CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. – It all came down to the fourth doubles match. With Horace Mann and Horace Greeley all tied up at 3-3, the pressure was on in the final match of the day.
Horace Mann rose to the occasion.
Teddy Drucker and Grant Ackerman defeated Ilan Small and Gavin Abrams, 2-0 (6-1, 7-5) to help Horace Mann defeat host Greeley, 4-3, on Thursday.
“It really felt great, especially since it’s for the team and for ourselves it’s a big win,” said Ackerman, a freshman. “There was pressure, but I think we pulled through it. We did a good job focusing and pulled out the match.”
With all of the players lined up next to their court watching the crucial match, Drucker and Ackerman came through in the clutch for Horace Mann (5-3). After the duo cruised to victory in the first set, their opponents battled back to tie the second set at 5-5. Drucker and Ackerman refocused and won the next two games to secure victory for their team.
“They made it very close in the second set,” said Drucker, a junior. “My partner Grant was very solid from the back. We closed in on our opportunities in the end and it felt great to get the win. We just knew we had to stay solid. We were playing pretty solid in the first set. In the second set we knew that if we kept playing our game, we would walk away with the win.”
The duo felt like they could beat the Greeley team from the back, so they tried to avoid hitting the ball to the net player.
“They were both very solid at the net,” Drucker said. “Any time we tried to attack the net player they usually won the point. We just had to out grind them from the back and that’s how we won the match.”
“They were poaching,” Ackerman said. “We hit it to the back and it really worked out well.”
Greeley was undefeated at 13-0 last season and was 3-0 coming into the match, which gave the win some added significance for Horace Mann.
The Lions won all four doubles matches and didn’t drop a single set. In first doubles, Horace Mann’s Daniel Elkind and Steven Hefter edged Greeley’s Justin Grossman and Jason Mulholland, 2-0 (6-3, 6-1). Wonsye Chong and Justin Langfan defeated Doug Gursha and Zach Jayson 2-0 (6-3, 6-3) in second doubles. In the third doubles match, Faris Nathoo and James Ruben bested Kevin Socolow and Harry Hall, 2-0 (6-2, 6-1).
The Quakers started the match strong by dominating the singles matches. The second singles match was an exciting, back-and-forth affair between Greeley’s Neal Port and Horace Mann’s Dilan Gupta. Port picked up the win, 2-1 (6-4, 4-6, 10-7).
“It happens to me in every tournament, I win the first set then lose the second,” Port said. “[In the last set] I needed to pull it out. It wasn’t for me, it was for my team. It was a tough match and they’re a good team.”
In first singles, senior Jay Glickman, a four-year varsity player, won a tough match over Andrew Arnaboldi, 2-0 (7-5, 6-2).
“I came out and I wasn’t really expecting this type of match,” Glickman said. “He was a great player. He has a really good backhand. After I won the first set I got a little more comfortable and I pulled through.”
Greeley’s Jeremy Wei topped Ian Antonoff, 2-0 (6-2, 6-3), in third singles.
Horace Mann has won 11 out of the last 12 Ivy League championships and has high expectations again this season.
“This is a great team and this is going to be an exciting year,” Drucker said. “Hopefully we can do great things with this team.”
Follow Rob DiAntonio on Twitter @MSGV_RJD