Opening victory not enough for Lord Jeffs

The Jeffs cruised to a 4-0 lead, as each of their top four players won convincing victories. Early leads could become a familiar sight for the Jeffs, as seniors Michael Strong and Gifford Sommerkamp and Auloke Mathur ’07 return for their second tour of duty as the team’s top trio. Each had a relatively easy day against Bowdoin. All three won in four sets and each won one set 9-0. The four spot could also be a strength this year, as it will be manned by Mark Rapisarda ’07 who was formerly the nation’s 22nd ranked under-19 player. Rapisarda also won easily against the Polar Bears, taking the match in the minimum three sets.

The back half of the rotation had a slightly more difficult afternoon, as the Jeffs dropped three of the final five matches. Brian Lawrence ’05 and Stu Landesberg ’07 secured the Amherst victory with three-set wins at the seventh and eighth spots, respectively.

The victory was Amherst’s first step towards the team’s ultimate goal of cracking the top 10 this season and passing Williams College, who begins the season at ninth in the rankings. With nine of their top 10 players returning from last season the Jeffs are poised to meet expectations.

According to Sommerkamp, the win against Bowdoin felt good but did not reflect the team’s potential. “Bowdoin’s a tough team, and has always been a problem, so we were happy to come out with the win,” he said. “However, we could’ve played better.” Despite the victory, Amherst dropped one spot in the national squash rankings from 13th to 14th.

On Friday, the Jeffs will have a chance to prove what they are capable of when they play the 21st-ranked Tufts University Jumbos, who will travel to Amherst to play an evening match. “We’re looking forward to playing against Tufts on Saturday,” said Sommerkamp. “Hopefully we’ll have a better victory against them.” In order to move up in the rankings the Jeffs will need to be wary of upsets from lower-ranked teams such as the Jumbos, currently 3-5.

Friday will mark the end of the competition for this semester. The men will resume competition on Jan. 14 at seventh-ranked University of Pennsylvania. The match will be the first in a series against higher-ranked squads that the Jeffs must win in order to become a top tier team.