Challenged by perhaps the most talented opponent of its season so far, Andover Boys Tennis clawed its way to a 3-3 deadlock before narrowly falling 4-3 to Roxbury Latin last Friday. Nonetheless, the team successfully bounced back to clinch a resounding 6-1 victory against St. Paul’s on Monday. Andover’s record now stands at 2-5.
“We knew going [into the Roxbury Latin match] that they had a really strong one, two and three at the top of their ladder, so we had to fight for every other match. Our goal was to win the doubles point and sweep the rest of the singles. We came close – in the end it came down to the wire and we unfortunately dropped it. Even though we lost, it was one of our best performances this year against a very strong team.” said Jonathan Jow ’16.
Andover roared off to an aggressive start after seizing the doubles point according to plan. The duo of Christopher Kralik ’16 and Michael Huang ’15 won the first doubles match 8-4, while Justin Curtis ’15 and Nolan Crawford ’15 wrapped up the third match 8-4 to secure Andover a 1-0 lead.
The team lost steam in the singles matches, claiming victories only at the fourth and sixth seeds: Jow won 6-3, 6-1 at fourth singles and Curtis won 6-1, 6-3 at sixth. First seed Kralik grinded out three grueling sets, patiently whittling away at his opponent. However, in the end, he fell 10-4 in the tiebreaker after splitting his sets 6-7 (3), 7-6 (5).
Second seed Huang dropped his sets 6-0, 7-5, William Way ’17 fell 6-3, 6-0 at third singles, and fifth seed Tyler Shen ’17 lost 4-6, 4-6.
Head Coach Gregory Wilkin said, “We had key opportunities that we missed against Roxbury Latin. We were playing at a very high level, better than most our games this season, but we made one too many mistakes to win. We fell just short after missing a few key points in crucial matches. Still, I’m happy with how we played.”
Disappointed by the Roxbury Latin result, Andover welcomed St. Paul’s with a determined vengeance. This aggressive mindset paid off in the end, and Andover walked away with an impressive 6-1 victory.
The team repeated its dominance in the doubles matches, claiming the point after winning at second and third doubles. Jow and Charles Denholm ’18 won the second match 8-4, while Curtis and Crawford boasted an 8-0 shutout at third.
Unlike the Roxbury Latin match, however, this success carried over into singles. Andover reaped wins across the board, with the only loss coming from Kralik after a 6-3, 2-6, 10-6 tie-breaker set.
Huang won 6-0, 6-3 at second singles, Jow won 6-2, 6-0 at third, and Shen grinded out a tough 7-5, 7-5 victory at fourth. Curtis and Denholm wrapped up the bottom of the ladder, winning 6-3, 6-2 at fifth singles, and 6-0, 6-1 at sixth, respectively.
Wilkin said, “In all of our matches [against St. Paul’s], our players played with great focus and determination. Because of this, we had extremely positive results up and down the board. We built comfortable leads and won the crucial crunch time points. We’re doing better and better, and we’re peaking at a good time.”
Shen said, “We stuck to our game plan and we knew we had to win this match – we had to break out of our slump. Our intensity was at a very high level, and we all grinded out our matches with success and we played very methodically.”
Andover will try to capitalize on its upward momentum on Friday when it faces Brooks at home.