Rice ’09 and Park ’09 Forced to Step Up

Andover experienced several major changes to its ladder this week, leading to two bittersweet matches against Brooks and Belmont Hill. Trey Meyer ’09, a consistently key player, was originally supposed to play 5th on the ladder but was unable to play. In addition, Alex Park ’09 and Spencer Rice ’09 played their first matches of the season in the top seven ladder. Andover geared up for its first match against Brooks on Thursday in what it expected to be an easy competition Rishi Jalan ’09, Captain Graham Miao ’09, Tony Zou ’09, Kyul Rhee ’10, Anthony Chau ’09, Rice, and Park all played on the ladder for Andover. Park played a great debut match, defeating his Brooks opponent three games to one. Playing with intensity, he controlled his match well and varied his shots in very long rallies. In the end Andover claimed the victory, winning six games to one. On Saturday, Jalan, Miao, Zou, Rhee, Hunter Schlacks ’10, Chau, and Rice faced Belmont Hill in their last home game of the season. Belmont Hill is the strongest team in New England, but Andover felt confident going into the match. “They were crippled because their number one was out due to an injury, and as a result, their ladder shifted,” said Miao. This seemed like a prime opportunity for the team to claim a victory, but Belmont Hill proved to be too strong, and Andover lost narrowly, three games to four. The top three prevailed, but the bottom four on the ladder lost against tough opponents. Jalan beat his skilled Belmont Hill opponent, even winning one game without a single point scored against him. Rhee played the most exciting game of the match. It looked as if he was going to pull through with the win, but in the end he was unable to match his opponents endurance and skill. Miao hopes that this match will be a lesson just in time for Interschols. “He needs to gain that competitive edge we saw from him in the previous Exeter match in which he won three games to two,” said Miao. Overall, the Belmont Hill match proved disappointing both to the team and its Captain. “I felt like we could have won with our advantage, but without Meyer it was neutralized,” said Miao. On Wednesday, Andover traveled to Exeter to play a highly anticipated match. In a match earlier this season, Andover defeated Exeter once four games to three. However, Exeter also beat Andover five games to three at Nationals earlier in February. All week, Andover trained with practice matches and high pressure drills. “We wanted to promote the physical intensity, endurance, mental discipline, and confidence we need against Exeter and in the Interschols,” said Miao. Chau was looking forward to an intense match on Wednesday. “I had high expectations for the team, and I knew everyone would put in 110% against our tough opponent,” he said. Andover prevailed over Exeter with final score of 5-2. This weekend, Andover will head to Interschols for their final tournament of the season. With an amazing record so far, the team has great potential for a successful tournament.