Jeffs Heading West for NCAA Championships
Contact: Ben Badua
AMHERST, Mass. - The third-ranked Amherst men’s tennis team resumes its quest for a second national championship on Monday when it takes the court against fourth-ranked Emory in the national quarterfinals in Kalamazoo, Mich.
TOURNAMENT DETAILS: The final three rounds of the NCAA Division III Men’s Tennis Championship will take place at Kalamazoo College’s Stowe Stadium and Western Michigan University’s Sorensen Courts. Quarterfinal matches will begin on Monday, May 20, followed by the semifinals on Tuesday and the title match on Wednesday. The individual doubles and singles championships will take place from May 23-25.
LIVE COVERAGE: Live stats and a webcast will be available for the championships, courtesy of Kalamazoo College and the NCAA. Links will be available on the tournament website.
SCOUTING AMHERST (29-8)
Despite falling to No. 6 Williams (5-4) in the NESCAC Championship game, Amherst still earned a first round bye into the tournament field of 44. Hosting TCNJ in the second round, the Jeffs coasted to a 5-0 sweep before dispatching of Stevens, 5-1, to punch their ticket to a fifth consecutive national quarterfinal.
Posting a 26-13 overall record in 15 NCAA Championship appearances, Amherst won the title in 2011, while finishing as the national runner-up in 2009 and 2010. The Jeffs have twice met Emory in tournament play, defeating the Eagles (5-2) in the 2011 championship match and the 2010 quarterfinals (5-4).
Boasting a lineup that features three of the ITA northeast region’s top four players, the Lord Jeffs have been on a tear this spring, winning 16 of their last 17 dual matches. Playing in the middle of the Amherst lineup during his first two seasons, Joey Fritz '14 has made the move to the top of the order and has posted a 10-3 record en route to first team All-NESCAC singles honors. Winning six straight during a three-week stretch in April, he fell to NESCAC Player of the Year Trey Meyer ’13 in the NESCAC championship match before rebounding for a 6-3, 6-3 victory first singles victory over TCNJ’s Marc Nichols ’13 in the NCAA second round.
A staple in the Amherst lineup since his arrival, Mark Kahan ’13 has pieced together a stellar senior season, picking up all-conference first team singles and second team doubles accolades. With a 14-5 record on the year, he enjoyed a nine-match win streak after falling to California Luther’s Ray Worley on Mar. 19. Playing with Michael Solimano ’16 for the better part of the spring, Kahan is 6-3 at first and second doubles.
The conference’s Rookie of the Year and an All-NESCAC second team singles and doubles honoree, Andrew Yaraghi ’16 had made an immediate impact on the Jeffs this season. Winning the USTA/ITA New England regional singles title in the fall, he started his career by winning his first seven collegiate matches. Carrying his success into the spring, he has not lost since Apr. 6, winning nine in a row heading into the quarterfinals, including a 6-0, 6-1 third singles victory over Stevens’ Shota Tasaki in the round of 16.
Teaming up with fellow first-year Ben Fife, Yaraghi picked up a pair of second doubles triumphs in the NCAA’s second and third rounds. Together the rookie tandem has posted a 10-2 mark on the year. Fife has also contributed to the heart of the singles lineup, having won three of his last four matches, en route to a No. 23 ranking in the ITA’s northeast region.
Chris Dale ’14 and Justin Reindel ’14 anchor the bottom of the order, with Dale going 11-3 on the season and Reindel posting a 14-2 mark. The tandem have been playing some of their best tennis of late, with Dale winning eight of his last nine and Reindel rattling off wins in 13 of his last 14, including nine in a row during a decisive month-long stretch bridging March and April.
SCOUTING THE FIELD
With a 16-6 record, Emory will face Amherst in the Elite 8. The Eagles have won eight of their past nine, only losing to No. 10 Washington University (St. Louis) in the UAA Championship. Since then, Emory dispatched of North Carolina Wesleyan (5-1) and No. 17 Texas-Tyler (5-0) to make its way to Michigan.
Top-ranked Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (28-3) squares off with No. 11 Middlebury (20-4) in Monday’s other quarterfinal beginning at 1:30 p.m. Having last lost to Division II BYU-Hawaii on Mar. 20, CMS has reeled off 17 in a row, defeating No. 5 Cal Lutheran (5-1) to secure its fourth trip to the round of eight. Losing to Williams (5-4) in the NESCAC playoffs, the Panthers are in search of their third national championship, downing Drew (5-0) and No. 9 Johns Hopkins (5-1) prior to Kalamazoo.
Headlining the afternoon session is a match-up between No. 2 Kenyon (25-3) and No. 10 Wash U (19-5). Dating back to a Mar. 15 loss to CMS (9-0), the Lords are riding a 16-match win streak, besting Franciscan (5-0) and No. 14 Case Western (5-4) in their first two NCAA outings. The Bears have been just as hot, also winning 16 straight en route to a seventh consecutive national quarterfinal. Winning the UAA championship with a 5-4 triumph over Emory, Wash U last lost to Hawaii Pacific on Mar. 15.
The day’s other match-up will pit No. 6 Williams against No. 8 Trinity (TX). Looking to claim its fourth national championship, the Ephs have won nine in a row, ousting Nichols and Skidmore in the tourney’s opening rounds after rallying to beat Amherst (5-4) in the NESCAC title tilt. Trinity’s last trip to Kalamazoo in 2000 resulted in a national championship, a feat the Tigers hope to repeat. Making its third quarterfinal appearance in four years, Trinity is also on a roll, having won 14 of its last 15 matches, including six in a row as the SCAC champions.
INDIVIDUAL CHAMPIONSHIPS: After the team championships, some of the country’s best players will remain in Kalamazoo to compete in the national singles and doubles tournaments from Thursday-Saturday, May 23-25. Representing Amherst in the 32-player singles bracket will be Fritz, Kahan and Yaraghi.
2013 NCAA Men's Tennis Championships
Quarterfinals - Monday, May 20
No. 3 Amherst vs. No. 4 Emory - 1:30 p.m. (Stowe)
No. 1 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps vs. No. 11 Middlebury - 1:30 p.m. (Sorensen)
No. 2 Kenyon vs. No. 10 Washington-St. Louis - 4 p.m. (Stowe)
No. 6 Williams vs. No. 8 Trinity (TX) - 4 p.m. (Sorensen)
Semifinals - Tuesday, May 21
Amherst/Emory vs. CMS/Middlebury - 1:30 p.m. (Stowe)
Kenyon/Wash U vs. Williams/Trinity - 4 p.m. (Stowe)
Finals - Wednesday, May 22
Third-place Match - 1:30 p.m. (Stowe)
Championship Match - 4 p.m. (Stowe)