Amherst began the spring on March 24 against a visiting Boston College squad. The Eagles defeated the Jeffs 5-2. Amherst’s two points came from co-captains Max Rettig ’05 and Rob Feeley ’04, who won the third and fifth singles matches, respectively.
Second and fourth singles players Danny Babkes ’06 and Jeff Lawrence ’07 were both defeated in close three-set matches that could have gone either way. Jon Godsall ’06 and Lawrence paired to win second doubles 8-2, but Boston earned the doubles point by taking the other two.
“We had our chances to pull out the win, but we lost two close three-set matches that decided the match. We were glad to see ourselves push a Div. I team to the limit, but of course we weren’t happy with the end result,” said Rettig.
Amherst was then defeated at nationally-ranked Tufts on March 29. The Jumbos won, 6-1. Babkes earned Amherst’s sole point at second singles, winning 6-2, 6-0. First singles player Josh Rilla ’06 lost in three sets as did Lawrence, playing the fourth singles court.
Godsall and Lawrence again won second doubles, 8-3, but the other two doubles matches were close losses to the Jumbos, so Tufts earned the doubles tally.
“Against Tufts, we underperformed and again lost some close matches that could have made the difference. It was a tough loss, but we have a few more opportunities in the coming weeks to show that we deserve a bid to the NCAA Tournament,” Rettig noted.
“We really had a shot,” said Lawrence. “It would have helped a lot to have the doubles point.” Doubles matches are played first in men’s tennis, so the Jeffs were down going into singles, the heart of the matchup.
Amherst earned its first victory of the spring last Thursday against visiting Connecticut College. Playing indoors due to the weather, the Jeffs swept the Camels, 7-0. Rilla took first singles 6-2, 6-0, followed by Babkes winning second 6-0, 6-4, and Rettig grabbing third 6-2, 6-2. Lawrence, Feeley and Godsall rounded out the singles victories.
Babkes and Rilla teamed for an 8-4 first doubles victory, as Godsall and Lawrence took second doubles and Scott Bronner ’06 and Karti Subramanian ’07 won at the three spot.
On Saturday, Amherst was matched up against Little Three rival Wesleyan, ranked 10th in the Northeast just ahead of 11th-ranked Amherst. The Jeffs came out on top by a score of 5-2 in by far their biggest win this season.
Rilla won at first singles 7-6, (7-2), 6-1 while Babkes took second, 6-2, 6-2. Lawrence, in a heartbreaker, dropped his match with a tiebreaker in each set, 7-6, (7-2), 7-6, (7-4). Rettig, Feeley and Godsall won the fourth through sixth singles matches in straight sets, respectively. Babkes and Rilla were again victorious at first doubles, 8-6, but the other two pairs were defeated by the Cardinals so Wesleyan earned the doubles point.
“[The two wins] showed our mettle. We didn’t get discouraged after our loss to Tufts, and instead we went out and convincingly took down two of our NESCAC rivals,” said Rettig.
Lawrence mentioned the importance of doubles this spring. “We’ve had trouble [clinching doubles]; only once have we won the doubles point,” he said. After going into singles down, “everyone else played really well to come back.”
The Jeffs returned to the courts yesterday against Drew, winning 6-1 and showing a marked improvement over last year’s 4-3 squeaker victory.
Next Saturday, Amherst travels to rival Williams College. Rettig is optimistic. “We’ll be readying ourselves all week for Saturday’s match with Williams, the number-two team in the nation. We can compete with them at every position, singles or doubles, and I expect that we’ll come out with a big victory on Saturday,” said Rettig.