May 22, 2009

Courtesy of Amherst Athletics

CLAREMONT, Calif. – The Amherst College men’s tennis team had its season come to an end Thursday afternoon with a 5-0 loss to UC Santa Cruz in the NCAA Division III Championship finals at the Biszantz Family Tennis Center in Claremont, California.

While Amherst (28-7) was making its first ever appearance in the national title match, Santa Cruz (18-7) claimed its seventh NCAA title and its third this decade. In the consolation match, second-ranked Emory (20-4) handed top-ranked Washington (22-4) a 5-3 loss.

Amherst had been making an impressive run through the tournament, having upset fifth-ranked Middlebury in the quarterfinals before putting a halt to top-ranked Washington’s 19-match win streak in the semifinals. The Lord Jeffs could not find an answer for the experienced Banana Slugs, who for the second time in as many days swept the doubles matches en route to victory.

The Jeffs won a program-best 28 matches with an incredibly young team, as the team’s singles and doubles lineups throughout the NCAA Championships consisted of three first-years, two sophomores and a senior. Thursday’s loss marked the final dual match for senior captain Zack Lerner (Scarsdale, NY), who will begin his quest for a singles and doubles title Friday morning.

Each of the doubles matches were competitive, but the Banana Slugs took care of the Jeffs in order. Putting their team on the board were Max Liberty-Point and Ilya Gendelman, who defeated Lerner and sophomore Moritz Koenig (Hamburg, Germany) in the #1 match, 8-6. Jared Kamel and Mark Vartabedian followed with an 8-5 win over sophomore Priit Gross (Tartu, Estonia) and first-year Austin Chafetz (Rancho Palos Verdes, CA) to make it 2-0, and Max Ortiz teamed up with Colin Mark-Griffin to complete the clean sweep with an 8-6 victory over first-years Andrew Jung (Battle Creek, MI) and Wes Waterman (Palm Beach Gardens, FL).

Mark-Griffin gave Santa Cruz a 4-0 lead when he finished off Gross in the #5 singles match with a 6-4, 6-2 result, and Liberty-Point secured his team’s title with a 6-3, 7-6 win over Lerner in the top matchup. When play was suspended, Chafetz, Jung, Koenig and Waterman were each trailing but still hanging on in their respective matches.

Lerner’s quest for a singles title begins Friday at noon (EST) when he takes on Andrew Wang of Johns Hopkins University. Chafetz will also square off with a Johns Hopkins player at noon (EST) when he faces David Maldow in the Round of 32. Should either Lerner or Chafetz advance, the Round of 16 will begin at 4 p.m. (EST).

In doubles action, Lerner and Koenig will take on a team from Redlands at 6 p.m. (EST) in the Round of 16. For more information and a complete schedule of events, visit the Amherst Championship Website.

#3 UC Santa Cruz (18-7) def. #6 Amherst College (28-7), 5-0

(NCAA Division III Men’s Tennis Championship Finals)

1. Max Liberty-Point/Ilya Gendelman (UC) def. Zack Lerner/Moritz Koenig (A), 8-6
2. Jared Kamel/Mark Vartabedian (UC) def. Priit Gross/Austin Chafetz (A), 8-5
3. Max Ortiz/Colin Mark-Griffin (UC) def. Andrew Jung/Wes Waterman (A), 8-6

1. Max Liberty-Point (UC) def. Zack Lerner (A) 6-3, 7-6
2. Jared Kamel (UC) leads Austin Chafetz (A) 7-6, 4-2 (DNF)
3. Max Ortiz (UC) leads Andrew Jung (A) 6-2, [2-6], 2-1 (DNF)
4. Ilya Gendelman (UC) leads Moritz Koenig (A) 7-6, 4-4 (DNF)
5. Colin Mark-Griffin (UC) def. Priit Gross (A) 6-4, 6-2
6. Mark Vartabedian (UC) leads Wes Waterman (A) 6-2, 6-5 (DNF)