15th-Ranked Amherst Returns Deep Lineup for 2008-09

2007-08 RECAP
After getting off to a 4-1 start, last year’s Lord Jeffs were victorious in only one of their next seven matches. Amherst rebounded by winning four of its next five to move over the .500 mark at 9-8, but a loss to Williams was followed by a pair of defeats at the CSA Championships. The Jeffs earned a 6-3 win over Franklin & Marshall to close out the season at 10-11, as they were able to avenge a 6-3 loss to F&M from earlier in the season at the Yale Invitational.

Amherst saw improvement throughout the year. In addition to avenging the loss to 16th-ranked F&M, the Jeffs’ 7-2 loss to Bowdoin in the NESCAC Championship opening round was followed by a narrow 5-4 loss to the Polar Bears at the CSA Championships. Similarly, after edging Middlebury 5-4 at the Yale Invitational, Amherst cruised to an 8-1 win over the Panthers in the NESCAC Championship second round. Highlights of the season also included a pair of tough 5-4 wins over 18th-ranked Tufts University, one of which came in come-from-behind fashion at the conference tournament.

The Jeffs lose three players to graduation in Doug Barnett, Mark Rapisarda and Andrew Slutsky. Rapisarda and Slutsky served as last year’s co-captains, playing the majority of their matches as the No. 1 and No. 4 players, respectively. After beginning the season by posting a 4-2 record as the team’s No. 2 player, Rapisarda was bumped to the top spot, where he posted a 6-8 record against some of the best players the nation to finish as the team’s leader in wins (10). Slutsky had similar results, as he went 6-8 in the fourth spot, adding a 1-1 mark as the No. 5 player and a 2-3 record at No. 3. During the 2007-08 season, the two captains were a combined 19-22.

Tom Rapisarda
Sophomore Tom Rapisarda will look to build on an impressive debut season.
This year’s senior class is highlighted by Drew Blacker, who began last season in the top spot before moving into the No. 2 position. The move proved to be a good one for Blacker, who posted a 5-3 record in his new spot in the lineup. With the departure of Rapisarda, however, Blacker will likely be called upon to return as the team’s No. 1 player. Co-captain Jerome Giovinazzo may share time at the top spot, as he was 3-3 at No. 3 and 5-2 at No. 2 one year ago for an impressive 8-5 record.

Joining Blacker and Giovinazzo as a key member of the senior class is co-captain Ben Bishop, who was 9-8 in individual play last year. Bishop posted a 2-3 record at No. 6 but spent most of his time in the No. 7 hole, where he went 7-5 during a promising junior season. Rounding out the senior class are Brad Corbin and David Glanton, who will each look to play a more significant role during their final seasons.

The junior class features just two players in Lee Banta and Nick Kramer. While Banta picked up six wins last year and played anywhere in the lineup from No. 6 to No. 9, Kramer won his lone match in the No. 8 spot before going 2-3 as the team’s No. 9 player.

Leading the Class of 2011 are Tom Rapisarda, Kevin Cecala and Saahil Sud, each of whom played a significant role on last year’s team. Tom Rapisarda went 3-0 in the No. 3 spot and won eight matches on the year, as he finished his debut season with an impressive 3-2 come-from-behind win as the No. 5 player against F&M at the CSA Team Championships. Cecala also won eight matches on the year, five of which came at No. 5, while Sud won four matches and spent the majority of his first year at No. 8. Looking to add depth during their sophomore campaigns will be Jacob Glass, who won his lone match of last year in the No. 9 spot, as well as Marcelo Cifuentes.

Head coach Peter Robson welcomes first-years Matt Arnold, Todd Lavine, Zach Porges and Stephen Severson to this year’s team, as well as assistant coach Whitney Kouvaris, who is fresh off her assistant coaching debut with the Amherst volleyball team. Also joining the coaching staff as a recent alum is former men's squash captain Piercarlo Valdesolo '03, who returns to campus as an assistant professor in the psychology department.

15th-ranked Amherst will host three dual matches before heading out for Winter Break, with a match at national powerhouse Trinity thrown in the mix for the Jeffs’ first road contest of the season. The return from interterm will not be easy, as Amherst faces the third-, eighth-, fifth-, 14th- and 11th-ranked teams to kick off the second leg of the season. After a Jan. 24 match at Hobart, the Jeffs will take part in the NESCAC and Little Three Championships on consecutive weekends before closing out the season at the CSA Team Championships at Princeton. With a year of competition at the collegiate level under its belt, the talented Class of 2011 will look to join a veteran group of seniors to make Amherst a much-improved team from a year ago.