Andover Boys Tennis fought a fierce uphill battle against Groton last Thursday, starting in a 0-1 hole after forfeiting a match. Despite the challenge, Andover persevered and triumphed 4-3 to claim its first win of the season and lift its record to 1-3.
Andover could not capitalize on this upward momentum, however, as it fell to Phillips Exeter Academy 6-1 on Wednesday.
Third seed William Way ’17 fell ill before the Groton match, forcing Andover to default the sixth singles match and the third doubles match. These forfeits gave Groton a 1-0 lead in doubles and a 1-0 lead overall.
Groton swiftly exploited its advantage in doubles, winning the second doubles match 8-2 against Tyler Shen ’17 and Charles Denholm ’18 to collect the doubles point and extend its lead to 2-0.
Heading into singles, Andover knew that it couldn’t afford to get careless. The team gathered its resolve and won four of its singles matches, only falling at third singles.
Second seed Captain Michael Huang ’15 exemplified Andover’s quiet fortitude, winning his set 17-15 in a tiebreaker after an exhausting stretch of games. The team emerged triumphant 4-3 after his singles victories.
Denholm, who played fifth seed against Groton, said, “There was a lot more team support and spirit this game. [Christopher Kralik ’16] and I both finished our matches early and rushed over to support and cheer on [Huang] in his tiebreaker. The team spirit we had that day was incredible, and I think that really set that game apart from our previous ones. That’s how we came away with the win.”
Denholm continued, “To be honest, forfeiting two matches and being down from the beginning helped us in the end. Knowing that we were playing an uphill battle gave us motivation, and we all knew we couldn’t afford to lose any single match.”
Huang wrote in an email to The Phillipian, “I think this match went the way it did because we really grinded the match out. No one on the team let mistakes get to them and everyone played consistently, so we eventually came out on top. I hope our team keeps this mentally throughout the rest of the season.”
Andover’s momentum proved to be short lived, however, as the team’s energy quickly fizzled out in a 6-1 loss to Exeter.
The team conceded the doubles point after quick losses in the second and third doubles matches, preventing the first doubles match from being finished. Second doubles Jonathan Jow ’16 and Way lost 8-3, while Justin Curtis ’15 and Denholm lost at third doubles 8-6.
Andover dropped the ball in the singles sets, as Curtis was the only one who managed to pull in a win at sixth seed by a 6-3, 6-2 margin. After first seed Kralik lost 6-2, 6-1, the losses began to pile up down the line. Shen came close to clinching another point for Andover after splitting sets with his opponent, but ultimately lost his tie-breaker set 10-4.
Shen said, “We can improve on our mental toughness and our ability to win close points. Many of our matches had key moments that were tight and ultimately led to a streak of lost games. I’d say we need to work on that. Beyond that, the team just didn’t play very well and we produced a disappointing result.”
Andover will face off against Roxbury Latin on Friday, seeking to turn its season around.