NE Seniors: Tribute

At the end of every school year, The Blog like to give special shoutouts to those who have made the season great. We handed out our end of the year awards in June, D3AS kicked off the season on Wednesday, but now it’s time for me to start the year like I always do, by looking back. D3West does a wonderful tribute article to “his” seniors, and the fallen NE leaders deserve their due. To paraphrase a well-known philosopher, this is not the greatest article in the world, this is just a tribute. Please remember that each writer only covers a certain number of teams, so I will only be talking about the seniors from the eight teams I covered last (and this upcoming) year. If you’re looking for Kai Yuen Leung love, you’ll have to pester D3RegNEC. Same goes for The Colby trio or the Brandeis quad and D3Regional. If I missed anybody, I am truly sorry and will do a separate write-up for them as my penance. As always, we at The Blog are HYPED to bring you another year of the best DIII coverage out there. I am looking forward to another tremendous year for the game that we all know and love, but before we can truly recognize the new class, we must remember. I’ve used this line before, but the one and only doctor put it best when he said “do not cry because it is over, smile because it happened.” 2017 seniors, thank you.

#21 MIT

Kenny Gea: Gea put together a swinging swan song for the Engineers, going 12-3 at spots between #3 and #6 against DIII competition. The Cali kid will leave MIT with a degree in Computer Science and has already interned at a couple of very cool technology companies, see what happens when you’re an ITA Scholar Athlete? His 12-3 record during senior year was no fluke, but he did improve upon an 8-4 record from his junior year, playing anywhere between #2 and #6 singles. Gea contributed to the singles lineup for all four of his years at MIT, and earned an ITA win in each of his first two years as well. He was one half of MIT’s senior captain duo that saw the team finish around #20 in the country each of their final two years in Cambridge.

Avi Walden: Mr. Walden was the other half of the captainship that led the Engineers back into the land of the top-20. Avi didn’t play as much as his saxophone slinging co-captain, but he did notch a 4-1 record in singles during his senior year, and was undefeated in doubles during the same spring. That was not a surprise, as Walden was more of a doubles specialist during his career, playing all three doubles spots with a variety of partners including Bryan Lilley, Kenny Gea, Tyler Barr and Sean Ko. During his sophomore season, he and Lilley picked up wins over Brandeis, NYU, and even Bowdoin at NCAAs. Avi majored in both mathematics and computer science, and something tells me with a double major from MIT the kid will do alright in the world. Congrats to both Kenny and Avi!

#19 BATES

Chris Ellis: Ellis was the most heralded recruit in this Bates class, and made an immediate impact as a freshman, playing in both the singles and doubles lineups. As a sophomore, he and Pierre Planche finished #16 in the country and 4th in the region for dubs. Chris followed that up with another top 25 ranking in 2016, this time paired with Ben Rosen, and capped his career with a best national doubles ranking of #9 in 2017. Ellis also played valuable #2 singles over the past couple years, earning big wins over players like Grant Urken (Bowdoin), Brian Granoff (Brandeis), Alex Cauneac (MIT), and Michael Solimano (Amherst). A great competitor known for his fiery on-court persona, but also an ITA-Scholar Athlete, Bates will be sorry to see Chris go.

Brent Feldman: Like Chris, Brent came in and made a difference right away for the Bobcats. As a freshman, Feldman won a big three-set match over Brian Tan (Tufts) to help lead Bates to a key conference win. He did more of the same his following year with a three-set win over Simonides (PP), which ended up being the deciding point in a 5-4 win over the Hens, who would go on to win a few close 5-4 matches of their own that year. A leader both on and off the court, Feldman was a team captain his senior year, and will be missed in Lewiston.

John Neufeld: Neufeld didn’t get a ton of court time over his time at Bates, but he played on the team for all four years, which given the vastly improving nature of DIII tennis shows that he was a valued member of the team. He leaves Bates with a Senior Scholar Award from the Athletic Department.

Pat Ordway: While Ellis played the highest in the lineup of this Bobcat class, Ordway was the team’s leader. A two-time captain, Pat left his mark both on and off the court. The big man played in the lineup all four years, starting as a #5 singles player, but ultimately being known for some nasty doubles as well. Pat was above .500 his freshman year, but really hit his stride the following year when he posted an 11-3 record in dual matches including winning his final six matches, five of which were against ranked opponents including Wesleyan, Bowdoin, Williams, and Middlebury. Ordway had better doubles years as a junior and senior, but still managed to beat rival Bowdoin in singles his senior year. Always his best in big matches, Bates fans will miss their vocal leader. Congrats to Chris, Brent, John and Pat!

#17 TUFTS

Ben Battle: After missing his junior season due to injury, Battle was back with a vengeance this year, racking up a 12-3 record in the doubles lineup (mainly with Zach Schaff). He had a great fall season before he got hurt, making deep runs at the Middlebury and Bates tournaments, knocking off Kai Yuen Leung (Skidmore) along the way. Battle also scored fall wins during his sophomore season against Palmer Campbell (Midd) and Gil Roddy (Bowdoin). One of Tufts’ three tri-captains, I know Battle’s injury took a serious toll on his career, and to see him perform so well after coming back from that injury made him easy to root for, especially given how much time he spent studying. You don’t get named an ITA Scholar Athlete for nothing. His infectious smile and perseverance will be missed around Medford.

Austin Bendetson: According to the ITA website, Muscles Bendetson hasn’t lost a match since his freshman year! Another Andover product, Bendetson has been a part of the Jumbo squad for four years, and his leadership was rewarded when he was named one of the tri-captains for last year’s squad. Austin won his lone singles match this year, when the senior took down fellow senior Devin White (Hamilton) in straight sets. AB also won both his doubles matches as a senior, with neither match coming closer than an 8-3 decision.

Kevin Kelly: K^2 didn’t play all that much during his first two years on the team, although he did log a big win as a freshman at Pomona Pitzer. Kelly’s biggest on-the-court contributions came during his junior and senior seasons when he went a combined 12-5 in dual matches, including an astounding 7-0 in dual matches his junior year. Though he didn’t go undefeated his senior season, his wins came against better teams including big three-set wins against PP (again) and Amherst, and was named an ITA Scholar Athlete. Pizza from Dewick (unofficial team sponsor) and The Blog congratulate Ben, Austin, and Kevin!

#8 AMHERST

Andrew Arnaboldi: Co-captain and arguably the heart of this Amherst squad, Lil’ Anraboldi played in the lineup every year while at Amherst, amassing a 24-9 singles record over the four year. His biggest win was a clincher against Hopkins back in the fall of 2014, but he also notched wins over Williams, Middlebury, and CMU during his sophomore year. However, where we saw the most improvement from Andrew was on the doubles court. While nothing will ever top him playing with his older brother during his freshman season, we saw Andrew come into his own as a doubles player during his senior spring. Paired mainly with freshman Nathan Kaplan, Boldi went 11-1 in dubs as a senior, including wins over Middlebury, Wesleyan, and THREE WINS OVER RIVAL WILLIAMS IN BARELY MORE THAN TWO WEEKS. While the Mammoths couldn’t get past the Ephs at NESCACs or at NCAAs, it wasn’t because of Arnaboldi.

Sam Silver: While Silver didn’t see quite as much playing time as Arnaboldi, he did manage an astounding 20-2 singles record during his four years at Amherst. You know you’re on a deep team when you post 20-2 and still are on the outside of the main lineup. In addition, Sam went 10-0 in doubles during his senior season, playing at all three spots and with a variety of partners. He was 3-0 in NESCAC play as a senior, which as far as winning percentage goes, is about as good as you can do. Silver was also captained the team with Arnaboldi, and led the Mammoths back to NCAAs after a year away. A member of the ITA Scholar athletic team, Sam’s leadership will be missed.

Myles Tang: Tang didn’t see too much action over his last couple years; however, he posted a 10-4 singles record for his career, including a win at #6 against Redlands during his freshman year, and wins over big name guys like Jay Glickman (Tufts) and Sam King (Bowdoin) during his freshman fall. Like Silver, Tang was also unblemished in NESCAC play, going 3-0 for his career in conference dual matches. Myles was another ITA Scholar Athlete, which shouldn’t be surprising for a team that had 13 of them in 2017. Very impressive stuff from Tang and Amherst.

Anton Zykov: The most heralded member of Amherst’s senior class, Zykov’s sophomore and junior years were probably his best as an individual. He ended his junior year as the 27th ranked player in the country and 8th ranked player in the region. Digging a little deeper, we know that Anton’s career was riddled with injuries. However, that didn’t stop the ITA Scholar athlete from totaling a ton of wins through his career. He was 31-9 in doubles matches against ranked teams, and ended his sophomore season with 11 straight doubles wins, 10 against ranked teams, eight against ranked NESCAC teams! He also won his final 10 singles matches of the season, playing #3, including another ridiculous 7-0 agains ranked NESCAC teams. However, all that individual glory is all well and good, but let’s not forget that ANTON ZYKOV STARTED ON A NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP WINNING TEAM. How many other NE graduating seniors can say that? I can answer that question for you, the list starts and ends with Anton Zykov. Not only did he start, but he won the clinching match in the National Semifinals against Trinity TX (and future All-American Aaron Skinner) completing the comeback from the doubles sweep. Congrats to Andrew, Sam, Myles and Anton!

#7 WILLIAMS

Rohan Shastri: Shastri left Williams (and perhaps Williamstown for the first time!) with two end-of-year regional singles rankings in four years and three end-of-year regional doubles rankings, talk about local boy done good! He moved up the singles ladder every year, playing middle of the lineup his freshman year, up to #3 and some #2 his sophomore year, to a bonafide #2 his junior year, and was the Ephs’ top dawg during his senior spring. Rohan had some very impressive doubles seasons with Jose Raventos, including a remarkable 17-4 freshman season at #2 doubles, including 10 wins against ranked teams! Known for absolutely ROCKING a headband, Shastri will be sorely missed, and personally I think it would be awesome if he “came back home” to be the assistant coach this year.

Alex White: Like some others on this list, White did not get to play in many matches throughout his career. However, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, anybody who sticks with his craft for that long, especially while enduring such high-level academics, ought to be rewarded. Like Shastri, White is also from Williamstown, and was both a high school classmate and teammate of Rohan’s. Coach Greenberg has referred to White as “his right-hand man,” and White often helped his team by coaching during matches. Congrats to both hometown boys, and two more ITA-Scholar Athletes Rohan and Alex!

#5 WESLEYAN

Cam Hicks: Cali Cam spent most of his time on the doubles court over his career in Middletown, earning a 9-8 record in doubles against NESCAC opponents. As a freshman, Hicks, along with then partner Zach-O Brint, made the quarterfinals of the ITA in 2013 before falling Revzin and Solimano (who either won the tournament that year or the year after). Hicks also had a good tournament this past fall at the inaugural MIT event, where he and partner Princeton Carter beat a team from Tufts and a team from Bowdoin. While Cam didn’t get to play all that much singles, he did post a winning record against the NESCAC, going 2-1 in this three chances to vanquish conference foes.

Greg Lyon: Undoubtedly the “chillest” dude on the Wesleyan team, Lyon was also known more for his doubles prowess. The 2nd of the two California seniors, Greg played #1 doubles for basically all of his junior season, and also played on the top two teams for some of his freshman and sophomore years. His best doubles wins came during his junior season, when he and Brint took down the Bowdoin #1 team of Tercek and Trinka, and the Colby #1 team of Murad/Reid. Greg finished his career off right, winning his final three matches, all of which were against NESCAC opponents.

Michael Liu: First thing’s first, this is my favorite picture on this page. LOOK AT LIU’S FLOW! It’s stellar. No wonder he won so many matches of the course of his career. A singles record in four years of 51-27 is great work, but perhaps more amazing is that Liu never really played below #2 singles for the Cards. Michael played #1 as a sophomore and junior ending the seasons ranked 8th and 14th in the region respectively. Liu also finished his sophomore season ranked #26 in the country. Yet another ITA scholar athlete, Liu was a big Econ guy at school so hopefully he has found his way into the world of finance. If not, you’re always welcome to give blogging try? Liu should also be recognized for being the only senior captain last spring, and the one of the biggest leaders of this team. More on his doubles prowess below…

Jake Roberts: Roberts entered Middletown and made an immediate impact. He ended the year ranked #24 in the region, and earned wins over more experienced players like Matt Micheli (Williams) and Timmy Berg (Bates). As a sophomore, he played in the middle of the lineup and also took home some big wins against future #1 guys in Mikey Arguello (Brandeis) and Jordan Krasner (W&L). As a junior he was a lineup anchor, and ended the season winning seven of his final nine matches. As a senior, this ITA scholar athlete was back atop the lineup, just a different type of lineup. Though Jake had found success at the bottom of the doubles lineup in years past, he paired with fellow senior Michael Liu at the top spot this year. The duo won the MIT Invite, beating the Williams #1 team and two different teams from Middlebury along the way. The duo ended above .500 in dual matches at #1 dubs, a spot where Wesleyan has traditionally struggled. Finally, I want to congratulate all four seniors for what they did for this program. This group saw all stages of the meteoric rise from NESCAC challenger to a push for the top-20, to a top-10 season, to a ranking inside the top-5 and a berth in the National Quarterfinals! Congrats to Cam, Greg, Michael and Jake!

#4 BOWDOIN

NONE: The only team on this list without any graduating players, Bowdoin is locked, loaded, and ready to try and make a 3rd consecutive Final-Four appearance. More on the Polar Bears in my next article, but it remains a good time to be Bowdoin fan. Long live the Dancing Polar Bear!

#3 MIDDLEBURY

Hamid Derbani: The Moroccan Missile was one of the very best seniors in the region, playing for the very best teams in the region. In his limited time at Midd, all the Panthers did was finish top three in the country EVERY YEAR, and make two NCAA Finals appearances. Hamid and Palmer Campbell also made the national doubles final in 2016, and ended the year 1st in the region. As a senior, Hamid finished #16th in the region as a singles player, and notched wins over top competition like Daniel Morkovine (CMS), Kyle Wolfe (Bowdoin, 2x) and Adrien Bouchet (Emory). Derbani was 28-7 in singles over the past two years, playing anywhere between #1 and #5, pretty damn good for a guy better known for his doubles prowess. Derbani will go down as one of the better transfers Midd has gotten in recent memory, but for me the coolest moment was seeing him play against his brother’s GAC team in the NCAA quarterfinals last year.

Allen Jackson: Much has been made about Allen Jackson’s career at The Blog, mainly thanks to one commenter, but I cannot stress enough how important Jackson was to these past Middlebury teams, both on and off the court. While injuries derailed his career, he played more than capable #3 doubles and bottom of the singles lineup as a 5th year senior. He had big singles wins against Williams and Bowdoin this year, his dedication to the team and his rehab was special and should not go overlooked. I am positive he will be watching the Panthers closely this year, and you can bet he’ll try to get out to Claremont to watch Midd play for a title. Congrats to both Hamid and Allen, another two members of the ITA-All Academic Team!

 

And with that, we say goodbye to another crop of seniors, and hello to the 2017-2018 DIII tennis year! We are officially in the fall season now, which means you’ll be getting intro articles from most of the other writers over the next few days and weeks. Look out for a couple new writers, and as always please comment/tweet/email us with your questions/comments/concerns/heartfelt compliments.

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