Contact: Ben Badua
AMHERST, Mass. - Despite falling to archrival Williams in last weekend's NESCAC championship, the Amherst men's tennis team secured its fifth consecutive (15th overall) berth to the NCAA Tournament field of 44, earning a first round bye as one of eight regional site hosts.
Ranked third in the latest ITA poll, Amherst boasts a 27-8 overall record, having won 14-straight matches before its loss to the Ephs. Squaring off in first round action will be TCNJ and Babson along with Stevens and Baruch. The winner of TCNJ/Babson will face Amherst, while the winner of Stevens/Baruch takes on Mary Washington. The second round winners then meet in the weekend finale with a trip to the national quarterfinals at stake.
Seedings for the individual singles and doubles tournaments will be announced on Wednesday, May 8. Check back later for a full preview of the opening rounds.
NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY
Making its fifth consecutive NCAA appearance, Amherst has posted a 24-13 overall mark in 14 prior trips to the national tournament. Last season, the Jeffs received a first round bye before piecing together a run to the national quarterfinals. Finishing as the national runner-up in 2009 and 2010, Amherst finally broke through in 2011, winning the program's first NCAA championship.
LAST TIME OUT
Edging out a 5-4 win over Williams in a regular season match-up on Apr. 14, Amherst once again squared off with the Ephs, this time with a conference title on the line. Down 2-1 after doubles play, Amherst knotted things up on junior Justin Reindel's 6-4, 6-3 win over Dylan Page at sixth singles. First-year Andrew Yaraghi then ousted Felix Sun, 6-3, 6-3 in the third slot to momentarily give the Jeffs the lead, but Trey Meyer soon dispatched of Joey Fritz '14 at the top of the order (6-4, 6-3) to pull the Ephs even. Ben Fife '16 put Amherst back on top with a 6-4, 7-5 victory over Zach Weiss at fourth singles, but Chris Dale '14 could not hold onto a second set tiebreak with Bryan Chow at No. 5, eventually falling in three sets.
Match Schedule (all outdoor matches @ Amherst Courts)
Thursday, May 9
TCNJ/Babson – 11 a.m. (outside); 11 a.m. (inside @ Grande Meadows, Longmeadow, MA)
Stevens/Baruch - 11 a.m. (outside); after first match (inside @ Grande Meadows, Longmeadow, MA)
Friday, May 10
Amherst/Match 1 winner – 9 a.m. (outside); 9 a.m. (inside @ Grande Meadows, Longmeadow, MA)
Mary Washington/Match 2 winner – 9 a.m. (outside); 9 a.m. (inside @ Windsor, Conn.)
Saturday, May 11
Third round: 9 a.m. (outside); 9 a.m. (inside @ Grande Meadows, Longmeadow, MA)
SCOUTING AMHERST (27-8)
Suffering just its first loss in 14 outings, the third-ranked Amherst men's tennis teams saw its hopes for a third consecutive NESCAC championship slip away with a 5-4 loss to archrival Williams. Seeing his six match win streak snapped, Joey Fritz '14 fell to 9-3 at first singles with a loss to the Ephs' Trey Meyer. Teaming up with Justin Reindel '14 at third doubles, the duo picked up a pair of wins during the conference tournament, running their record as a tandem to 4-1. Also securing a couple of victories at sixth singles, Reindel improved to 13-2 on the year.
Dropping his first singles match in nine tries with a loss in the second slot against Williams, Mark Kahan '13 fell to 14-5 in 2012-13, while Andrew Yaraghi '16 continued his stellar season, earning a 6-3, 6-3 victory at No. 3 against the Ephs to improve to 18-4. Also having a solid weekend, Ben Fife '16 helped shore up the bottom of the singles order by picking up two wins to move to 8-6 this spring. Chris Dale '14 saw action at fourth singles at the conference championship, dropping a three-set thriller in the championship game to fall to 10-3 overall.
Teaming up with Yaraghi at the top of the doubles lineup, Dale helped Amherst split its two matches at No. 1, with the duo improving to 4-2. Playing second doubles at NESCACs, Kahan and Michael Solimano '16finished 1-1 to move to 5-3 as a pairing.
SCOUTING THE FIELD
Picking up the sub-regional's other first round bye; No. 22 Mary Washington (14-11) won three of its last four down the stretch, only falling to No. 21 Washington & Lee, 5-4. Winning the CAC Championship against Salisbury (8-1), the Eagles feature a pair of veterans at the top of the singles lineup in Tyler Carey '15 and Alex Blakhin '14. Carey boasts a 9-7 record at first singles, while Blakhin has seen the majority of his time in the second slot. Teaming up with Kaleb Nguyen '15, Carey is 8-8 at second doubles, while Evan Charles '15 and Donato Rizzolo '15 racked up a 10-6 mark at first doubles.
Carrying a 15-7 record into the NCAA Tournament, Stevens swept its third straight Empire 8 regular season en route to an unprecedented fourth consecutive league title. With all seven of its losses coming to teams ranked in the top-27, the Ducks notched their first ever victory over a top-30 opponent (TCNJ, Apr. 24), while climbing to its highest ever ranking in the ITA Northeast Region (No. 8). The region's fourth-ranked doubles tandem,Matthew Heinrich '16 and Chris Rosensteel '16 are 18-3 in 2012-13. Also two of the region's best singles players, Heinrich is 18-3 in his rookie season, while Rosensteel sports a 15-6 record.
Winners of seven in a row, Baruch (13-4) will look to keep it rolling against Stevens with a second round showdown with Mary Washington on the line. The Bearcats defeated CSI (5-1) in the CUNYAC Championship to earn the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Danil Ovechkin '14 is 6-6 at first singles, while Artem Gorbachevskiy '13 has won seven of 11 appearances in the second slot. Along with Guy Goren '13, Ovechkin is 7-2 at first doubles, while Gorbachevskiy and Joe Laskowski '15 are 7-1 at No. 2.
Suffering only one setback this season, TCNJ will make its seventh straight championship appearance thanks to an at large berth. Leading the Lions, Marc Nichols '13 has enjoyed a solid year at first singles (9-5), while fellow senior TJ Riley has compiled a 12-2 record in the second spot. Also making an impact in doubles play, Nichols and Howard Telson '14 are 13-2 at No. 1, while Billy Buchbinder '16 and Jordan Cruz '13 are 7-2 at No. 2.
Making its first NCAA tournament appearance since 1997, Babson (11-8) garnered an at large bid out of Pool B as an institution playing in a conference without an at-large bid. Winning five straight during a two-week stretch in April, the Beavers lost two of their last three, including a 5-1 decision to MIT in the NEWMAC finals. Relying on a pair of youngsters at the top, Roberto Perez '16 and Victor Vu '16 are a combined 15-13 at first and second singles. Together the first-years are 8-2 at second doubles, whileConnor DeFiore '15 and Ramone Doyley '15 enter the championship with a 6-9 mark at first doubles.