Lost in all the ITA regional craziness was a set of two huge matchups this weekend, and I must say that they did not disappoint. Luckily, both of these matchups fell into my region, and I had the joy of following them point-by-point over the weekend.
Hopkins defeats Amherst, 6-3
What a way to start off the official dual match season. Yes, I know that this is “preseason,” but this was a great way for Hopkins to prove that they are going to be right in the thick of things this year. Amherst, as we all know, doesn’t really put any emphasis on fall play, and I feel they use these matches to get their freshmen some match experience in tight matches. Well, Hopkins took advantage of this and came out firing in doubles, and they were a couple of points away from a 3-0 sweep. Brown/Lim continued their torrid play with a convincing win against Kahan/Rezvin, and this team is looking like a very good #1 team moving forward. Hop then captured #3 over a weak Amherst 3 team in my opinion, putting them in a great spot going into singles. Singles proved to be a battle with 4 three setters, and Amherst was lucky enough to capture 2 of these to make the final score 6-3. Obviously a couple things to note – Fritz and Dale are abroad, and Hopkins got Reiter back for this match. I really think the big thing to take from this match is that the Amherst freshmen are going to be competitive but may take their lumps. I expected Hopkins to win this and they did so in a deciding fashion.
Carnegie Mellon def. Amherst, 5-4
This was a match that I actually expected to go in Amherst’s direction pretty easily. CMU has a lot of promise this year, but I didn’t think they’d be ready for such a big match early in the season. And I was wrong. To put this in context, last year’s CMU team got scraped by a not full Amherst team 9-0. Not to mention a normally strong CMU doubles lineup got swept by what is in my opinion a weak Amherst doubles lineup. Miller and Duncan’s loss at #1 doubles was most surprising, as they were the only team to take a set off Amherst at NCAA Individuals last year. But what came next was even more surprising. CMU came out and dominated the singles, something Hopkins didn’t do the day before. The freshman trio of Alla/Kumar/Hasegawa notched convincing straight set wins. Shoutout to Alla for a straight set win over Mark Kahan, who is considered by many to be one of the toughest players in D3. Also another thing to note, CMU’s new #1 Heaney-Secord dominating the ITA Champ Yaraghi in straights – wow. One thing D3 Tennis Guy said to me was maybe Amherst was tired from the tough match against Hopkins the day before. However, these guys are either fresh from the juniors or have national championship experience. Not an excuse in my opinion. Huge, huge win for the Tartans; and if they can get their doubles to where it was last year, they will be a team that no one wants to play during the season.