Boys’ tennis journeyed to Andover on this Saturday morning, hoping to recapture some of the success we found in our 6-1 victory at home last year. Of course, these are two very different teams than met in 2015 – Andover’s squad augmented by former Exeter #1 Brian Niguidula as well as three-star Anupreeth Coramutla, and our crew having lost three starters to graduation – but we looked forward to a good battle nonetheless. Morning rain throughout Essex County delayed our start by almost 90 minutes, and coaches Speer and Holley (filling in for Coach Wilkin, who launched Speer’s career two years ago, and whose weekend schedule included a professional development opportunity that was too good to pass up) decided to play singles first in the interest of time.
All six singles matches were able to go out at nearly the same time, and Andover quickly got on the board when Harvard-bound Chris Kralik (who played #2 for PA’s Speer-assisted 2014 championship team) skunked Darren at #3. Matthew, again fighting through back pain, dropped a quick first set to Denholm at #4 before fighting to 5-5 in the second. He rushed the net repeatedly, trying to keep points short, but Denholm was too good in the end, putting Andover up 2-0.
Gideon was no match for the veteran Shen at #6, managing a few games but never gaining sustained momentum. The victory put Andover one match from the clinch, but we had a bit left in the tank.
At #2, Scott played the match of the year against Niguidula, jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the first and holding his own as Brian came roaring back. The two played batches of marathon points, each with terrific defense quickly turning to offense, and in the end, after nearly two games’ worth of match points, Scott walked off the court with a win. It was a truly inspiring effort that kept us alive 3-1, with Carl and Alfi still on court.
Carl did not back down at all against the powerful Coramutla, as the two crushed groundstrokes back and forth. The first two sets were a bit of a blur, but Carl took the second after losing a close first. New Balls, Please! At 2-3 in the third, Coramutla saw an opening, and like all great players do, he capitalized on it. Carl, unable to break back, went down 6-4 as Andover clinched the victory.
Alfi was still on court, having traded 6-4 sets with the Princeton-bound Jow, and an extremely close final set (including two instances of consecutive breaks) went to a tiebreaker – which squeaked along to a 5-5 score before Jow closed it out.
There is no doubt that Andover is one of the teams (and perhaps THE team) to beat in Class A this year. However, we were literally a handful of points away from a singles split today, and that will motivate us should we find ourselves matched up against them in the tournament. For now, we look to even our record with a home tilt against NMH this Wednesday, before enjoying a weekend off. Thanks to the Grants for the snacks and support today, and to the PA grounds crew (and Mr. Grant) for helping dry the courts.
As always, follow us on Twitter @deerfieldtennis for live match updates, or on Instagram (deerfieldboystennis) for funny pictures and inside-joke hashtags.
Andover 5, Deerfield 1
Anupreeth Coramutla (A) d. Carl Grant (D) 6-4, 5-7, 6-4
Scott Danforth (D) d. Brian Niguidula (A) 6-4, 6-4
Chris Kralik (A) d. Darren Ho (D) 6-0, 6-0
Chase Denholm (A) d. Matthew Wuyan (D) 6-1, 7-5
Jonathan Jow (A) d. Alfi Auersperg (D) 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (5)
Tyler Shen (A) d. Gideon Yektai (D) 6-2, 6-1