For the first time in 10 years, the men’s tennis team sent representatives to the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championship. Determined to hold their own against the top players in the nation, juniors Matt Siow and Matt Spindler battled back from an early defeat to beat numerous top-ranked doubles pairings to win the Consolation Doubles title.
After winning the Northeast Regional doubles title two weeks ago, Siow and Spindler began the National Tournament in the round of 16, opening against the No. 2 seed, Ohio State’s Chase Buchanan and Blaz Rola. The Buckeyes duo, ranked No. 3 in the nation, allowed Princeton to keep the match close but ultimately beat the Tigers 8-5. Buchanan and Rola went on to win the tournament and the National Doubles Title.
The fact that Princeton was able to put up a good fight against the eventual national champions shows how well the duo has been playing.
“Basically, this means that we had the hardest draw of the tournament,” Spindler said. “We played the eventual champions first round, and we had a serious chance of beating them. We had as good a shot as anyone of winning the whole thing.”
The first-round loss placed Siow and Spindler in the consolation bracket, drawing a match against the No. 9-ranked Maryland pair of John Collins and Maros Horny. Princeton fell behind numerous times throughout the match, but the Tigers battled back and defeated the Terrapin duo 9-7.
The California team of Carlos Cueto and Ben McLachlan awaited the Princeton pair in the following round. After falling behind 3-0, Siow and Spindler regrouped and went on a run, eventually winning 8-6 to clinch a berth in the finals of the consolation bracket.
Princeton met the No. 13-ranked duo of Christopher Aumueller and Benedikt Lindheim of Nebraska in the finals. Despite the strong return game of Aumueller and Lindheim, Siow and Spindler held serve throughout the match and broke at love in the final game to win the match 9-7 and take home the Consolation Doubles National Title.
Overall, playing against the top teams in the nation was an invaluable experience for Siow and Spindler.
“It was so much fun,” Spindler said. “Against those players, we had zero margin for error. We had to do the right thing on every ball of every point. If not it was clear we would lose. To come out with solid performances against these opponents gives us a tremendous amount of confidence going forward. Hands down the most fun I have ever had on a tennis court.”
“It was a good experience to play against the best teams in the nation,” Siow said. “It’s a good measuring stick to see where we’re at and to see what we need to do to improve. It’s the first time we’ve had any representation at indoor nationals since John and Kyle in 2001 and to notch a couple wins against top teams really gives us a lot of confidence moving forward. One thing we learned is that we were definitely there — we can play against any team in the nation and have a shot to win. Even the match we lost we were right in there. We only lost by one break, and that team ended up winning the whole thing.”
Siow is also a sports writer for The Daily Princetonian.
Besides offering a chance to see how the duo stacks up against the top teams in the nation, the national tournament offered other new experiences.
“It was really cool to have ball kids for the finals, and after we won the finals match two kids came up to us and asked for our autographs and a picture,” Siow said. “That was really cool; that’s never happened to me before. I couldn’t have asked for a better end to the fall season.”
Sophomore Dan Davies and freshman Ben Quazzo were also in action for Princeton this weekend, competing in Cornell’s Fall Invitational. Both Davies and Quazzo competed in the A singles and doubles brackets. Davies defeated Quoc-Daniel Ngyuen 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 before falling in the semifinals 4-6, 6-2, 6-0 to Buffalo’s Damien David. Quazzo was defeated by Cornell’s Evan McElwain 6-1, 4-6, 7-5 in the first round before going on to win two consolation matches. On the doubles courts, Davies and Quazzo reached the quarterfinals, losing to Buffalo’s David and Ivan Vereschaga 8-5.