Middlebury Stops Amherst in NCAA Finals, 5-1

Team Picture
Amherst finished its incredible 2009-10 season with a 27-11 record and a second consecutive runner-up finish in the NCAA Championships.

OBERLIN, OH – The Amherst College men’s tennis team’s incredible season came to a close with a 5-1 loss to top-ranked Middlebury College Thursday afternoon in the NCAA Division III Championship finals at Oberlin College. The Lord Jeffs finish at 27-11, just shy of the program record for wins in a season (28).

Amherst ended Middlebury’s 2008-09 season with a 5-1 result in the national quarterfinal round, but the Panthers (23-2) would return the favor to claim their second NCAA title in program history. Middlebury won two of Thursday’s three doubles matches and made quick work of Amherst in singles play.

Thursday’s championship marked the second all-NESCAC title match, as Middlebury defeated Williams for the 2004 crown. The Panthers are 17-1 against Amherst dating back to 2001 and are now 27-9 all-time in NCAA Tournament play. Middlebury’s 23 wins mark a new program record.

Amherst’s miraculous march into the finals included wins over 12th-ranked Williams, second-ranked Emory and third-ranked Claremont, but the Jeffs ran into a much more experienced Middlebury team that had the ingredients for a national title. While the Panthers featured six seniors and one junior in their lineups, the young Amherst squad responded with three juniors, three sophomores and a first-year.

Amherst’s No. 2 doubles team of Moritz Koenig ’11 (Hamburg, Germany) and Mark Kahan ’13 (Unionville, CT) was the only pair to pick up a point against Middlebury in the regular season meeting, but they would suffer an 8-3 setback to Conrad Olson and Eliot Jia on Thursday as the first group to finish.

The Lord Jeffs turned a lot of heads in this year's NCAA Tournament.

The Jeffs’ top pair of Austin Chafetz ’12 (Rancho Palos Verdes, CA) and Robby Sorrel ’12 (Scarsdale, NY) also never led on Thursday, as Andrew Lee and Andrew Thomson jumped out to a 4-0 lead and never looked back. Chafetz and Sorrel rallied from a 7-2 deficit to make it a 7-5 match, but the Panthers would win the next game to take a 2-0 lead.

Accounting for Amherst’s only point on the day was the duo of Wes Waterman ’12 (Palm Beach Gardens, FL) and Sean Doerfler ’11 (Douglaston, NY) at No. 3. The Jeffs dropped the first game but would take the next three and never relinquish the lead, holding on for the 8-4 win to make it a 2-1 match heading into singles action.

Thursday’s title bout lacked the drama from Amherst’s quarterfinal and semifinal rounds, as Middlebury won three singles matches in straight sets and held convincing leads in two others. After Thomson earned a 6-3, 6-0 win over Waterman at No. 4, Lee and Olson finished at nearly the same time to clinch the victory. Lee got past Kahan on court two with a 6-1, 6-3 result, while Olson knocked off Koenig at No. 3 with a pair of 6-2 sets.

In the fifth singles match Jia beat Doerfler in the first set, 6-2, and held a 4-1 lead in the second when play was stopped. Odell also won his first set and was leading his second, playing against Amherst’s Priit Gross ’11 (Tartu, Estonia) at No. 6.

The top singles match was the only one that saw a third set. After Chafetz breezed past Peters in the first set, 6-1, Peters returned the favor by winning the second set by the same score. When the match ended, Chafetz held a 2-1 lead in the third set.  

Chafetz will now join Kahan in the national singles tournament before teaming up with Sorrel in doubles competition, with opening rounds beginning Friday, May 28. Chafetz was eliminated in the singles Round of 32 last year, just one day after the Jeffs competed in the national title match.

Pairings for the individual tournaments will be announced tonight. All singles and doubles matches will feature live score updates. Follow Chafetz, Sorrel and Kahan throughout the weekend with the Amherst Championship Website.

NCAA#1 Middlebury College def. #5 Amherst College, 5-1
NCAA Division III Championship Finals (@ Oberlin College)
1. Andrew Lee/Andrew Thomson (M) def. Austin Chafetz/Robby Sorrel (A) 8-5 (2nd)
2. Conrad Olson/Eliot Jia (M) def. Mark Kahan/Moritz Koenig (A) 8-3 (1st)
3. Sean Doerfler/Wes Waterman (A) def. Chris Mason/Andrew Peters (M) 8-4 (3rd)

1. Austin Chafetz (A) leads Andrew Peters (M) 6-1, [1-6], 2-1 (DNF)
2. Andrew Lee (M) def. Mark Kahan (A) 6-1, 6-3 (2nd)
3. Conrad Olson (M) def. Moritz Koenig (A) 6-2, 6-2 (3rd)
4. Andrew Thomson (M) def. Wes Waterman (A) 6-3, 6-0 (1st)
5. Eliot Jia (M) leads Sean Doerfler (A) 6-2, 4-1 (DNF)
6. Peter Odell (M) leads Priit Gross (A) 6-3, 2-1 (DNF)