This past Presidents week the Bates Bobcats were back in action on the tennis court as their Spring Tennis season came to a quick and successful start. On the first day of practice the Bobcats traveled to sunny Northern California to spend a few days practicing before playing the Banana Slugs of UC Santa Cruz. While the weekend practices were warm and sunny, Mondays match presented much chillier conditions. With little to no sun and temperatures in the 40s, both the Women and the Men played matches in familiar conditions to that of their fall Competition in Maine. The Women started the day with a hard fought 7-2 loss. After some tough doubles, the Bobcats found themselves down 3-0 to the Banana Slugs. In singles, the Bobcats fought hard, nearly squeezing out three points against the 7th regionally ranked Banana Slugs. Senior Ashley Brunk was the first to win at four singles, after dropping the first set, she broke quickly in the second and never looked back, winning over Courtney Lynbarner 3-6, 6-2, 10-2. Sophomore Audrey Grauer also won at six singles steamrolling her opponent Suzanne Lipscomb 6-0, 6-1. Finally, in the last match off Sophomore Ellie Mandzhakova took her opponent Ariana Mokhtari all the way to the third set breaker and fought off several match points before falling 7-6, 0-6, 9-11 at first singles.
Next up were the Men who were playing the 8th ranked UCSC men. The Bobcats started hot going up 2-1 after doubles. The first match off was second doubles, Sophomore Pierre Planche and Junior Timmy Berg rattled off six straight games to come back from 5-2 down to win 8-5 against the pairing of Max Littlejohn and Brice Bettwy. Second off was three doubles, the Junior team of Peter Yanofsky and Ben Bogard lost 9-7 after fighting off two match points and even breaking back to 7-7 before falling to UCSC’s Chris Croete and Andre Halabi. Last but certainly not least, was the two hour epic between the senior All Americans Rob Crampton and Matt Bettles, and the UCSC pairing of Erich Koenig and Eli Scandalis at one doubles. After trading breaks in dramatic fashion at the end of the eight game set, Crampton and Bettles rode a 5 point streak in the tiebreaker to a 9-8 (7-5) victory. Singles proved rocky for the Bobcats as all three of the top spots dropped their matches in straight sets. However, four and five singles proved to be some of the best matches of the day. At singles, both Pierre Planche and his opponent Sam Rogers fought off match points in the third set and the third hour of play with Planche prevailing 6-7, 7-5, 7-6. Meanwhile, the clinching match for the Banana Slugs came out of the 3 hour epic in which sophomore Henry Lee of Bates fell to Eli Scandalis 6-7, 7-5, 6-3. Lee down 3-0 in the third set showed grit coming back to 3-2 but after some bad luck during his own service gave back the break and eventually the match for the clinching point concluding five hours battling between the two teams.
With their day off and a consistent drizzle keeping the Bobcats off of the practice courts, the teams traveled back up to the San Francisco area to visit the Muir Woods, among the large redwoods the Bates teams were able to get some much needed down time and meditation before their coming competition. Having got to see some sights on Tuesday in Northern California the Women were ready for their match against the Occidental Tigers on Wednesday. After a short flight down the coast the Bobcats began play at 3pm amidst hurricane-like winds and a blinding sunset just outside of LA. While the Tigers provided as much of a challenge as the strong gusts, the Bobcats took a 3-0 lead after doubles as the number one pairing of Ellie and Ashley closed out the point with a back and forth 9-7 win over Anna Oparison and Kelan Eriksen. Taking advantage of the momentum, five of the six singles positions for the Bobcats won their matches in straight sets. Down 3-0 early in the first set Ellie easily beat Anna Oparison at one singles. Seniors Ashley Brunk, Nicole Russell, and Sophomore Audrey Grauer easily closed out their opponents before the sun even had set. Meanwhile, after taking the first sets Senior Jacqui Holmes and Junior Lucy Brennan became involved in long dogfights with their opponents, Kelan Eriksen and Sara Charney, respectively. Down a break in the second set, Lucy fought back but came up short forcing a deciding ten point tiebreaker. This proved to be one of the most exciting points in the match with Lucy falling just short at 13-11 to the streaking Charney. Just after the finish of Lucy’s match, Jacqui showed amazing composure serving out Erickson for the 6-4, 7-5 win.
The next day, the men matched up against the 10th ranked Pomona Pitzer. Having travelled down to the Claremont schools from LA, the Bobcats enjoyed early hits in the warm weather and nice courts before their evening match under the lights. Arriving in a great mode the Bobcats once again took two of three doubles. While Ben and Peter had trouble with the pairing of Connor Hudson and Thomas Low losing 8-4, the top two pairings of Timmy and Pierre, and Rob and Matt cruised to solid victories over Pomona’s top two teams of Kevin Wei and Chris Wiechert, and Frankie Allison and Max Sabel respectively. Capitalizing on the 2-1 lead Pierre Planche was the first off with a 7-6 (6) 6-2 win over Frankie Allinson at four singles. Planche was down 6-4 in the first set breaker, but reeled off three straight points and then cruised through the second set for the win. Matt finished shortly after extending the lead to 4-1 with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Max Sabel at two singles. However, Pomona would strike back soon after with victories at five and six singles with Kevin Prescott and Thomas Low defeating Henry Lee and Dylan Reffe respectively, in hard fought straight sets. With the score at 4-3, Timmy Berg and Rob Crampton both entered third sets. After breaking in the 5th game Timmy never looked back completing his 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 victory over Connor Hudson and solidifying Bates’ 5-3 win over Pomona. Rob would take a little longer to win his third set as he beat Max Sabel in the 3rd set tiebreaker to extend the win to 6-3.
On Friday, the Bobcats once again had a well-deserved day off. In their free time the Bobcats travelled down to San Diego to watch Matt Bettles’ younger brother, sophomore Andrew play one for the Division One Boise State Broncos. While Andrew would win both his doubles and singles matches, the 39rd ranked Broncos fell 5-2 to the 26th ranked University of San Diego. On the way back to Claremont the Bobcats had the pleasure of stopping at Emma Mattson’s house at Dana Point for a delicious dinner. The good food and hospitality recharged the team after a long but good week for the upcoming matches against CMS the next day.
On Saturday the Men started off the action at 9am. The Bobcats faced a tough challenge in the 5th ranked CMS Men’s team. For the first time this season the Bobcats lost 2 out of three doubles. After going back and forth throughout the match, Rob and Matt conceded first doubles 8-6 to Warren Wood and Joe Dorn. The Bobcats would go down 2-0 as a late break Peter Yanofsky and Ben Bogard would not be enough in a 8-5 loss to Skyler Butts and Neel Kotrappa. However, at second doubles the Bobcats pulled off a thriller defeating Alex Lane and Nikolas Marino 9-8 (7). Berg and Planche overcame several late set breaks to pull of the tight tiebreaker and keep Bates in the Hunt. The Bobcats started singles strong with early breaks on 5 of six courts. Unfortunately the success would be short lived as despite a hard fight the Bobcats would only win at two singles. Matt Bettles would account for the only other win as he would defeat Joe Dorn 6-4, 7-5. At three singles Timmy Berg also came close, falling in a closely contested third set tiebreaker to Nikolas Marino 2-6, 6-4, 10-8.
Following the Men’s match the 28th ranked women took the court against the 8th ranked CMS women. CMS started strong as the Bobcats struggled to keep up in doubles. Building on their momentum CMS cruised taking all three doubles points. In singles the Bobcats fought hard staying on the court for more than two hours despite some lopsided scores. At four singles Ashley Brunk nearly forced a third set. Serving up a break at 5-2 over Caroline Ward Ashley played tough tennis barely falling 6-2, 7-5 for the final point in the 9-0 loss.
The Bobcats are back in action tomorrow, Saturday March 2, as the women will take on Mount Holyoke at 12pm at the Merrill Gymnasium at Bates College.