Brimming with confidence and intensity, Andover Boys Tennis finished its season on a high note after overwhelming its northern rival Phillips Exeter Academy 4-2 on Wednesday. The win capped off a three-game winning streak and solidified Andover’s record for the 2015 season at 5-6.
Andover, who had hoisted the 2014 New England Interscholastic Tennis Association (NEITA) trophy the previous year, had more than just its rivalry with Exeter at stake. Exeter had clinched the 2015 NEITA Championship title the weekend before the match, and Andover was out for revenge.
After being crippled by injuries and an incomplete roster for the entire season, Andover was finally able to muster up a complete lineup for its final match. The team was excited to be able to play without any missing members.
“Having a full lineup definitely helped. This was a great chance for us to prove ourselves, because we didn’t get to do that at the New England’s tournament this season. None of us have been performing at our best this season, but today we really pulled through and showed that on the court,” said first seed Christopher Kralik ’16.
Tyler Shen ’17 added, “We went in knowing we had a pretty good chance. Up until this point, we’ve never had our full lineup healthy and in action, so we were extremely confident. Also, since they won New England’s, we were even more motivated to win.”
Andover harnessed this energy and passion and roared off to a strong start after clinching the doubles point. William Way ’17 and Charles Denholm ’18 finished their second doubles match swiftly with an 8-4 victory, but Exeter shot back with an 8-5 win in the third doubles match.
Kralik and Captain Michael Huang ’15 broke the stalemate by clinching the first doubles match 8-6 to give Andover the 1-0 lead.
Kralik said, “I think the first doubles point was huge. Winning the doubles really got everyone motivated and pumped up for the singles matches. During the singles, everyone was really focused and just extremely determined to win.”
Andover then proceeded to win three of six singles matches, dropping only the fourth and fifth seeds while leaving the second seed match unfinished. Kralik clinched the first seed singles match 6-4, 6-1, adapting well to the robust wind and showing impressive mobility around the court.
Huang played his second seed matches to 3-6, 4-3 before being unable to finish them. Way clinched a clutch win in his tiebreaker at the third seed, winning 11-9 after splitting the first two sets 0-6, 6-4. Jonathan Jow ’16 dropped his match 6-2, 6-2 at the third seed, while Shen fell 0-6, 6-0, 7-1 in his tiebreaker. Justin Curtis ’15 wrapped up the day with a 6-3, 6-4 win at the sixth seed.
Even though Andover had a rocky start to its season, the team found its footing near the end of the year. Andover’s late success culminated in the impressive Exeter victory, a satisfying victory after a season filled with ups and downs.
Kralik said, “What I saw today was that everyone was just having fun. Everyone was relaxed and having fun, and there were a lot of laughs. It was a great way to end the season.”