Archive for May 23rd, 2009

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

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