight league title (sixth overall), Amherst boasts a formidable lineup that has not tasted defeat since a 7-2 setback against San Diego Mesa College on Mar. 23.
Headlining the top of the Jeffs' singles order is junior Joey Fritz '14. Seeing time in the middle of the Amherst lineup his first two seasons, Fritz has risen to the top of the order where he has posted a 9-2 mark in 2012-13. Winning six in a row, he wrapped up the regular season with a victory over 20th-ranked Alex Johnston of Middlebury.
Spitting time at first and second singles, Mark Kahan '13 has won each of his nine matches en route to a 14-4 record. Making an immediate impact in his first full season, Andrew Yaraghi '16 is 17-4, having notched a victory in eight of his last nine, including six in a row. During the fall, Yaraghi burst onto the scene with a triumph over fellow first-year Ben Fife in the ITA Regional Individual Championship.
Going 9-4 in the fall, Fife lost the ITA regional crown to Yaraghi, 6-2, 6-2. Playing in the middle of the lineup this spring, he has recorded a 6-6 mark. Winning each of his last seven outings, Chris Dale '14 is 10-2 overall, having seen the bulk of his action at fourth and fifth singles, while Justin Reindel '14 is 11-2 in the fifth and sixth slots. Having last lost to Bowdoin's Kyle Wolstencroft, he has come out victorious in 10 of his last 11 outings.
The Jeffs' top doubles pairing, Yaraghi and Dale are 3-1 as a tandem this season, including a 2-1 mark over Amherst's last three dual matches. Overall, Yaraghi is 16-3 (including a 12-2 mark this spring) in doubles play, while Dale is 8-4. Boasting a 4-2 mark with Kahan, Michael Solimano '16 could play a factor at second doubles, where he has won six of his last seven matches. Having played with Fritz just twice in 2013, Reindel has helped shore up the bottom of the doubles order, having won 10 in a row after losing his first match of the spring against Vanguard on Mar. 18.
Winning four of its final five matches, Bates (9-8, 6-4 NESCAC) captured the tournament's No. 4 seed and will square off with No. 5 Wesleyan (7-9, 5-4 NESCAC), which makes its first-ever championship appearance on Friday. Seven-time conference champion Middlebury (17-3, 5-2 NESCAC) secured the No. 3 seed and will face No. 6 Tufts (10-7, 4-6 NESCAC) in Friday's other first round match-up. Winning 11 in a row to start the year, the Panthers closed out the season with a 6-2 mark in April, with their only two losses coming to Amherst and Williams. Making their first trip to the NESCAC playoffs since 2011, the Jumbos will look to avenge a 5-4 loss to Middlebury on Apr. 21.
Second-seeded Williams (16-3, 7-1 NESCAC) has suffered only three setbacks in 2013, all by virtue of 5-4 decisions, including one to Amherst on Apr. 14. With 14 league titles already under their belts, the Ephs will take aim at their first conference championship since the 2003 season.
First Round - Friday, May 3
No. 6 Tufts vs. No. 3 Middlebury – 9 a.m.
No. 5 Wesleyan vs. No. 4 Bates – 9 a.m.
Second Round - Saturday, May 4
Winner No. 5/No. 4 vs. No. 1 Amherst – 9 a.m.
Winner No. 6/No. 3 vs. No. 2 Williams – 9 a.m.
Championship - Sunday, May 5
Second Round Winners – 9 a.m.