Contact: Matthew Hart
KALAMAZOO, Mich. – Dropping a pair of tough doubles tiebreakers, the third-ranked Amherst College men's tennis team saw its hopes of an NCAA title dashed by top-ranked Claremont-Mudd-Scripps as the Stags claimed a 5-0 win over the Lord Jeffs in the national semifinals Tuesday at Stowe Stadium.
In a match that was much tighter than its final score, C-M-S (30-3) swept doubles by outlasting Amherst in tiebreakers and No. 1 and No. 2 then finished the clean sheet with wins at third and sixth singles. The Stags advance to Wednesday's 4 p.m. championship match, where they will meet the winner of the Williams-Washington (Mo.) semifinal. Amherst (30-9) will conclude its season against the loser in the third place match at 1:30 p.m.
The Stags grabbed a quick lead at third doubles when Alex Lane and Nikolas Marino raced past Joey Fritz '14 and Justin Reindel '14, 8-4. Meanwhile, No. 1s Mark Kahan '13 and Michael Solimano '16 quickly fell behind Joe Dorn and Zhenya Pereverzin, 4-1, but battled back, eventually breaking to send the match back on serve at 7-6 then holding to force the tiebreak. At second doubles, first-years Ben Fife and Andrew Yaraghi quickly rallied from a 2-0 deficit, pulling ahead of Skyler Butts and Neel Kotrappa 3-2 before the pairs held serve all the way to a tiebreaker.
With the two breakers occurring simultaneously and the match's momentum hanging in the balance, Yaraghi and Fife couldn't hang with the Stags, falling 9-8 (7-5). Meanwhile, Kahan and Solimano dropped behind early in the extra session but rallied, with a Solimano ace making it 6-5. Dorn and Pereverzin were too strong down the stretch, however, pulling out the 9-8 (8-6) win and giving C-M-S a commanding 3-0 match lead heading to singles.
Alex Lane put the Stags on the doorstep with a powerful showing at third singles as he downed Yaraghi 6-1, 6-1. With Amherst taking the first set at Nos. 1 and 4 and fives already in a third, C-M-S' hopes of a quick win rested on the second and sixth singles contests. With Kahan leading for Amherst early in the second set of No. 2s, it was Kotrappa who delivered the match for the Stags, finishing off Reindel at the bottom of the order, 6-3, 6-3.
Amherst was faring better in the four unfinished matches. At No. 1, Fritz had outlasted Dorn in the first set tiebreak, 7-6 (7-4), and the two were knotted 2-2 in the second. Kahan had dropped the opener of second singles to Marino, 6-4, but led 2-1 in the second, while Fife was looking strong against Butts at No. 3, leading 5-3 in the second after dominating the first set, 6-0. Finally, Dale recovered from a 6-2 loss to Alex Johnson to split with a 6-1 win, but trailed 3-2 in the third at the match's conclusion.