Archive for May, 2009

29
May
09

Rupa bears down to close out wash u in semis

It has not been easy for any of us to go through the drama Stein has caused with his singles matches over the three-day tournament, but it has been especially hard for Amrit. He wants his teammate to win as much as anyone, but he also has to keep his focus as he watches tennis all day knowing it is he who will have to step up big in the doubles the more fatigued Ben becomes after every match. The rubber match against the Washington University pair of Hoeland and Cutler would be the time for Rupa to shine.

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This would be the third and deciding match between these two teams. The Cats won in last spring’s NCAA Quarterfinal, then the Bears got revenge in the third place match at the Small College National Tournament this past fall in Mobile, AL. With Stein having just come off a heartbreaking loss in the singles final, Rupa knew he would have to carry the Cats emotionally. Ben would obviously give all he had, but it would be Amrit who would have to bring the emotional energy. Both teams started very solid, as they traded breaks and ended up in a tiebreak. The Cats would come out on top, which was big for them to start out on a positive note.

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The second set would not go as hoped, with the Cats struggling to keep their energy up. The Bears stepped up their play and the Cats lost some of their intensity as Wash U took the second set. It was down to one final set, either the duo of Stein and Rupasinghe would end their careers here, or they would continue the amazing Bates run into the final. It would be Amrit who would have the final say. It seemed to be a rather routine set until 4-4, when Rupa, having not returned well much of the match, hit several amazing returns. He then attacked beautifully off of very solid returns from Stein, giving the Cats the much-needed break. It was then up to Rupa to serve out the biggest match of their careers. They quickly got up 40-0 after three huge serves, and then the Bears came back with two good returns. At 40-30, Amrit reached back and hit one of the biggest serves of his life as the return sailed wide giving the Cats the three set victory.

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An hour later, it would be their biggest rivals from Bowdoin waiting for them in the finals. Having lost to the Polar Bears in the regular season, there was no other team Ben and Amrit would rather face for the National Championship. 

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29
May
09

stein battles for singles crown

Stein awoke early Sunday morning just as he had every day since we have been out in California. He had an unbelievable opportunity ahead of him on Sunday, the chance to play in both the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championship match. Sunday would turn out to be one of the greatest days in Bates Tennis history, and for that reason it is necessary to tell the story of each match individually, rather than a collective whole.

The NCAA Singles Championship was first up for Stein. The match started at high noon against one of the most decorated division 3 tennis players of all time, fellow senior Michael Goodwin of Emory University. Goodwin has received numerous All-American awards in both singles and doubles, has won a team national title, but has never won an individual national championship. It was not going to be easy for Stein going against such an amazing shot maker as Goodwin, but Ben had found a way to victory in the previous four grueling matches and expected this day to be no different.

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With the TV cameras rolling, the newspaper photographers snapping their cameras, Stein served up the first point of the match. The first set was back and forth, both players serving bombs and then attacking off of the forehand side. Late in the set, Ben had a set point, but Goodwin served an ace to get himself out of trouble. He would then go on to break Ben to win the first set. It was a highly entertaining and well-played first set; the fans expected more of the same in the second.

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Both guys traded blows throughout the second, with Goodwin eventually getting the break of serve. It looked as though Stein was done for; his magical run had come to an end when Goodwin stepped to the line to serve it out for the championship at 5-4. That was when Stein showed the grit and fight he displayed all tournament, the heart that had drawn so many of the spectators to root for him over the three days, and the toughness that should make anyone associated with Bates proud. He returned big serves with even bigger returns, ran down every ball and allowed Goodwin to feel the nerves as he struck a forehand long to lose the game. Stein would then go on to win the next two games in convincing fashion to take the second set. We were headed to third and final set to decide the national championship, what more could we have asked for.

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The third set started as we hoped, an easy hold for Stein. It was then that Goodwin showed exactly what has made him such a great player. He started to rip winners from all angles of the court, painting lines and drawing oohs and awes from the crowd. The fatigue finally caught up to Ben, as his serve did not have the pop it normally did. His right arm and legs had been pushed to the limit, as this was his 7th match in less than three days. It would be the Emory Eagle’s day, winning 6-1 in the third set. It would have been easy for Ben to go down in the second set after losing such a close first set and knowing he had a doubles match to follow, but this was a player determined to leave it all out on the court. His amazing three-day run in singles was finished, but not without a glance back at some incredible matches.

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Friday- Stein defeated Erani of host Claremont Mudd Scripps, coming out strong early to win the first, only to let nerves set in and lose the second set. Regaining his form in the third set he went on to victory earning him his first All-American honor in singles.

He then defeated Boren of Emory in a physically exhausting two set match. Battling cramps throughout the second set, he found a way to will himself to victory meaning he was one of the top eight players in the country.

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Saturday- First up was one of the hottest players from the first day of competition, Wang from Johns Hopkins. After struggling to get going in the first set, he finally started playing the tennis we expected in the second but still found himself down a match point. On a second serve, he served and volleyed winning an amazing point to keep him in the match. He would eventually win the tiebreak to take the second set and also break the spirit of his opponent winning the third set in convincing fashion.

In the semi-finals Ben would find his toughest test so far, the #1 player in the country, Kauss from Gustavus Adolphus. Stein executed the game plan perfectly, dictating with his serve and forehand, getting to net putting pressure on his opponent to make tough passes. He would win two hotly contested sets to move him into the finals against Goodwin.

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For most people this would be a dream come true just to do this well in singles, but as Ben moved through the singles draw, he was equaling it in the doubles, which makes his story even more incredible.

24
May
09

The journey continues

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The Cats couldn’t have asked for a better first day at the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships, but they went to sleep knowing day two would be just as tough as the first. Ben would have to win three matches on Saturday to make it to Sunday after playing three grueling matches on Friday. Up first would be Andrew Wang from Johns Hopkins who upset #8 seed Lerner from Amherst in the first round and then defeated Cutler from Wash U in the round of 16. Ben started off slow, having trouble getting his sore legs going. Throughout the first set Wang was painting the lines and forcing Ben to move all over the court as he took the first set 6-2.

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Stein played much better during the second set, and finally found a way to break and go up 4-3. The next game seemed to fly by as Ben had a few unforced errors and gave the break right back to make it 4-4, then Wang held to go up 5-4. There are certain moments in big matches where if a player is going to survive and advance, he or she has to find a way to make a play. For Ben, this would come as he served at 30-40 on his second serve. Down match point Ben served and volleyed on the second serve, picked up a very low volley and then closed the net to put away the next volley. He would then go onto hold and eventually go into a tiebreak for the second set. Down 2-4 in the breaker, Ben mounted his comeback by dictating with his serve and hitting huge inside out forehands to win the tiebreak 7-5. The third set would go quickly for Ben as Wang had a hard time coming back after not closing it out when he had his chances, the final score being 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-0. After four matches in a day and a half, Ben needed all the time off he could get before playing the #1 seed John Kauss from Gustavus Adolphus.

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In the semifinals Stein executed the game plan perfectly, stayed mentally strong on big points, and showed his grit and fight as he beat the best player in the nation 7-5, 7-5. He got key breaks late in the sets and hit huge serves to close out the match. So into the NCAA Singles Finals Stein went, but before he could celebrate his accomplishment it was time to play the quarterfinals of the doubles with Amrit.

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Ahead of them was the #1 team from Kenyon with last years singles champion, Michael Greenberg as part of the duo. Through a back and forth first set the Cats battled and finally found a way to break and go up 5-4. The Kenyon Lords played a great return game to get the break back and then held for a 6-5 lead. At 30-30 on Ben’s service game, both Cats were at the net and it looked as though Kenyon had an easy put away, but the ball tipped off net and gave Ben a chance to run it down. Even though he didn’t see where it went, Amrit yelled at Stein to run back because he realized the ball had not been put away, Ben turned and ran finally finding the ball and getting it back. On the next shot Amrit crossed and put the ball away for a winner. I mentioned earlier about making plays, and this was certainly one of the biggest and best this team has made. They eventually went into a tiebreak which the Cats dominated, and then they kept the heat on in the second to win it 6-2.

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After another long day of tennis it was time to recharge with a hearty Italian meal with the Steins. It was nice to celebrate the accomplishments of the day, but after dinner it was time to refocus on what we are here to do. Another three matches down for the Cats, another three to go on the tournament’s final day. Stein will go against fellow senior Goodwin from Emory University at 3pm EST, then Stein and Rupa will face off against Cutler and Hoeland of Wash U sometime after the singles. You can follow both matches on the Internet at http://www.radiotennis.com/.

23
May
09

an all-american day in cali

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It was quite the trip to get here from Maine, and I’m not just talking about the eight hours spent on a plane on Wednesday. Playing in the Men’s NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships has been the goal for Ben and Amrit since their success last year at this same tournament. They dedicated themselves to working harder than they ever have, and after the success of today, it seems it was worth it.

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Stein, playing for the first time in the singles competition, drew Robbie Erani, the number two player from host school Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. Ben got out to a quick start winning the first set 6-1, but had trouble in the second set as his opponent became more consistent. So it was down to a third and final set to see who would advance to the round of 16. Stein went back on the attack early in the third to get the break. Then, while up 3-1 serving, he went down love-40. This was the defining game of the match, as Stein dug deep and pulled his way out of the hole to go up 4-1. Having just pulled out a huge hold the service game before, Stein served his way out of another hole when down love-30.  That put him up 5-2 and he would eventually close out the match with a break to move onto the next round, 6-1, 2-6, 6-2. Winning this match means Ben has now received All-American honors for the second year in a row.

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On a hot, Southern California day the two-hour break in between matches seemed pretty short for Ben. As the tournament moved into the early afternoon, Mark Boren from Emory was next for Stein. Boren has plenty of big match experience, playing for an Emory team that has never finished lower than third in the team tournament all four years of his career. Stein knew if he played his attacking style of tennis he could be successful against the athletic Boren. Stein went up 5-2 early and was able to hold on for a 6-4 win in the first set. That’s when things got a little bit tougher, the long first round match caught up to Stein and he started to have some mild leg cramps. With the trainers doing a great job of keeping him loose during changeovers Stein found himself up a break at 4-3. He then played a game with a few too many errors to lose his serve, but showed what kind of fighter he is by breaking right back to go up 5-4. He then played one of the biggest service games of his career, winning it at love to move into the quarterfinals of singles championships.

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For most people two long matches would be enough tennis for one day, but not for Ben. It was time to step on the court for the round of 16 doubles, where Amrit would join him to take on the #2 seeds from UC Santa Cruz. The Banana Slugs of UCSC were fresh off of a victory in yesterday’s team national championship match, and their doubles team had not lost in the team competition. It took the Cats a little while to get going, but once they did it was time to watch out. They lost the first set 6-3, and it looked as though Santa Cruz would have a routine victory having not struggled to hold until the Cats duo stepped up to hit some huge returns at 4-3 to get the break. They followed it up with a very solid service game on Stein’s serve to win the second set.

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Finally the energy and fire were there for the guys and with that intensity they are pretty much unstoppable. They broke in the first game only to give it back when serving up 3-2. At 3-3, they played some of the best tennis of the season. They broke serve, then Amrit hit huge serves to hold to go up 5-3. At 5-3, Amrit ripped a backhand winner on the return, then Stein hit a crafty forehand slice return winner to make it love-30. Amrit crushed another return to give Bates match points and after a short rally the Santa Cruz volley sailed wide giving Ben and Amrit the win. Moving into the quarterfinals of doubles means Stein received All-American honors for the second time in one day, and for Amrit this is his second straight year becoming an All-American.

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All in all, we couldn’t have asked for a better day. The Cats accomplished great things today, but they also realized we have more business to take care of. Stein will resume singles play at 9am Pacific time tomorrow, and the doubles will take place later in the afternoon. Ben and Amrit would like to thank all of you who are following along and giving them support.  You can keep up with live scoring at the tournament website: http://www.cmsathletics.org/tournament/tennis/index

19
May
09

short term with the cats

Most of the students here at Bates are now enjoying what is called Short Term. The Bates website describes it as this: Short Term provides an unusual opportunity for a variety of educational programs, frequently off campus, that cannot be offered in the regular semesters. These include marine biological studies at stations on the coast of Maine; geology fieldwork in the American Southwest, Hawaii, Canada, and Scotland; and art, theater, and music studies in New York City and Europe. The spring term allows time for archeological investigations by students in history and anthropology; field projects for students in economics, sociology, and psychology; and social-service internships associated with academic departments and programs. It provides special opportunities, on and off campus, for those carrying out laboratory experiments in the natural sciences.

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With most students having a little more time on their hands, they find all sorts of things to get into. Many of the Cats are getting to spend some time on the tennis courts at the Wallach Center now that they weather is great. A couple of the guys are helping get Ben and Amrit ready for nationals. But tennis isn’t all the Cats do now that Short Term is here. Last week, Sam, Caryn, Sherman, and Max traveled out to Sabattus, ME to do a little disc golfing. If you are unfamiliar with the game, it is scored just like regular golf, but you throw a disc into a basket rather than hitting a ball into a hole. It is a little easier to master than regular golf, and the dress code is a much more lenient. It was a nice sunny afternoon out on the course, and everyone had a great time seeing how far these discs would fly. After 18 holes, Sam left the winner with Max and Sherman behind him. Caryn finished fourth, but played great for her first time out.

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As anyone on the team would tell you, being apart of Bates Tennis isn’t all about tennis, traveling to matches, and trying to find the best local restaurant, it’s mainly about spending time and having fun with your friends. Now that Short Term is in full force, there is certainly more time for fun. 

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19
May
09

meet the bobcats-ben stein

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1. Where are you from and where did you go to high school?   

Pelham New York, Pelham High School

2. What is your major and what was your favorite class you took at Bates?

History, favorite class was The Binding of Isaac taught by Professor Caspi

3. What are your plans for after graduation?

Post Graduation plans are tbd, hopefully I will be in NYC

4. What was your favorite memory of this season?

Coming from behind to beat Spencer Feldman from Trinity 7-5 in the third set.

5. What was your most memorable match of your career?

Most Memorable match is probably Amrit and my doubles win over Wash U in the National 
Quarterfinals last year

6. Any advice to the teammates you are leaving behind at Bates?

Work Hard–Luck is the residue of hard work

7. What is the song getting the most play time on your ipod right now?

Kid Cudi–Embrace the Marshan

8. What is your favorite Commons meal?

General Tsao’s Chicken, its delicious

9. What will you miss most about being on the Bates Tennis team?

The long trips to away matches, that is where most of the team bonding takes place

10. Describe your Bates experience in one sentence or less?

It was money

18
May
09

meet the bobcats-caryn benisch

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1. Where are you from and where did you go to high school?

I’m from Long Island, NY and went to Huntington High School.

2. What is your major and what was your favorite class you took at Bates?

My major is Political Science, and my favorite class I’ve taken at Bates was Ethnicity and Conflict with Professor Richter.

3. What are your plans for after graduation?

After graduation I’m hoping to be employed with the Federal Bureau of Investigation,  however this is top secret information. If this doesn’t work out, I will likely become  assistant to the Head Tennis Pro of the Huntington Country Club, fellow classmate Mike Sherman.

4. What was your favorite memory of this season?

My favorite memory of this season was definitely yelling down 3 courts at the top of my lungs at Sherman to cheer louder during our mixed doubles tournament in Tampa, Florida.

5. What was your most memorable match of your career?

The most memorable match of my career was my sophomore year, playing Bowdoin’s number 1, Kristen Raymond, at home and beating her 6-4, 6-4.  It always feels good to kick a little polar bear butt.

6. Any advice to the teammates you are leaving behind at Bates?

For my beloved teammates I will leave behind, never forget the hard work you’ve put in this year and how much you’ve improved. Remember this to pick up where we left off this season. Always remember to fight your hardest, look down the courts and fight for each other and, of course, have fun. I love you all and will miss you more than I can say. Thank you for making my last year at Bates one I will NEVER forget!

7. What is the song getting the most play time on your ipod right now?

The song getting the most play on my ipod right now would have to be “Lights and Music” by Cut Copy.

8. What is your favorite Commons meal?

My favorite Commons meal is a bowl of Kashi and yogurt- always available, always delicious. (Organic peanut butter and banana come in a close second)

9. What will you miss most about being on the Bates Tennis team?

Without a doubt I will miss the amazing chemistry between the women’s and men’s teams and all of the moments we get to share together. You all have made Bates all the more special and I am sure that life will not be the same without such a large support system who I am lucky to have as teammates, and more importantly, friends.

10. Describe your Bates experience in one sentence or less?

My Bates experience can be summed up as follows: Exciting and fulfilling times with unbelievably special people, though incredibly difficult at times, all the more rewarding because of the people I have gotten to share my life here at Bates with.