Tennis closes out fall season with strong showing at Bates

Sophomore Zach Shaff prepares for a forehand during a double competition at the MIT Invitational on Oct. 17. (Angelie Xiong / The Tufts Daily)

The Tufts men’s tennis team traveled to Lewiston, Maine this past weekend for their final matches of the fall season. The Wallach Invitational was hosted by Bates College and featured eight schools playing on Saturday and Sunday. Tufts competed against Amherst, Bates, Bowdoin, Brandeis, Colby, Trinity and Wheaton.

The invitational was broken into six flights, A, B, C and D singles, and A and B doubles. The Jumbos came out of the weekend winning three of the six brackets, two singles titles and a doubles title. First-years Boris Sorkin and Carl-Herman Grant won singles titles in the B and D divisions respectively, while Sorkin and sophomore Ethan Bershtein teamed up to win the B doubles bracket.

Sorkin was dominant in his run to the finals with every victory coming in straight sets. His toughest test came in the finals against sophomore David Aizenberg of Brandeis, but even this match was comfortable for Sorkin, capturing the title with a 6–4, 6–4 win.

The same could be said about Grant in the D division, advancing easily to the semifinal then mowing through two Bowdoin opponents in the semifinals and finals 6–3, 6–2 and 6–2, 6–4 respectively.

The Wallach Invitational was the last chance for the team to get prepared for the spring with match play.

“The Bates invite was our last event of the year and we felt our results thus far hadn’t been representative of the type of team we are capable of being,” senior Zain Ali said. “By winning half the flights this weekend we have proven that we are a force to be reckoned with.”

The most notable result from the weekend was the strong play of the underclassmen. The first-years have yet to play a spring season at the collegiate level but have already proven that they can be successful against some of the best teams in the NESCAC.

“[Grant and Sorkin] have both been off to extremely hot starts,” sophomore Zach Shaff said. “Carl hits an extremely heavy ball, has a massive serve and has great volleys which really helps our team from a doubles perspective. The amazing part about Boris is that he not only had to adjust to college tennis but also to life in the U.S after going to school in Spain. He is a pretty fearless kid and … has already proven he is one of the better players in the NESCAC.”

In addition to getting a tune-up on the court throughout the fall, the goal of the fall season is to establish a culture and build chemistry that will prove to be very important in the offseason. The tone is set by a new group of seniors and the returning players are responsible for implementing the first-years and making them an integral part of the unit.

Senior Rohan Gupte acknowledged the importance of the fall for building team chemistry.

“The fall is always interesting too because our team sees how the culture changes without last year’s seniors and the addition of incoming freshmen,” Gupte said. “Even though it is just the fall, there is no doubt that this team has more confidence and belief than ever before.”

As for the spring season, the goal is clear for the Jumbos: make the NCAA tournament. Match play starts up again in March, and Shaff is confident they can capitalize on a golden opportunity.

“This year is absolutely massive. We will be graduating our top three after the spring so if there is a year for us to qualify for NCAAs, this is the one,” Shaff said.