May 10, 2009

Courtesy of Amherst Athletics

AMHERST, MA - The 6th-ranked Amherst College men's tennis team rallied against No. 13 Johns Hopkins University this afternoon to emerge with a rare 6-3 win in the NCAA National Championship Tournament's Third Round. The Lord Jeffs fell behind 2-1 after doubles play, before rallying to sit tied at 3-3 midway through singles action. After taking a 4-3 lead, Amherst sophomore Priit Gross (Tartu, Estonia) and senior Zack Lerner (Scarsdale, NY) each completed three-set comeback wins at the same time to give the Jeffs the 6-3 victory.

In doubles play, Lerner and teammate Moritz Koenig (Hamburg, Germany) fell behind the Blue Jays pair of David Maldow and Andrew Wang early on. The top Hopkins pair held a 7-1 lead over the Lord Jeff ones, before Lerner and Koenig rallied to win four straight games. Despite the effort, the first team point of the day went to Johns Hopkins with an 8-5 win at number one doubles. The second and third doubles matches went to tiebreakers, with the Hopkins team of Jacob Barnaby and Casey Blythe edging Amherst's Austin Chafetz (Rancho Palos Verdes, CA) and Gross at number two with a 9-8 (7-5) result. In the final doubles match, Amherst's Andrew Jung (Battle Creek, MI) paired with Wes Waterman (Palm Beach Gardens, FL) to win 9-8 (7-4) and keep Amherst in the match.

Early in singles play, Amherst evened the score as Chafetz topped Wang in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2 at number two. The Lord Jeffs took their first lead of the match in the team scoring, as Jung topped Warren Elgort 6-3, 6-3 at number three, only to see the Blue Jays tie the match 3-3 with a 7-6 (7-2), 6-3 win by Barnaby over Koenig at number four.

With the match deadlocked and singles bouts one, five and six heading for third sets, whichever team could win two of the final three points would advance to the National Quarterfinals. Waterman gave Amherst promise as he jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the third set, while Lerner trailed Maldow 2-0 at number one, and Gross trailed Blyth 3-0 at number five. Lerner was able to use a pair of service breaks to turn the table on Maldow and take a 3-2 lead, while Gross battled back to tie his match at 4-4.

The Waterman-Peter Vale battle was the first of the three-set matches to finish, as the Lord Jeff rookie emerged with a 6-7 (8-6), 6-1, 6-2 win to put Amherst in position for the victory. With dozens of fans roaming between the close matches on courts one and five, Amherst closed in on wins on both courts. Just seconds apart, Lerner and Gross started rallies for match point, with Gross earning his win just as Lerner put away his final point.

The nearly simultaneous finishes ensured that Amherst will be one of just a few teams all-time to register six points in an NCAA Tournament match, as play is halted when the five points for a decision are earned, but more importantly keeps the Lord Jeffs' season going. Amherst advances to the National Quarterfinals for the first time in program history, where the Jeffs will face NESCAC rival Middlebury College next weekend in Claremont, CA.

Results Amherst 6 : Johns Hopkins 3

1) Maldow/Wang (J) def. Lerner/Koenig (A) 8-5
2) Barnaby/Blythe (J) def. Chafetz/Gross (A) 9-8 (7-5)
3) Jung/Waterman (A) def. Rauck/Elgort (J) 9-8 (7-4)

1) Zack Lerner (A) def. David Maldow (J) 4-6, 6-4, 7-5
2) Austin Chafetz (A) def. Andrew Wang (J) 6-3, 6-2
3) Andrew Jung (A) def. Warren Elgort (J) 6-3, 6-3
4) Jacob Barnaby (J) def. Moritz Koenig (A) 7-6 (7-2), 6-3
5) Priit Gross (A) def. Casey Blythe (J) 4-6, 6-3, 6-3
6) Wes Waterman (A) def. Peter Vale (J) 6-7 (8-6), 6-1, 6-2