With a stroke of his racket, Justin Curtis ’15 lobbed a shot into the air, baiting his Choate opponent into returning the ball into the net on Saturday. Curtis and his partner Nolan Crawford ’15 would go on to win 9-7 in their third doubles match in front of a raucous crowd on Grandparents Weekend. Andover eventually beat Choate 5-2, a satisfying result after falling 4-3 to Brooks the day before.
Motivated by the tough loss against Brooks, the team sprang out to an early lead against Choate by clinching the doubles points. Will Way ’17 and Charles Denholm ’18 grabbed a relatively easy 8-4 win in the second doubles match, while Curtis and Crawford grinded out their match, patiently wearing away at their opponents with precise returns.
“[We] definitely had a ton of focus and motivation to get a good win under our belts after having a tough loss on Friday. We had gutsy play across the board. [The highlight of the match] was when my partner hit [that] beautiful lob, forcing our opponents into a smash error. After that play, I knew we could win,” said Crawford.
Andover carried this momentum into singles play, sweeping the top four singles matches, even though it was missing Jonathan Jow ’16. Chris Kralik ’16 won first seed singles 6-3, 6-2. Captain Michael Huang ’15 won 6-3, 6-1 as second seed, Way triumphed as third seed 6-4, 6-2 and Tyler Shen ’17 beat his opponent 7-5, 6-1 as fourth seed.
Shen said, “Heading into Choate, we knew that we had to win the doubles point. The third doubles did really well to fight through their match and win the point for us. We all did really well in singles, and we knew we had to play hard to make up for Jow’s absence. Looking back, I’d say that winning the doubles point was absolutely crucial since it gave us an edge heading into singles.”
Andover’s play on Saturday was motivated by its 4-3 loss suffered at Brooks the day before. The Brooks match was also defined by the third doubles match, in which Andover failed to pull through with the win. Jow played for Andover against Brooks, but the team was missing Way.
Kralik and Huang nabbed a commanding 8-2 victory in the first doubles match, while Brooks managed to counter with an 8-4 victory in second doubles. The weight fell upon the shoulders of Curtis and Crawford once again, who dueled out their match 9-8 before losing 7-5 in the tiebreaker.
Shen said, “It was rough, because we came so close to winning but just couldn’t finish. We played decently, but we got unlucky in some places. We almost won the doubles point, which would’ve given us the win, but our third doubles lost in their tiebreaker set. It wasn’t their fault – that game was incredibly close and could have swung either way. In terms of singles at least, we played really well and clinched solid wins across the board.”
The two teams split the singles matches, with Andover claiming victories in the first, third and sixth matches. Kralik won his tiebreaker 10-7 at first singles after splitting the first two sets 2-6 and 6-2 with his opponent.
Jow employed a different strategy to win his third match, focusing on his returns and letting his opponent make the mistakes. He won 6-3, 0-6 and 10-8. Denholm won the six match with blistering serves, claiming the 7-5, 6-2 victory.
Huang said, “We only needed the doubles win to push it over. That tiebreaker game was rough. Nonetheless, the wins that we got were all solid wins – our guys fought well. I wouldn’t say it was a bad loss but more of an unlucky one.”
The team is unsure if it will make playoffs this year due to its 3-6 record after being hampered by an incomplete roster for the entire season.
Nonetheless, it looks forward to a scrimmage against Andover High School on Thursday before facing off against Phillips Exeter Academy next Wednesday.