With a match point ahead of him, Junior phenomenon William Way ’17 stepped up to the baseline and fired off an ace to clinch the match, claiming the doubles title in the number two bracket at the New-England Mid-Atlantic Invitational Tournament.
Way and partner Jonathan Jow ’16 took the only titles for Andover Boys Tennis in the tournament. The duo won two super-tiebreakers on the way to the top, one in the semi-finals and the other in the finals.
“Way and Jow had a very effective strategy going. Way used his power to keep his opponents glued to the baseline, so Jow could finish off with the easy volley,” said Co-Captain James Heaney ’14.
Andover Boys Tennis endured the 12-hour trek to Baltimore, MD, to compete at NEMA this weekend. The team ultimately placed fourth amongst 12 of the region’s top teams after finishing in second-place last year.
“We met or exceeded our expectations at NEMA. Our performance was very close to being as good as last year’s second-place finish, where we also had lots of players playing on the last day,” wrote Coach Gregory Wilkin in an email to The Phillipian.
The tournament had a different format than what the team is used to playing. No players were allowed to overlap for singles and doubles, altering Andover’s lineup.
Heaney played number one singles, followed by Christopher Kralik ’16 at number two singles and Michael Huang ’15 at number three singles.
Co-Captain Henry Kalb ’14 and a healed Dan Wang ’14 joined forces for number one doubles. The pair fell just short of the title after losing 10-8 in a third set super tiebreaker against the top seeded team in the finals.
Andover faced more of a challenge in the singles brackets.
“We were a little banged up going in this year, with some sore backs and arms and ankle injuries, but the boys fought hard and played well, using their strengths very intelligently,” said Wilkin.
Heaney took on the most skilled opponents thus far in the season. He faced five and four-star competitors, according to “tennisrecruiting.com.”
“In my singles matches, I tried to grind really hard, which did bother my opponents somewhat, but ultimately I probably should have been more aggressive to overcome their power,” said Heaney.
Kralik had a close loss to the top seed in the number two singles bracket. He avenged this loss with a streak of success in the consolation rounds.
Huang also lost a close match to a player from Balitmore’s Gilman School, who would go on to win the tournament. He recovered quickly and was able to secure wins in the consolation bracket as well, thanks to his weapon of a forehand.
Closer to home, but without Kalb in the singles lineup, Andover fell 4-3 to Exeter last Wednesday.
Wins from Heaney, Kralik, Kalb and Huang gave Andover the doubles point, but the team could not continue the momentum in singles.
On the other courts, the players struggled with keeping their focus during the entire match.
“We played poorly and didn’t take advantage of our opportunities. We could have made better use of the wind and won more deuce points,” said Heaney.
With this in mind, the team will focus on match play and consistency in practice as it prepares to take on St. Paul’s this Monday.