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/.

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