Lord Jeffs Set for Rematch in NCAA Quarterfinals

NCAA LogoContact: Justin Long

AMHERST, MA – The Amherst College men’s tennis team has headed west to continue its run in the NCAA Division III Championship. The Lord Jeffs will resume their title quest when they take on Trinity University on Tuesday, May 24, in the national quarterfinals.

The final three rounds of the tournament will be hosted by Claremont-McKenna-Scripps and will take place Tuesday-Thursday, May 24-26, at the Biszantz Family Tennis Center and Pauley Tennis Complex in Claremont, Calif. Tuesday’s match between Amherst and Trinity will begin at 9 p.m. (EST) with live results available.

Tuesday’s winner will advance to play either Williams or Claremont Wednesday at 6 p.m. (EST) in the national semifinals. Tuesday will also feature Middlebury taking on Emory, with that winner advancing to face either Washington-St. Louis or Kenyon. Thursday’s finals and consolation match will begin at 5 p.m. (EST).

Amherst (33-1) had little room for improvement after finishing as the national runner-up in 2009 and 2010, but the Lord Jeffs have taken their success to new heights in 2011. Carrying a 16-match win streak into the quarterfinals, Amherst is ranked No. 2 in Division III and has been in cruise control for the past two months. After closing out the regular season by upsetting defending national champion Middlebury, the Jeffs earned their first-ever NESCAC title with shutout wins over Bowdoin and Williams, followed by 5-0 victories over Roger Williams and TCNJ in the NCAA Regional Championship.

Trinity (16-12), meanwhile, is in the midst of a five-match win streak and is 9-1 in its past 10 contests. After winning their 16th Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Championship, the Tigers headed to St. Peter, Minn., and defeated NCAA regional host Gustavus Adolphus College, 5-3, followed by a 5-2 win over Chicago in the regional finals. This is Trinity’s 14th quarterfinal appearance and the second in as many years, having suffered a 5-2 loss to Claremont in the 2010 Round of Eight.

The quarterfinals will be a rematch of the Mar. 15 regular-season meeting that saw Amherst pick up a 7-2 win over Trinity in Claremont. The Lord Jeffs are 5-1 against the quarterfinal field this season, having defeated Trinity, Kenyon and Middlebury once, in addition to winning two against Williams. Amherst’s lone loss of the year came back on Mar. 19 to Claremont, but the Jeffs are 16-0 since. The Tigers are 0-3 against the field, suffering losses to Amherst, Claremont and Washington-St. Louis.

Should the 11th-ranked Tigers wish to pull off the upset on Tuesday, they will need to find a solution for Amherst’s dominant doubles play. Bobby Cocanougher ’11 and Cory Kowal ’11 advanced to last year’s championship match in the NCAA Doubles Tournament, but they were dealt an 8-1 loss when they met up with Amherst’s Luis Rattenhuber ’13 and Austin Chafetz ’12 this past March. Cocanougher and Kowal are 18-8 on the year and have won eight straight, while Chafetz and Rattenhuber are 5-0 since resuming their role as the Lord Jeffs’ top pair.

Trinity’s Max Frey ’12 and Erick DelaFuente ’13 earned a 9-8(4) win over Moritz Koenig ’11 and Wes Waterman ’12 back in March, and the rematch should prove to be another nail biter. Frey and DelaFuente are 20-6 on the season, while Koenig and Waterman have won each of their past five at number two. The Tigers’ number three duo of Ben Carroll ’12 and Don Murray ’11 will see a new opponent in Mark Kahan ’13 and Chris Dale ’14, who are 4-0 for the Lord Jeffs in the number three spot. Amherst has posted a 20-1 doubles mark in its past seven matches, including a 12-0 record this postseason.  

The top half of Amherst’s singles ladder has been virtually unstoppable as of late. Rattenhuber has either won or left with a commanding lead in each of his past eight matches in the top spot, while Chafetz is 5-0 since returning to the lineup. Kahan—who the Tigers did not face during the regular season—has won 15 straight for the Lord Jeffs and will likely go up against DelaFuente, who earned the Tigers’ only singles point against Amherst during the regular season.

Cocanougher highlights Trinity’s singles lineup as the 2011 SCAC Player of the Year, but it’s the bottom of the Tigers’ ladder that has been particularly successful as of late. Playing at number five will be Greg Haugen ’14, who has posted an 18-6 record in his debut season and is unbeaten in his past nine matches. Carroll has won four straight at number six, giving him an impressive 11-3 mark on the year.

Visit the Claremont website for more information.