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Men’s Tennis Stretches Unbeaten Streak

By Robert Aronstam

STAFF WRITER

The men’s tennis team is on a six match winning streak thanks in part to a 7-0 win over Springfield College on Saturday. However, the team got off to a rough start with three losses out of their first four matches. Two of the losses came to Northeast Regional foes: Tufts University and Bowdoin University. MIT is 4-0 against New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference opponents.

Bowdoin sweeps doubles

MIT fell to Bowdoin College 6-1 on April 10, when MIT failed to win a doubles match. Of the three doubles contests, the best effort came at the #1 position. MIT’s Jeffrey P. Augustyn ’03 and Andrew V. Kolesnikov ’03 fought an uphill battle for the entire match. They dropped the first three games of the match and were unable to recover. They managed to tie the score three times, but did not take a lead at any point. The final score of the match was 9-7.

At the start of the #1 doubles match, Bowdoin held their first two service games. Additionally, Bowdoin broke MIT on Kolesnikov’s first service game. Several loose volleys and a double fault led to the service break. Augustyn served in the fourth game, the first won by MIT. The game featured an overhead winner, service winner, and ace from Augustyn. In the following game, Augustyn blasted a passing shot winner on the first point. The Bowdoin server then double faulted twice. An unforced error from Bowdoin on the next point brought the set score to 3-2.

MIT claimed the first point of the sixth game after a vicious volley exchange that resulted in an Augustyn overhead winner. After a Bowdoin passing shot winner, Kolesnikov fired two consecutive aces out wide. The match was tied at 3-3 after a Bowdoin player missed a routine volley on the next point.

After Bowdoin held serve, Augustyn displayed his brilliance at the net on his own service game. With the score at 15-15, he punched a cross-court volley for a winner off of a tough, low return. On the following point, a short, weak MIT shot appeared to set up an easy Bowdoin winner. However, Augustyn surprisingly managed to fire back a volley. This shot drew a weak reply, which Augustyn finished off with an overhead winner.

In the next game, Bowdoin held serve easily. In the tenth game, Kolesnikov hit a very timely and a very untimely serve. Both serves came on break points and neither was touched by the Bowdoin returners. However, only one of the crucial serves landed in the service box, so MIT went down by a break for the second time in the match.

Kolesnikov redeemed himself in the very next game by hitting an unconventional winner on break point. His shot caromed off the net cord and past two unsuspecting Bowdoin players before dropping into the court. MIT capitalized on this lucky break (no pun intended) with another hold on Augustyn’s serve. This game, which included a rarely seen ace on a serve into the body, tied the match score at 6-6. Bowdoin followed with a service hold on the next game, bringing the score to 7-6.

Kolesnikov came up with a big serving game in game #14 and denied Bowdoin’s first chances at claiming the match. On their first match point, Bowdoin hit a wide volley that sent the score to deuce. On the second Bowdoin match point, Kolesnikov hit a bold service winner on a second serve. Later, he added two more consecutive service winner to finish the game.

In MIT’s next service game, Augustyn and Kolesnikov were quickly faced with triple match point. They forced two Bowdoin errors, but finally lost on the next point Bowdoin’s fifth match point. Augustyn finished the match with two aces and 12 winners, while Kolesnikov added three aces and 10 winners. Both players had three double faults in the match. The doubles team fought off four matches points before losing the match.

Kolesnikov claims singles match

Kolesnikov was MIT’s sole victor in the Bowdoin match. He won his #2 singles match in three sets after losing the first set.

In the #1 singles match, Augustyn lost a close match, which at times could have easily become a lopsided Bowdoin win. In the first set, Augustyn was down 1-4, 0-40, but recovered to force a 1st set tiebreaker. He came up short 7-5 in the tiebreaker. In the second set, Augustyn fell behind by two breaks and only managed to win one of them back. Augustyn finished the match with 21 winners. The final score was 7-6 (7-5), 6-4.

Doubles sweep Springfield

MIT began the Springfield match on Saturday by winning three doubles matches. The top doubles team of Augustyn and Kolesnikov jumped out to a 5-0 lead. During this stretch, Augustyn and Kolesnikov combined for six overhead winners. They controlled the net and served well enough to deny any break point opportunities. However, the duo was unable to maintain their dominance and lost four of the next five games. In the final two games, Augustyn took over the match and ended all Springfield comeback hopes. Serving up 6-4, he delivered two aces, one on a second serve. The final game began with a return winner, backhand volley winner, and overhead winner from Augustyn. Springfield’s last breath of life was snuffed out as their final volley found the net. Augustyn finished the match with three aces and eleven winners. Kolesnikov added an ace and eight winners.

The other MIT doubles teams also had easy wins. The second doubles team of Eric C. Makhni ’05 and John G. Bloomsburgh ’03 won by a score of 8-4. The third doubles team of Michael H. Ogrydziak ’04 and Walton W. Lin ’04 shut out their opponents 8-0.

Augustyn wins in three

Augustyn broke serve in the third game of the first set and held the margin for the remainder of the set. He capitalized on a game in which his Springfield opponent, Jake Logan, double faulted twice. In the following game, Logan forced three shots long and Augustyn smashed an overhead winner. Logan jumped to a 40-0 lead in the next game as Augustyn overhit three forehands. However, Augustyn kept swinging for the fences and the strategy worked. He forced short replies and took advantage of such opportunities. He was aided by Logan’s low 1st serve percentage.

With Augustyn up 4-1, the momentum swung in Logan’s favor momentarily. First, Logan broke Augustyn’s serve and then wisely modified his own serving style. Instead of always going for big 1st serves, Logan began occasionally slicing 1st serves in safely. He held his serve for the second time, sending the score to 4-3. Serve was held for the remainder of set, so Augustyn won 6-4.

At the beginning of the second set, Augustyn remained in control. He pounded deep forehands to Logan’s backhand that forced errors and short balls. Clinging to a 2-1 lead, a light rain forced a short delay in the action and apparently dampened Augustyn’s game. Uncharacteristically, Augustyn began hitting many of his shots off the mark. In the first three games after the rain delay, Augustyn sent six balls past the baseline and three others wide of the sidelines.

Augustyn dealt with his baseline slump in the eighth game of the set by approaching the net twice for winning volleys. These winners helped him break serve and tie the score at 4-4. He held serve at love in the following game. Logan did the same in the next game. Logan then broke serve again in the next game by adopting a defensive strategy. Rather than shooting for winners himself, Logan put the pressure on Augustyn. In one particularly exciting point, Logan saved two Augustyn overheads and forced Augustyn to net a volley. Logan served out the set in the next game to win 7-5.

The rains began coming down before the third set began, so the players were forced to finish the match in the indoor tennis center. Augustyn broke early in the set and went up 3-0. That was all he needed to clinch the set and the match. Serve was held for the remainder of the set and Augustyn won by a score of 6-3. Augustyn showed good patience in the final games of the match. He maintained his aggressive style of play without forcing too many shots early in the points. This allowed him to create opportunities for winners. In fact, he finished the match with two volley winners. In the three sets, Augustyn produced 32 winners along with one ace and nine double faults.

Augustyn was joined by the other five singles players, each of whom won their matches in straight sets. The number two through number six singles matches were won by Kolesnikov (6-3, 6-3), Ogrydziak (6-0, 6-0), Makhni (6-2, 6-2), Lin (6-2, 6-2), and Bloomsburgh (6-0, 6-4), respectively.