Amherst aces Northampton in boys tennis regular season finale

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  • James Serhant, who plays first singles for Amherst Regional, returns during his match against Stefan Johnson, of Northampton, Wednesday in Amherst. Visit gazettenet.com for more photos. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Chris Raphael-Reily, of Northampton, who plays first doubles with Asa Geller, returns during his match against Amherst Regional, Wednesday, May 29, 2019 in Amherst. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Stefan Johnson, who plays first singles for Northampton, returns during his victory against James Serhant, of Amherst Regional, Wednesday. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Andrew Ni, of Amherst Regional, who plays first doubles with Marcos Sotarello, returns during his match against Northampton, Wednesday, May 29, 2019 in Amherst. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Ethan Yu, who plays third singles for Amherst Regional, returns during his match against Pierre Venne, of Northampton, Wednesday, May 29, 2019 in Amherst. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Asa Geller, of Northampton, who plays first doubles with Chris Raphael-Reily, returns during his match against Amherst Regional, Wednesday, May 29, 2019 in Amherst. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Pierre Venne, who plays third singles for Northampton, returns during his match against Ethan Yu, of Amherst Regional, Wednesday, May 29, 2019 in Amherst. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Austin Xiong, who plays second singles for Amherst Regional, returns during his match against Aidan O'Brien, of Northampton, Wednesday, May 29, 2019 in Amherst. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Marcos Sotarello, of Amherst Regional, who plays first doubles with Andrew Ni, returns during his match against Northampton, Wednesday, May 29, 2019 in Amherst. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Aidan O'Brien, who plays second singles for Northampton, returns during his match against Austin Xiong, of Amherst Regional, Wednesday, May 29, 2019 in Amherst. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Writer
Published: 5/29/2019 10:10:13 PM

AMHERST — Familiarity hasn’t bred contempt between the Amherst Regional and Northampton boys tennis teams.

The Hurricanes and Blue Devils met for the sixth time in the past two years, Wednesday at Amherst Middle School, and Amherst won 3-2. It was the fifth win in the recent series for Amherst, but all of them came in the regular season. Northampton prevailed in last year’s Division 1 Western Massachusetts semifinals.

Amherst graduated one senior from last year’s team, while Northampton graduated three, so there are plenty of familiar faces on the other side of the net for both teams.

At No. 1 singles, Northampton sophomore Stefan Johnson and Amherst sophomore James Serhant have played each other in all six matches. Johnson won all six, including a 6-2, 6-3 win Wednesday.

“It’s like the same type of shots or rallies every time I play him. We have some fun points, and it’s really fun to repeat,” Johnson said.

Austin Xiong moved up to No. 2 singles this season and showed improvement between two matches against Northampton’s Aidan O’Brien. O’Brien beat him 6-3, 6-2 during the team’s first matchup, but Xiong pulled closer in a 7-6 (5), 6-3 loss Wednesday.

“I’ve known Austin for a few years now, seeing him over and over again actually makes me happy to come back every year. I feel like we’ve formed kind of a friendship,” O’Brien said. “As the match goes on I can focus in on what I need to focus on specifically. I know what strategies to employ, and it just takes me a couple games to warm up into that.”

Ethan Yu’s 6-3, 6-1 win over Pierre Venne at No. 3 singles clinched the victory with the Hurricanes’ third point. Johnson dispatched Serhant first to put the Blue Devils up, but Amherst’s Andrew Ni and Marcos Sotarello won 6-3, 6-3 over Asa Geller and Chris Raphael-Reily at No. 1 doubles to tie the match.

Facing the same opponents repeatedly didn’t faze Ni.

“I have played first doubles for three years, I think if I was going to have déjà vu it would have occurred in like the second year,” he said.

The Hurricanes (12-2, 6-2 Valley) went up 2-1 after their No. 2 doubles team of Siddu Sitaraman and Rohan Shenoy bested Gabe Brodeur and Noah Aronstein 6-4, 6-2.

Because both teams have seen each other so much, the mystery in their matchups is gone. The repetition allows them to hone the finer points of their games rather than feel out an opponent.

“It gives you an opportunity to make fine adjustments. The uncertainty gets removed,” Amherst co-coach Andy Pazmany said. “You can refine a game plan and see how well you can execute it.”

The season isn’t over for either team after both qualified for the postseason. Both teams were able to finish the regular season with a test against a challenging opponent.

“These matches are much better. The points they’re having are high-quality points,” Pazmany said. “You get feedback of where you’re at in this part of the season. It’s excellent preparation for the playoffs.”

With the way things have gone lately, there’s a good chance the Blue Devils (9-7, 2-6) and Hurricanes will see each other again in the tournament.

“I think that’s definitely a possibility,” O’Brien said. “I do hope to see these guys again, actually.”


Jobs



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