Andover Boys Tennis Co-Captain Aidan Burt ’21 came back from a 0-3 deficit in singles, winning 12 games in a row to help drive Andover Boys Tennis to a 7-0 sweep against Belmont Hill on Friday. With another 7-0 sweep against Phillips Exeter Academy the following day, the team improved its record to 6-0.
Leading up to its games against Belmont Hill and Exeter, Andover expected to face challenges against a strong Belmont Hill team, according to Jeremy Liao ’24.
“Heading into the match this weekend, we definitely weren’t expecting to sweep them because we had played Belmont Hill earlier in the season, but they didn’t have their top three. So I don’t think we were even expecting to win, but in the end, we pulled through,” said Liao.
According to Head Coach Leon Calleja, he places a focus on staying persistent throughout matches. The team’s perseverance was shown on the court this past weekend as multiple Andover players came back from deficits against their opponents.
Coach Calleja said, “One thing that I’ve always tried to have the players work on is extending the point–making [so] they play all through the end of the point. And so I think that definitely showed in a few of our matches, some of our players were down early, and the idea of extending the game made the grinding out element of the match, put them in an advantage because they were able to extend the match to the third set and win the third set whereas I think if they weren’t used to playing the points all the way throughout, they might get a little bit more tired or feel out of it by the end of the match.”
In Andover’s close matches, staying calm under pressure was a key factor towards the team’s success, according to Coach Calleja.
Coach Calleja said, “There were some really critical matches where some were behind, either early, or they got behind, maybe even dropping a full set. But being able to come back from that and not losing confidence, I think that’s probably the biggest thing that I noticed in my players and was really happy to see. There were moments when they felt I think some of their confidence was shot a bit, and a different player or a different team might have folded, but they got through and won in all cases. So it was just really impressive how they were able to maintain their confidence when they clearly weren’t necessarily playing their best.”
Maintaining an undefeated record throughout the season, the team has had consistent play against its opponents each week. According to Liao, the team’s success on the court can be attributed to the humble mindset it has heading into matches.
“I think going [into each match,] we try and make sure that we’re not over confident and that we still play our best despite maybe being against an opponent that we think might be worse than we are. So I think that the co-captains have been really good at emphasizing that we shouldn’t get too cocky and too overconfident, and that we should just look to play our best,” said Liao.
As Andover prepares to face Exeter once more for its final match of the season, the team looks to work hard during practice and continue its consistent play in hopes of finishing with an undefeated record, according to Burt.
“Having played Exeter, we know what kind of a team they are, and we know that if we continue to practice hard and bring our best tennis, that will give us the best chance that we have. And I think it’s just keeping up what we were already doing, getting off to a good start to doubles, and then working on constructing points and staying patient are going to be key things for us heading into [Andover/Exeter,]” said Burt.
Andover will face Exeter away on Saturday for its final match of the season.