CLAREMONT, Calif. -- For the second time in program history, fourth-ranked Amherst laid claim to the national championship, defeating top-ranked Claremont-M-S at the Biszantz Family Tennis Center 5-3.
Sewing up their second NCAA title, the Jeffs avenged a 6-3 loss to the Stags (30-2) earlier this season and closed out the year with a 36-3 overall mark. Defeating the nation’s top-ranked player, Joey Fritz clinched the match with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 first singles victory against Warren Wood. Trailing after doubles play for the second consecutive day, Amherst took four of the first five singles wins, locking up its first championship since a 2011 title tilt victory against Emory (5-2), also in Claremont.Jumping out to an early lead, Wood and Joe Dorn built a 6-3 cushion against Fritz and Justin Reindel at first doubles. On the No. 2 court, Skyler Butts and Neel Kotrappa held a 5-2 advantage against Aaron Revzin and Andrew Yaraghi, while Chris Dale and Michael Solimano were on top of Nikolas Marino and Zhenya Pereverzin 5-4.
Notching the match’s first point, Wood and Dorn eventually downed Fritz and Reindel 8-4 making up for an 8-6 loss to the ITA Northeast Region’s top-ranked duo on Mar. 21. Going up 7-5, Dale and Solimano quickly evened things up by securing an 8-6 decision against Marino and Pereverzin. Coming right back, Butts and Kotrappa pulled the home team back in front with an 8-4 triumph.
Needing to win four of the six remaining points, Fritz emerged victorious in his first set against Wood 6-2. Dale dropped a closely contested 7-6 (7-3) first frame to Dorn at No. 2, while Solimano downed Marino in the first set of third singles 6-2. Zykov recorded a hard-fought 7-6 (8-6) victory against Butts in the first set at fourth singles, while Reindel went up 1-0 with a 6-3 win against Glenn Hull at the bottom of the order.
Pulling Amherst even, Solimano ousted Marino in the second set 7-6 (7-5). Taking the first frame against Pereverzin 6-1 Yaraghi gave the Jeffs their first lead with a 7-5 victory the following frame. Helping CMS keep pace, Dorn put away Dale at No. 2 with a 6-2 triumph in the second. With Zykov and Reindel both ahead in the second set of their matches at No. 4 and No. 6, it was Reindel that inched Amherst closer to victory by dispatching of Hull 6-4.
With eyes turned to first singles, Fritz went up 5-2 in the third with Zykov and Butts knotted at 6-6 at No. 4. Ahead 30-15, Fritz got to championship point on a Wood backhand that landed wide. Momentarily staving off elimination, Wood made it 40-30, before charging the net and winning another point to pull even. Moments later however, consecutive Wood errors sealed the Stags’ fate with Fritz holding onto a 6-2 victory.
Fritz will compete in Thursday's individual singles tournament as the No. 2 seed, while teaming up with Reindel in the individual doubles bracket.