Contact: Ben Badua
LONGMEADOW, Mass. - The third-ranked Amherst men's tennis team punched its ticket to a fifth consecutive national quarterfinal with a 5-1 victory over Stevens Institute of Technology in NCAA third round action at the Grande Meadows Tennis Club.
Ahead 2-1 after doubles play, the Jeffs (29-8) picked up wins at third, fifth and sixth singles to advance to the round of 8 which will be contested at Stowe Stadium in Kalamazoo, Mich. on May 20-22 along with the national semifinal and championship matches. Putting the wraps on its most successful season, Stevens closed out the year with a 17-8 overall mark after securing its first ever berth into the round of 16 with its first ever win over a top-25 opponent on Friday.
Jumping out to an early 5-1 lead, Amherst's Joey Fritz '14 and Justin Reindel '14 made quick work of Derek Smith '14 and Tyler Tisdale '16 at third doubles, cruising to an 8-2 decision. The Jeffs' Andrew Yaraghi '16 and Ben Fife '16 also raced to an early edge in the second slot, going up 4-0 on Ben Foran '16 and Shota Tasaki '13. Battling back, the Ducks closed the gap to 7-4, but with Amherst serving for match point, Tasaki sent a return volley long to seal Stevens' fate.
Finding themselves in a 5-2 hole to the ITA northeast region's fourth-ranked doubles pairing of Matthew Heinrich '16 and Chris Rosensteel '13, Amherst's Mark Kahan '13 and Michael Solimano '16 broke serve, winning four of the next six games to cut the deficit to 7-6. Down 30-40 with the Jeffs threatening to pull even, the Ducks staved off the comeback, winning three of the next four points to put Stevens on the board.
Reindel got Amherst back on track with a dominating 6-0, 6-0 victory over Tisdale at sixth singles to make it 3-1. Chris Dale '14 followed suit with a 6-2, 6-0 triumph over Smith at No. 5 to put the Ducks on the brink of elimination.
Blanking Tasaki, 6-0, in the first set of their third singles match, Yaraghi looked to clinch the win for the Purple & White, taking a commanding lead in the second. Breaking Tasaki's serve, the first-year forced his counterpart to send a return long on match point to close out a 6-1 win in the frame.
Kahan led Rosensteel, 6-2, 1-4 at second singles at the time of completion, while Heinrich took the first set from Fritz at the top of the order, 7-6 (8-1). Foran also earned a first set win at No. 4, downing Fife, 6-4.