2007-08 Season Preview
Amherst began the 2006-07 season with a strong 8-1 record, stringing together a pair of four-match win streaks with a loss to Bowdoin College sandwiched in between. Included in the wins was the Jeffs’ only match of the fall season, an 8-1 victory over Salve Regina, as well as an impressive 4-3 win at the University of Connecticut. Amherst earned the No. 5 seed in the NESCAC Tournament, avenging a regular-season 6-3 loss to Trinity College by defeating the fourth-seeded Bantams in the opening round. The Jeffs fell to top-seeded Middlebury College in the semifinals, but still earned a berth in the NCAA tournament. After moving past the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the opening round, Amherst was paired up with Middlebury for the third time of 2007. The Panthers once again came out on top, as the Jeffs ended their season with a 14-6 (3-2 NESCAC) record.
The Jeffs lose a pair of seniors to graduation: Jeff Lawrence and Karti Subramanian. Lawrence finished his senior campaign with a 2-1 record in doubles play and a 6-3 mark in singles, playing as high as the No. 2 slot in both. Subramanian spent most of his time in the No. 3 doubles spot, but played as high as No. 1 for Amherst, finishing with a 10-10 overall mark. He dominated singles play in the No. 5 slot, finishing his senior campaign at 14-3.
Amherst is fortunate to return its top four singles players in Zack Lerner, Mike Mintz, Geoff Schwartz and Jeff Wan, respectively. As a sophomore last year, Lerner earned the ITA National Player to Watch Award, which goes to a player who has an outstanding season, not yet won an ITA national singles title, and is expected to perform at a high level the rest of his or her career. Lerner posted an impressive 15-2 record in singles play before picking up another pair of wins in the NCAA singles tournament. His outstanding 2006-07 season earned him the No. 7 ITA National Singles Ranking, and the No.1 Northeast Regional ranking. Lerner teamed up with Tal Avrahami to post a 10-6 record as Amherst’s top doubles pair, as the two earned a spot in the NCAA doubles tournament.Avrahami is one of four seniors expected to contribute significantly this year. Mintz earned four victories in both singles and doubles play last year, while Schwartz finished at an even 9-9 in doubles action and 7-8 in singles matches. Wan was dominant in singles action, finishing last year with a 13-3 mark, while also serving as one of the team’s best doubles players, winning 10 of 15 matches.
Every member of last year’s rookie class played in at least two matches, with Tristan Biesecker leading the way by finishing with a 5-2 record in doubles matches and 4-2 mark in singles play. Daniel Kim also made a good first impression, finishing at 3-2 in singles action and a perfect 2-0 in doubles. Other sophomores likely to share time in the No. 5 and No. 6 singles spots are Dan Gonzalez, Scott London, Alex Kaufman and Ben Krause.
NewcomersAmherst welcomes a trio of first-years to the team: Tony Sheng (Aurora, IL), Sean Doerfler (Douglaston, NY) and Moritz Koenig (Hamburg, Germany). The Jeffs also welcome new head coach Chris Garner, who most recently spent time as the assistant men’s tennis coach at Ohio State University. Garner was instrumental in the Buckeyes’ No. 3 national year-end ranking in 2006, going undefeated in conference play and winning the Big-Ten tournament. As a player, Garner won 12 National Junior titles before playing at the University of Georgia, where he received All-America honors in 1988. His professional career included a trip to the Round of 16 at the Australian Open in 1993, as well as victories over former greats such as Pat Rafter, Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Pat McEnroe.
With the top four singles players and top doubles pair returning this year, as well as an experienced coach and former professional player at the helm, Amherst should be a prime contender for this year’s NESCAC crown, and could possibly do some damage in the NCAA tournament.