Wracked by injuries and battered by harsh weather conditions, Andover Boys Tennis suffered a disappointing 6-1 loss against Taft on Saturday. The match dropped the defending New England Champion’s record to 0-2.
Andover’s lineup heading into the match was incomplete and shaky after losing third seed Will Way ’17 to injury, so several newcomers stepped in to fill the bottom ladder spots. Viraj Kumar ’17 took the fifth seed, and Chase Denholm ’18 took the sixth seed.
Along with fielding a relatively inexperienced team, Andover also suffered in the adverse weather conditions.
Sixth seed Tyler Shen ’17 said, “This was our first time playing outdoors this season. It was freezing and the wind was strong, and we weren’t able to adapt quickly enough to the weather. However, that’s not an excuse for the loss. We were caught unprepared and that’s unacceptable. We need to make sure that this never happens again.”
Taft snagged two quick wins in the two and three doubles matches, 8-1 and 8-2, respectively, before first seed Chris Kralik ’16 and second seed and Captain Michael Huang ’15 could finish their match, giving Taft the early 1-0 lead. With these decisive victories, Taft gained momentum that Andover could not overcome.
Shen said, “We lost a lot of steam after dropping the doubles matches. That negative attitude carried over into singles, and the end results really reflected that. I know that we could’ve won this match, but all the little things prevented us from performing well. We all could’ve beaten our opponents, but I think we all had a rough day.”
The singles were a rough streak for Andover: first seed Kralik lost his match 6-3, 6-2 while third seed Jonathan Jow ’16, who took Way’s spot, lost his match to the same score. The rather lopsided scoreboards remained constant down the rest of the ladder, with the exception of Huang.
The Captain decimated his opponent in the number two match 6-3 and 6-1, providing a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing day for Andover. Huang employed a mix of slices and lobs to great effect, thoroughly dismantling the opposition.
Looking forward, the team is eager to internalize what it took away from the match.
Kralik wrote in an email to The Phillipian, “I think we learned that we should play as a team rather than as individuals, which might have made a difference for us in the end. I think we should all try our best in every single match rather than rely on the wins of others. If everyone thinks this way then I’m confident that we can defend our title.”
Shen shared this optimism, saying, “In terms of skill and technical ability, we’re solid at this point. However, we need to get our winning mentality and attitude back to win matches. We have to be more aggressive and confident.”
To sum up the seemingly disappointing match, Huang said, “[We gained] valuable match experience and a good sense of team spirit. We didn’t get too down after the loss, and we’re looking to improve over the season.”
Andover will play its home opener against Middlesex on Friday, hoping to secure its first win of the season.