After MIT had already secured a victory on Wednesday, junior Andrew Lutz’s match continued on into the evening, leaving the rest of the men’s tennis team to sit in the cold under the setting sun and look on. As Lutz battled until the very end of his second marathon match of the day, the Jumbos found themselves contemplating the results of the match before it had even ended.
“It’s frustrating,” co−captain Morrie Bossen said. “As a senior, we’ve played MIT every year, and every year we’ve lost a close match to them. It definitely is disappointing.”
When Lutz finally succumbed to his Engineer opponent, the Jumbos once again were on the wrong end of a losing effort, falling 6−3 on the road in their second loss in a row.
The marathon of a match began far better than it ended for Tufts, which jumped out to a 2−1 lead in doubles thanks to victories from its second and third pairings.
In the No. 2 doubles spot, freshman Brian Tan was forced to replace an absent senior co−captain Sam Laber and filled in admirably, winning 9−8 (5) alongside junior Ben Barad. The other victory came from Bossen and Mark Westerfield, who pulled out an 8−5 win.
“I was pretty pleased how Mark and I played as a team,” Bossen said. “Mentally, we were the most dialed in of every match we’ve been in. So many games went to deuce, and we pulled out so many games.”
But the positive results ended after the doubles portion for the Jumbos. In their last match against Bowdoin, it was the doubles teams that struggled, but in this match the singles players allowed MIT to roar back and win five of six matches to take the win.
Only one of the matches pushed past a second set — Lutz’s attempt to hold on, which stretched into the evening. The final result — 6−7 (10), 7−5, 10−5 — was not decided until more than an hour after the other teams had wrapped up.
The one win the Jumbos took in singles came from sophomore Matt Pataro, who took home a tidy 6−3, 6−0 victory over a challenging MIT counterpart.
“[Pataro] played the best match that I’ve ever seen him play,” said Bossen, who noted that Pataro took down a player that handily beat a now−graduated Jumbo the last time they played.
“Lutz and I lost a really close match at [No. 1] doubles,” Pataro said. “We had it and we were right there, so I was pretty determined to not let another one get lost. I didn’t really care who the guy was, and I ended up playing well.”
Though Pataro had one of his best days of the season, the rest of the squad found itself disheartened by yet another loss to the Engineers.
“It’s not a conference match, so at the end of the day it’s not the biggest deal if you’re looking big picture,” Bossen said. “But it’s a disappointing loss. They’re a good team and we really wanted to beat them. It’s very disappointing to not come out on top.”
“MIT hit a lot of really big shots and I think we weren’t really ready for that in particular,” Pataro said.
When the match finally came to an end, the coaching staff called the players together in an effort to shore up some of the issues the team has been struggling with lately. Though the Jumbos will look to iron out some of the kinks in their next few practices, they do not have much time to prepare before heading to Amherst on Sunday to take on the nation’s number−one team.
The top−ranked Lord Jeffs are the defending national champions, and every player for the Jumbos will need to play his strongest match of the season to have any chance at an upset.
“I think that we’re headed in the right direction as a team, even though we lost [Wednesday],” Bossen said. “It’s a question of if everyone can put together their best effort.”