Amherst Defeats Middlebury to Earn Program's First Trip to National Semifinals
Amherst defeated Middlebury for the first time since 2001 to earn a trip to its first-ever national semifinal round.
Amherst (27-6) appeared in the national quarterfinals in 1996 and 1997 but failed to advance to the semifinals each time. Wednesday’s semifinal match between Amherst and Washington will feature live scoring and radio play-by-play. Fans unable to attend the match can visit the Amherst Championship Website for more information.
The Lord Jeffs entered the week 0-3 against Middlebury (21-3) all-time in NCAA Championship play and had lost 15 straight matches to the Panthers dating back to 2001, including a pair of thrilling results earlier this season.
Those familiar with NESCAC men’s tennis assumed the Jeffs and Panthers were in for another 5-4 marathon match, but Amherst stormed out of the gates to take a 3-0 lead after doubles play. First-year Wes Waterman (Palm Beach Gardens, FL) made it 4-0 with a win in the #6 singles match, and NESCAC Rookie of the Year Austin Chafetz (Rancho Palos Verdes, CA) sealed the victory with a win at #2.
Each of Amherst’s doubles pairs was 1-1 against its Middlebury counterpart this season, but the Lord Jeffs were able to take the season series in all three matches. Amherst senior captain Zack Lerner (Scarsdale, NY) and sophomore Moritz Koenig (Hamburg, Germany) demonstrated why they make up the top-ranked pair in the Northeast by earning an 8-4 win over David Farah and Andrew Thomson, the region’s fourth-ranked pair.
Even more impressive were Chafetz and sophomore Priit Gross (Tartu, Estonia), who teamed up for an 8-2 win over Andrew Lee and Rich Bonfiglio in the #2 match. Completing the sweep for Amherst were Waterman and first-year Andrew Jung (Battle Creek, MI), whose 8-5 victory over Conrad Olson and Andy Peters gave the Lord Jeffs a convincing 3-0 lead heading into singles action.
Waterman made quick work of Eliot Jia, earning a 6-2, 6-0 win to make it 4-0 in favor of Amherst. Chafetz defeated Thomson in his first set, 6-4, and was on track to wrap things up quickly as he led 5-4 in the second set, but Thomson won the next three games to send the #2 match into a third set. Other matches approached their finishes, but Chafetz battled back with a 6-1 third-set win to send Amherst into the semifinals.
Lerner held a 6-3, [3-6], 3-0 lead over Olson in the top singles match when play was suspended, as the two NESCAC Co-Player of the Year honorees were involved in yet another great battle as the Northeast’s top two players. Also approaching the end of his match was Koenig at #4, who dropped his first set to Peters and won the second before ending in a 5-5 tie when the match was called.
Lee earned a 7-5 first-set win over Jung in the #3 matchup, but the Amherst first-year was in the midst of attempting a comeback as he held a 3-1 lead in the second set when play was stopped. Middlebury's lone point came in the #5 match, where Peter Odell earned a 6-3, 7-6 win over Gross.
Washington University advanced to the semifinals with a 5-3 win over Gustavus Adolphus College. On the other side of the bracket, Emory is taking on Kenyon and Williams is facing UC Santa Cruz in Tuesday’s later matches.
Amherst (27-6) def. Middlebury (21-3), 5-1
(NCAA Championship Quarterfinals)
1. Zack Lerner/Moritz Koenig (A) def. David Farah/Andrew Thomson (M), 8-4
2. Priit Gross/Austin Chafetz (A) def. Andrew Lee/Rich Bonfiglio (M), 8-2
3. Wes Waterman/Andrew Jung (A) def. Conrad Olson/Andy Peters (M), 8-5
1. Zack Lerner (A) leads Conrad Olson (M) 6-3, [3-6], 3-0
2. Austin Chafetz (A) def. Andrew Thomson (M) 6-4, [5-7], 6-1
3. Andrew Lee (M) leads Andrew Jung (A) 7-5, 1-3
4. Moritz Koenig (A) even with Andy Peters (M) [2-6], 6-1, 5-5
5. Peter Odell (M) def. Priit Gross (A) 6-3, 7-6
6. Wes Waterman (A) def. Eliot Jia (M) 6-2, 6-0