AMHERST, Mass. – The #7 ranked Amherst College men's tennis team staved off defeat over and over again on Sunday afternoon, coming back from a 4-0 deficit to shock visiting Bowdoin College 5-4 in New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) action at Amherst Tennis Center.
Harris Foulkes '22 came from one set down to win in a tiebreak at fifth singles in the clinching match, as the entirety of both teams watched. The Amherst players mobbed Foulkes when he completed the 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) victory over Justin Patel to help the Mammoths claim their first win over the Polar Bears since 2015.
Both teams came into the day undefeated in NESCAC play. Amherst (12-2) improves to 4-0 in the NESCAC and snaps Bowdoin's eight-game winning streak, sending the 2018 NESCAC champions and NCAA Runners-Up to 12-2 and 4-1 in conference play.
Bowdoin took a commanding lead with three doubles wins, then extended the lead to 4-0 with a 6-2, 6-2 win by Jerry Jiang at #2 singles.
With zero margin for error, Amherst began to claw back into the match at #1 singles, when Sean Wei '21 closed out a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Grant Urken shortly after teammate Kevin Ma '21 fell to Jiang.
Zach Bessette '19 outlasted Justin Wang in a second set tiebreak at the fourth spot, and William Turchetta topped Evan Fortier 6-3, 6-2 at #6 singles as Amherst pulled to within two points, but Jayson Fung '20 was in a tight match at third singles and Foulkes had dropped the first set to Patel.
Fung held on to defeat Oscar Yang, a top-fifty singles player in the country, with a 7-5 tiebreak win in the second set (6-3, 7-6) to tie the match at four, leaving Foulkes, who led the third set of his match with Patel 4-3, then trailed 5-4 and 6-5 before forcing a tiebreak.
Foulkes led by two points several times early in the tiebreak, and Patel never led despite coming back to tie the competition at four points apiece. Foulkes won the final three points to claim the victory for Amherst, their seventh straight.
Amherst is home again for their next two matches, beginning on Wednesday at 3:30 PM when they entertain Bates.
Bowdoin must prepare for a rematch of last year's NESCAC and NCAA championship game when they host #8 Middlebury next Saturday at 2:00 PM.