Great spring, landmark win lead Bears into promising 2012-13 season
The Washington University men’s tennis team changed that and picked up its biggest win since its national championship victory in 2008.
“We came into that match with more energy than I’ve ever seen on this team before,” said senior Gary Parizher about the 5-3 win over Amherst. “We kind of yelled our opponents off the court. We came out fired up, and Amherst came out flat against the wrong team.”
The NCAA quarterfinal win, which was the Bears’ final of the season (they finished in fourth place at the tournament after losing in the semifinals and third place match), came at the end of a very impressive run of matches that began after the team’s spring break trip to California, where they lost three of five matches. In the two months between that trip to California and the match against Amherst, the Bears only lost one out of 13 matches, a run that helped them reach their fifth straight NCAA Final Four.
“The spring break trip demonstrated to us what we lacked,” Parizher said. “I think, up to that point, we were relying a little more on our talent and less on our work ethic. After spring break, we really got more to work on our fitness and physical preparation, and I think that’s what contributed to our good run.”
If that late-season and postseason excellence wasn’t exciting enough, here’s something else to think about: all seven members of the team’s postseason lineup last May are back on the team this year.
That kind of continuity can help push the team even further.
“You mature so much every year you’re in college tennis, so to be able to bring back all those guys who now have experience at really tough national events—it’s really invaluable,” senior Adam Putterman said. “It’s going to give us a big edge.”
Leading the way is Adam Putterman, who reached the quarterfinals in individual championships and was a powerhouse at the team’s top singles spot with a 19-4 record in 2011-12. He also pairs with sophomore Ross Putterman to form the top doubles pairing, and they posted a 17-8 record.
“Adam had a very comparable [to] John Watts season at No. 1 singles,” head coach Roger Follmer said, referring to the 2010 NCAA Individual National champion. “And that’s not easy to do because everyone’s gunning for you when you’re in the top spot, when you’ve got a high ranking…and he held that the whole year.”
The rest of the singles lineup remained fairly consistent last year as well. Parizher, Ross Putterman, senior Kareem Farah, sophomore Parker Chang and junior Tim Noack took the majority of the matches at the No. 2 through No. 6 singles spots, respectively, and all posted a positive winning percentage at their spots.
“I think we have arguably one of the deepest teams in the country,” Adam Putterman said. “Everyone on our team can play, and we have a bunch of guys who have the experience as well.”
The doubles teams beyond Putterman/Putterman (no relation, by the way) changed a bit more, but the most common pairings were Farah and Chang at No. 2 doubles and Parizher with junior Jeffrey Hirsh at the No. 3 pairing.
Those teams, though, will likely be tinkered with during the season.
“We kind of work to balance the players out,” Parizher said. “We [will] kind of have one guy who’s a little bit more consistent, not quite as flashy, and then we’ll have another guy who’s a little bit more flashy and comes up with big shots, and they can complement each other that way. Coach will set that up, and the team usually agrees with him.”
The returning Final Four team has all of its mainstays from last season in place and is anchored by the senior leadership of Adam Putterman, Farah and Parizher—three players who, according to Follmer, are hungry to win big this year.
“None of them have won anything yet, to be honest with you,” Follmer said. “They’ve been great, but none of them have won conference—none of them have won a team title—and I think they want it. They’ve been second in conference three years in a row. Do you think they want to do that four years in a row? I don’t think they do.”
The students didn’t argue.
“We have the experience, the depth, the youth to really go through and leave a lasting legacy this year,” Adam Putterman said.
The season begins on Friday at Washington University at the Lynn Imergoot Invitational, which will run through Sunday.