Tufts takes down MIT in first match of spring season

Sophomore Zach Shaff backhands the ball at the MIT Invitational on Oct. 17, 2017. Angelie Xiong / The Tufts Daily

The No. 17 Tufts men’s tennis team traveled to MIT on Saturday to compete in its first match of the 2018 season. The Jumbos won all three doubles matches and three out of the six singles matches, winning with a final score of 6–3. Having lost to MIT in 2016, the Jumbos were thrilled to exact revenge on their cross-town opponents, who are ranked 21st in the country.

“After losing to [MIT] the past couple of years, it was nice to get this victory,” senior co-captain Danny Coran said. “We’re a stronger team this year, and we’re definitely starting this season off on the right foot.”

Tufts came out strong early in the day, winning every one of its doubles matches by close margins. Seniors Zain Ali and Rohan Gupte, playing No. 1 doubles, battled MIT’s duo of juniors Tyler Barr and Alex Cauneac. Though the match went back-and-forth, Ali and Gupte were able to secure the Jumbos’ first win of the day with an 8–6 victory. Tufts No. 2 doubles team of senior co-captain Ben Battle and first-year Carl-Herman Grant, played a similar match, beating junior Sean Ko and first-year Micahel Zhao, 8–6. The Jumbos finished off their sweep of the doubles matches with an 8–5 victory by first-year Boris Sorkin and sophomore Ethan Bershtein of the Engineers’ sophomore duo of Albert Go and Victor Cheng.

“Zain [Ali] and Rohan [Gupte] had a slow start in doubles,” Coran said. “But they fought really hard and came back to win the match, giving us a 3–0 lead going into singles. I think that was the turning point in the match.”

The teams then competed in six singles matches, with the Jumbos breaking even on victories to secure the overall victory. Gupte, playing No. 1 singles for Tufts, had to default his match to MIT co-captain Barr, putting Tufts at a slight disadvantage. However, Sorkin, Ali and sophomore Ben Biswas all came out on top in their matches to secure the victory for the Jumbos.

Ali, playing No. 2 singles, won in straight sets (6–1, 6–4) against Cauneac. Sorkin, competing against Ko in the third position, fought hard to win the first set, ultimately prevailing 7–6, before cruising through the second set with a 6–3 score.

“I was really impressed with Boris,” Coran said. “He got the chance to play in a high-pressure environment and he pulled through to pick up a win for the team.”

Biswas earned a close win at No. 6 singles in one of just two matches to go the full three sets on the day. The Bedford, Mass. native won his first set 6–2 but fell by the same margin in the second to Zhao. However, Biswas clinched the victory with a marathon 10–5 win in the third set. Battle also took his opponent to three sets, but ultimately fell 6–4, 1–6, 2–6.

The team was very pleased with its performance, especially considering it was just the first match of the season.

“I think everyone was really happy about the team’s overall effort and focus against MIT,” Coran said. “Sometimes the first match of the season can be difficult because you don’t have the best rhythm, but we got it done.”

The Jumbos will ship off to Arizona State University this weekend, where they will take on the Conn. College Camels (0–1). The team will travel to Claremont, Calif. the following day to take on No. 23 Sewanee (9–2). Though they expect the latter match against the Tigers to be particularly close, the Jumbos anticipate tough competition out of both opponents.

“We’re really excited for our next match at Arizona State, where we will be playing Conn. College,” Coran said. “I think those matches will be great preparation leading up to California. We’re going to continue to work hard and make improvements as the season goes on.”