Eli Ji, Amherst Regional ace rival Northampton, 3-2

  • James Serhant, of Amherst Regional, returns during his first singles match against Stefan Johnson, of Northampton, Monday, May 7, 2018 at JFK Middle School. Johnson won. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Stefan Johnson, of Northampton, returns during his first singles match against James Serhant, of Amherst Regional, Monday at JFK Middle School. Johnson won 6-4, 6-1. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Aidan O'Brien, of Northampton, returns during his second singles match against Eli Ji, of Amherst Regional, Monday, May 7, 2018 at JFK Middle School. Ji won. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • James Serhant, of Amherst Regional, returns during his first singles match against Stefan Johnson, Monday, May 7, 2018 at JFK Middle School. Johnson won. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Stefan Johnson, of Northampton, returns during his first singles match against James Serhant, of Amherst Regional, Monday, May 7, 2018 at JFK Middle School. Johnson won. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • James Serhant, of Amherst Regional, returns during his first singles match against Stefan Johnson, of Northampton, Monday, May 7, 2018 at JFK Middle School. Johnson won. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Aidan O'Brien, of Northampton, returns during his second singles match against Eli Ji, of Amherst Regional, Monday, May 7, 2018 at JFK Middle School. Ji won. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Austin Xiong, of Amherst Regional, returns during his third singles match against Jake Duggan, of Northampton, Monday at JFK Middle School. Xiong won 6-1, 6-1 to give Amherst an early lead against Northampton. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Eli Ji, of Amherst Regional, returns during his second singles match against Aidan O'Brien, of Northampton, Monday, May 7, 2018 at JFK Middle School. Ji won. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Galen Winsor, of Northampton, who plays first doubles with Jack Denhart, returns during their match against Nathan Ji and Andrew Ni, of Amherst Regional, Monday, May 7, 2018 at JFK Middle School. Amherst won. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jack Denhart, of Northampton, who plays first doubles with Galen Winsor, returns during their match against Nathan Ji and Andrew Ni, of Amherst Regional, Monday, May 7, 2018 at JFK Middle School. Amherst won. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Eli Ji, of Amherst Regional, returns a shot during his second singles match against Aidan O’Brien, of Northampton, Monday at JFK Middle School. Ji won 6-4, 7-5 to clinch the Hurricanes’ 3-2 victory over the Blue Devils. Visit gazettenet.com for more photos. More coverage, Page B4. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jake Duggan, of Northampton, returns during his third singles match against Austin Xiong, of Amherst Regional, Monday, May 7, 2018 at JFK Middle School. Xiong won. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Asa Geller, of Northampton, returns during a second-doubles match against Ethan Yu and Sachin Khashu. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Andrew Ni, of Amherst Regional, who plays first doubles with Nathan Ji, returns during their match against Galen Winsor and Jack Denhart, of Northampton, Monday. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Sachin Khashu, of Amherst Regional, who plays second doubles with Ethan Yu, returns during their match against Asa Geller and Chris Raphael-Reily, of Northampton, Monday, May 7, 2018 at JFK Middle School. Northampton won. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Nathan Ji, of Amherst Regional, who plays first doubles with Andrew Ni, returns during their match against Galen Winsor and Jack Denhart, of Northampton, Monday, May 7, 2018 at JFK Middle School. Amherst won. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Ethan Yu, of Amherst Regional, who plays second doubles with Sachin Khashu, returns during a match against Asa Geller and Chris Raphael-Reily, Monday, May 7, 2018 at JFK Middle School. Northampton won. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Chris Raphael-Reily, of Northampton, who plays second doubles with Asa Geller, returns during a match against Ethan Yu and Sachin Khashu, of Amherst Regional, Monday, May 7, 2018 at JFK Middle School. Northampton won. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Ethan Yu, left, of Amherst Regional, who plays second doubles with Sachin Khashu, returns during their match against Asa Geller and Chris Raphael-Reily, of Northampton, Monday, May 7, 2018 at JFK Middle School. Northampton won. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

@kylegrbwsk
Published: 5/7/2018 10:05:23 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Eli Ji needed a pick-me-up.

The Amherst Regional junior trailed Northampton sophomore Aidan O’Brien 5-1 in the second set of their No. 2 singles boys tennis match. Ji won the first set, but O’Brien appeared ready to force a third.

Amherst senior Nathan Ji had wrapped up his match already and made his younger brother an offer, “Win this (set) 7-5 and I’ll buy you noodles from Mom’s House (in Amherst).”

“My motivation spiked,” Eli Ji said. “My power levels went way up.”

He won the next six games to clinch the win 6-4, 7-5 and remain undefeated on the season. Eli Ji also rallied in the first set from 4-1 down, winning five games in a row.

“I noticed he was getting tired, so I kept hitting to his backhand,” Eli Ji said.

His rallies proved decisive, as Eli Ji’s win at No. 2 singles clinched the match for the Hurricanes, 3-2, Monday at JFK Middle School.

Amherst (8-1, 4-1) quickly built a 2-0 match lead.

Austin Xiong finished first at No. 3 singles, dispatching Jake Duggan 6-1, 6-1.

“I was relaxed, my arm was very loose,” Xiong said. “I just felt free.”

Nathan Ji and Andrew Ni beat Northampton’s Galen Winsor and Jack Denhart 6-2, 6-1. They’re also unbeaten this year

“They’re really sharp, crisp doubles players,” Amherst coach Jeremy Wise said. “They’re tough, I’m glad I don’t have to play them.”

Stefan Johnson stabilized Northampton (8-2, 2-2) at No. 1 singles. He fought through a 6-4 first-set win before settling in for a 6-1 win in the second set over James Serhant.

“I was making a lot of errors going for way too much too early,” Johnson said. “I started to be more consistent and place it more.”

Northampton’s top two singles players are underclassmen. Johnson is a freshman, while O’Brien is a sophomore.

“They may be young, but they have a lot of experience,” Northampton coach Doug Winsor said. “They’re leaders on the team despite being young.”

While O’Brien’s loss to Eli Ji clinched the match for the Hurricanes with their third win, the final score was still up for grabs at No. 2 doubles.

Northampton’s Asa Geller and Chris Raphael-Reily won the first set 6-4 against Ethan Yu and Sachin Khashu, and built a 5-2 lead in the second set. Yu and Khashu won four games in a row to tie the set at 5, then the teams alternated games to go to a tiebreak. The Blue Devils prevailed 10-8 to end the match on an uptick.

“They hung in there,” Doug Winsor said. “You could tell they were upset about it, but I think they took their upset feelings and dug in deeper.”

Amherst has only lost one match this season, a tight 3-2 affair to Longmeadow over April vacation.

“We have a lot of depth,” Xiong said. “Some times we can edge strong teams if we’re better at one or two spots.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com.

Sign up for our free email updates
Daily Hampshire Gazette Headlines
Daily Hampshire Gazette Contests & Promotions
Daily Hampshire Gazette Evening Top Reads
Daily Hampshire Gazette Breaking News
Daily Hampshire Gazette Obits
Daily Hampshire Gazette Sports
Daily Hampshire Gazette PM Updates
Daily Hampshire Gazette Weekly Top Stories
Daily Hampshire Gazette Valley Advocate

Jobs



Support Local Journalism


Subscribe to the Daily Hampshire Gazette, your leading source for news in the Pioneer Valley.


Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061
413-584-5000

 

Copyright © 2021 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy