After two straight weekends with NESCAC matches on both Saturday and Sunday, Amherst’s men’s and women’s tennis teams got a little bit of a break this past weekend. Though the games were out-of-conference, there was still much at stake, and the teams picked up a pair of solid wins. The No. 9 women’s team beat No. 4 Emory University 6-3 on Friday, April 15, in Amherst. The next day, April 16, the No. 18 men’s team hosted Skidmore College, and battled to a 5-4 win.
The women’s matchup with Emory was set up to be a thriller, bringing together two of the top 10 teams in the nation, and Friday’s events did not disappoint. The match began with three doubles matches, and the Mammoths began their upset bid early. While their top pairing, Jackie Bukzin ’22 and Julia Lendel ’24, lost their matchup 8-5, Deliala Friedman ’25 and Mia Kintiroglou ’25, at the number-two spot, got the Mammoths back on track. They claimed a narrow victory, winning in a tie-breaker. The third duo, Amy Cui ’25 and Anya Ramras ’22, captured their match 8-6, giving the Mammoths a 2-1 lead heading into the singles matches.
Amherst began singles play on the back foot, with the Eagles winning four of six first sets. But in the face of adversity, the Mammoths excelled at the top and bottom of the ladder. At No. 1, Bukzin won the first set 6-1 before denying her opponent a single game in the second. At No. 6, Ramras won a tight first set 7-5 before following Bukzin’s example with a 6-0 second set of her own. In the middle of the ladder, first-set losses proved to be too much to overcome for Lendel and Calista Sha ’23. Lendel lost 6-1, 6-2, and Sha lost both sets 6-4. The overall score sat at 4-3, with Amherst in the lead, setting up a dramatic finish.
This left the match in the hands of the two first-years, Cui at No. 2 and Friedman at No. 5. After losing lopsided first sets, both players quickly balanced the scales with 6-3 and 6-1 second set victories respectively. With their teammates watching on, both players outlasted the visitors from down south in the third set. Friedman won her set 6-2, for a 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 win. Cui fought her way to victory, ultimately winning 2-6, 6-3, 6-4. The two wins ensured the Mammoths a 6-3 overall victory in their biggest match of the season — with the win, they improved to 7-5 on the year.
The men were the clear favorites heading into the matchup with the unranked Thoroughbreds on the following day, but Skidmore played them close from the beginning of the matchup. In doubles play, Amherst’s top duo, Damien Ruparel ’22 and Sujit Chepuri ’25, went to a tiebreaker in the first of the eight-game matches. In the tiebreaker, played to seven points, the pair failed to win a single point. At the number-two spot, Harris Foulkes ’22 and Edred Opie ’25 were able to right the ship with an 8-5 win, and the Mammoths continued their momentum through the third match. Kobe Ellenbogen ’25 and Micah Elias ’24 won a lopsided affair 8-3, so the Mammoths headed into the second half of the contest — six singles matches — up 2-1.
Ten minutes into singles play, the men faced their main obstacle of the weekend: rain began to fall. To keep the matchup alive, the teams moved to Hampshire College, continuing the matches indoors at the Bay Road Tennis Center. Only four courts were available on such short notice, so the bottom two slots of the ladder were forced to wait until play finished on the top four courts. With the change in scenery, the Mammoths’ advantage began to slip away. Playing at the top of the ladder, Ruparel lost a close first set in a tiebreaker before dropping the second 6-4. Foulkes continued his momentum from doubles play, dispatching his opponent 6-2, 6-3 at No. 2. The Mammoths struggled at the three and four spots, though. Opie lost in two sets, winning just four games, and Chepuri lost 6-3, 6-4. Following the top four matchups, the Mammoths found themselves down 4-3 overall. Skidmore needed just one win from the last two matchups to claim victory.
But, with the match on the line, the other courts clearing, and their teammates looking on, Amherst’s number five and six players showed out. Ellenbogen, at five, and Willie Turchetta ’22, at six, both won their first sets 6-4. With the tide flowing back toward the Mammoths, the two players shut the door. Ellenbogen won his second set 6-2 to tie the matchup. Turchetta finished his opponent off with an emphatic 6-1 win to seal the victory. The Mammoths took the overall contest 5-4, and improved to 7-6 on the season with the well-earned win.
Both teams will return to two-matches-per-week NESCAC competition with a two-match homestand this upcoming week. They face Trinity on Wednesday, April 20, at 4 p.m., before getting a visit from Hamilton on Saturday, April 23.
Correction, April 20, 2022: A previous version of this article stated that the Bukzin/Lendel won their doubles match while the Cui/Ramras pairing lost. The opposite is true: Bukzin and Lendel lost, and Cui and Ramras won.