Stepping in with his right foot and lunging to catch the ball with his backhand, Chris Kralik ’16 seized up with a searing pain in his back. Just like his swing, Kralik’s momentum was cut short as he struggled to play through the injury. He lost the second set 6-2 and the super-tiebreaker 10-6 after shutting out his Noble and Greenough opponent 6-0 in the first set.
The team, however, covered for Kralik’s loss and went on to beat Nobles 5-2 last Friday.
Co-Captain Henry Kalb ’14 opened with a confident 5-0 lead, but ultimately faced a tough opponent. He came out with a 7-6 victory and quickly sealed the second set 6-2, determining the match for Andover.
“I was able to use the wind to my advantage by slicing a lot. When I took the first set, my opponent just broke down, making too many mistakes trying to be aggressive,” said Kalb.
Kralik’s back injury, however, forced him to sit out the team’s match against Deerfield last Saturday, where his and injured Dan Wang’s ’14 absences were heavily felt. Andover suffered its first loss of the season 4-3, cutting its four game winning streak short.
Co-Captain James Heaney ’14 filled in for Kralik at number one singles. Battling a top ten player in New England and Bowdoin tennis recruit, Heaney fell after a tight second set, 6-2 6-4.
“He’s a very tough competitor and doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. I was really put on the defensive against his service weapon,” said Heaney.
The rest of the team shifted up the ladder to make up for the losses of Kralik and Wang.
Junior William Way ’17 continued his impressive antics. After winning 6-1, 6-2 against Nobles, Way defeated his Deerfield opponent 6-1, 6-1 on Court 4 with an aggressive forehand and net game.
Huang was next to win 6-7, 6-0 (10-5) at number two singles. Valuable advice from Assistant Coach Trey Meyer after the first set helped Huang turn the momentum in his favor and take command of the match.
“He told me to take advantage of the wind and my unorthodox slices in order to run my opponent around,” said Huang.
Kalb scraped out another close win 5-7 7-6 (5), (10-6) at number three singles. After saving a match point, Kalb used his forehand and shot variety to eventually wear down his opponent.
With Andover feeling the pressure, tied 3-3 going into doubles, Kralik applied for and was granted a medical clearance.
Heaney and Kralik grabbed a fast 6-3 lead in doubles, yet a surge in their opponents’ energy and serving power propelled Deerfield to an 8-6 win.
Number two doubles duo Huang and Kalb sealed the only doubles win for Andover 8-5.
With Kralik and Wang on the mend, Andover has high hopes going into the New England Mid-Atlantic Tournament this Saturday in Baltimore.
Kalb said, “We took second place last year, and that only makes us hungrier for the first place finish this year. If we utilize our shots and play true to our own style, we’ll be a force on the court.”
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