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Men's Tennis Plays Div. I Team Muelhoefer, Walpole Earn Wins

By Ann Ames

The men's tennis team hosted the University of Vermont, a Division I opponent, for its first match of the spring season on Friday. With a final score of 5-2, Vermont claimed victory over MIT, but the Engineers played some spectacular tennis.

It was a tough start to the season, according to Coach Jeff Hamilton. "This is a challenging way to start. Some coaches might say you should schedule an easy match first to get a win under your belt. But this will get us in shape for our Division III opponents," he said.

One of the highlights of the match was an intense doubles set, with Alan Walpole '93 and Jay Muelhoefer '94 as the first-seeded team. With strong serves, including two aces by each, and crisp volleys, they battled hard against their Vermont opponents. The contest was close until, while up a break, Muelhoefer opened the final game with a service winner. The next point was won by Walpole with a volley down the middle, and this was matched on the next point by a graceful cross-court drop volley to set up a triple set point. After giving up one point to Vermont, Muelhoefer closed the set with an ace, giving the pair an 8-6 victory.

Walpole and Muelhoefer each went on to win in singles. Both had tough matches. Walpole, seeded second, needed a tie breaker in the first set to win, 7-6 (2), 6-2, and Muelhoefer, the third seed, stretched the match to three sets, finally winning, 6-2, 5-7, 6-1.

The second-seeded doubles team, Manish Bhatia '93 and Mauricio Lomelin '94, also displayed strong volleying skills, as well as good team work, but it wasn't enough to stop Vermont. They fell 2-8.

Bhatia, MIT's first seed, opened strongly in singles, claiming the first set, 6-1, but the Vermont player came back to overpower him 1-6, 1-6 in the next two sets with deadly passing shots and accurate strokes. Lomelin, seeded fourth, lost his match, 1-6, 5-7 after a good comeback.

In the final doubles match, third seeds Mark Erickson '94 and Nick Tsai '94 dropped their set, 6-8. Erickson, fifth seed in singles, was up and down in his singles match, eventually losing 2-6, 2-6. Tsai, seeded sixth in his first varsity match, also lost, 3-6, 3-6 despite aggressive play.

The match format was changed this season. Under the old system, the six singles matches were played first, followed by the three doubles matches. All would be full two-out-of-three-set matches, and each win, singles or doubles, would count as a point toward the team's overall score for the day. The coaches devised the new system in an attempt to reduce the length of college tennis matches, which can run as long as six or seven hours. Now the three doubles go first, each playing only a single eight-game pro-set, and one point is given to the school which does best overall in doubles. Singles follow, played as previously.

The men have two home matches this week. The first is on Tuesday at 3 p.m. versus Brown University and the second is on Wednesday at 3 p.m. versus Tufts University.