PA Boys Tennis Topples Tufts, Drills Exeter

Andover Boys Tennis proved their resiliency this week. Coming off their first loss of the season, the boys bounced back in admirable fashion, as they shut out the Tufts JV team. The team restored its confidence that it was, indeed, on track to preserve their winning record and qualify for the New England tournaments in late May. Each Andover player simply dominated his adversary in singles match-ups. Michael Li ’06 trounced Tufts’ Anand Sithian in two sets. The next three seeds for Andover made use of their experience and resolve in beating all three of their respective opponents, earning three more points towards the Big Blue’s final score. Joe Musumeci ’03 overpowered opponent Jason Shellary after battling him in the first set and finally breaking him in the second; the score was 7-5, 6-4. Russel Dykema ’04, in turn, outlasted Mike DeBartolo, 5-7, 6-2, 6-2. Coach Tom Hodgson later recognized Dykema’s come-from-behind victory by awarding him the “gold star” for effort, and for “deserving to win.” Team captain Simon Hawkins ’03 closed out the singles competitions with a decisive shut-out of John Papp, 6-0, 6-0. In doubles games, the Blue picked up where it had left off earlier. Andover’s top-seeded doubles team of Hawkins and Li dominated their match, 8–4, while Dan Wagman ’06 and John Weigel ’05 overcame the odds in a mismatch by winning, 8–5. However, the team’s flawless performance at home against Tufts was only to preface a disappointing loss to Deerfield a few days later. What was supposed to be an away game at Deerfield changed on short notice. Because of poor weather conditions in both Deerfield and Andover, the game was relocated to Groton (which houses a facility of eight indoor tennis courts). Whatever momentum the team had gained with its convincing win against Tufts had, by the April 26, dissipated. Indeed, the team showed itself to be slightly ill at ease and under-prepared in losing to Deerfield, 1–6. The Blue’s only victory came from Li. Otherwise, losses on all fronts doomed PA to a very forgettable loss (only the squad’s second defeat of the season). In singles match-ups, Li outlasted Deerfield Senior Alex Laporte in a well-fought contest between power players. Ultimately, Li’s exceptional shot placement and unparalleled resolve overcame the sheer power of his opponent, as Li won 7–5, 6–3. Musumeci dropped two sets (4-6, 2-6) in his loss to Nick Kennedy. Dykema fell to his adversary as well, losing in two sets (4-6, 2-6). Hawkins lost his match as well (6-2, 1-6, 2-6). Weigel and Wagman both lost their respective matches, despite forcing their opponents to three-set matches. After edging his Deerfield counterpart in the first set, Wagman lost the next two (7-6, 5-7, 4-6) in what was an undeniably close game. Weigel lost as well, going down in three sets (3-6, 6-1, 3-6). The doubles competitions offered little relief for a beleaguered Andover team as the team lost, 9-7 and 8-1. The squad was able to reverse its fortunes in Wednesday’s contest against Phillips Exeter Academy. PA bounced back in a commendable way by dispatching Exeter, 6-1. After losing six straight matches to Exeter in the past three years, Andover was finally able to break its losing streak by dominating both the singles and doubles matches. Li and Hawkins trounced their opponents with a decisive 8-4 victory. A team comprised of Musumeci and Dykema followed through in similar fashion, eliminating Exeter’s first and fourth seeds by the score of 8-6. Although the outcome of the doubles competitions had already been determined (and the one overall point allotted to the Blue), Wagman and Weigel were able to conclude their match with an 8-6 win. After sweeping the Big Red in doubles play, Li, who has been perfect in match play this season, defeated Duncan Ma in a 6-2, 6-2 win. Musumeci beat out his adversary, Austin Blackmon, in two sets, 7-5, 6-3. Dykema, Hawkins, and Weigel all followed through with wins against their respective opponents; such complete dominance of an overmatched Exeter squad compensated for Wagman’s 1-6, 3-6 loss. Coach Hodgson expressed his pride in the team’s achievement, while recognizing that archrival Exeter had lost some valuable Seniors at the end of last season: “Exeter was weakened by graduation…they had some great players who left last year, and that helped us out a little bit.” Nevertheless, PA’s achievement is as it stands. With its unmitigated mastery of a long-time rival, the team has broken a six-game losing streak to the Exies and dispelled any fears that it might be slipping after a humbling loss to Deerfield. With only two losses thus far in the season, the team seems to be well on its way to a successful remainder of the term.