CLAREMONT, Calif. – Amherst earned a 5-1 win against Williams on Wednesday afternoon to claim a spot in the NCAA Division III Championship final for the third time in as many years. The Lord Jeffs will take on top-ranked Emory on Thursday afternoon in an attempt to bring home the program’s first national championship.
The second-ranked Lord Jeffs improved to 35-1 and increased their winning streak to 18 matches, while the eighth-ranked Ephs dropped to 17-8 and will take on Washington U. in St. Louis in the consolation match. Amherst is 8-1 against Williams in the past nine meetings and has now stopped the Ephs’ title run in back-to-back years.
Amherst’s doubles teams needed to play from behind during Tuesday’s quarterfinal win against Trinity, but the Lord Jeffs came out gunning on Wednesday. The top pair of Austin Chafetz and Luis Rattenhuber jumped out to a 4-1 lead and held on for an 8-4 victory, while Moritz Koenig and Wes Waterman had the same result at No. 2.
The Jeffs entered the semifinals with a 15-0 doubles record in the 2011 postseason, but the Ephs put an end to the impressive streak when Will Petrie and Kevin Shallcross took a 4-3 lead and pulled away for an 8-4 win against Mark Kahan and Chris Dale at No. 3. In addition to the result marking Amherst’s first doubles loss since April 30, it was the first time Dale had dropped a doubles match all spring (13-1).
Although the Ephs found a way to slow down Amherst’s doubles onslaught, they could not figure out a solution for Kahan in singles play. The Lord Jeff sophomore entered the semifinals with a 16-match win streak, and he kept it going with a 6-4, 6-1 win against Matt Micheli to give Amherst a 3-1 lead. Rattenhuber then brought Amherst within one point of clinching the match when he defeated Felix Sun by a score of 6-2, 6-2 in the top spot.
After earning 6-3 win against Trey Meyer in the first set at No. 3, Chafetz brought all eyes to his court when he broke his Eph counterpart to take a 5-1 lead in the second frame. The Amherst southpaw picked up a pair of quick aces and held on for the 6-3, 6-1 victory, securing his team’s third consecutive appearance in the NCAA final.
Amherst’s Waterman and Andrew Jung were leading their matches at Nos. 5 and 6, respectively, when play was stopped, while the Ephs’ Zach Weiss took the first set from Joey Fritz at the fourth spot.
The Jeffs will need to be at their best on Thursday if they want to take home the program’s first national title, as Emory (24-3) is coming off a 5-0 win against Washington U. in St. Louis and has been virtually untouchable this postseason. The Eagles are undefeated against Division III competition this year, with their last loss coming at the hands of Amherst in the 2010 national quarterfinals.
Emory head coach John Browning has led his team to the national quarterfinals in each of his 12 years at the helm, earning the NCAA title in 2003 and 2006. The Lord Jeffs will have their hands full with the singles contingent of Dillon Pottish, Chris Goodwin and Colin Egan, who are a combined 73-8 this spring and have not lost a singles contest to a Division III opponent.