, Salem, MA

July 23, 2013

Lobsters fall to West-leading Springfield, remain in three-way playoff tie

By Dan Harrison

---- — MANCHESTER — The fight was there for the Lobsters last night with Western Conference leading Springfield visiting.

Unfortunately, the finish wasn’t.

Twice Boston battled back after going down early in sets to force the tiebreak but both times the Lasers answered the challenge as the Lobsters fell 23-15 in overtime in the team’s last home match of the season.

“It’s disappointing,” said Boston head coach Bud Schultz. “I thought we came out a little tired and a little cranky and I thought our play reflected that and the score reflected that.”

Boston is now 4-8 but with New York and Philadelphia also losing last night the three squads remained tied for the second and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Schultz knows effort is never an issue with this team and last night was more due to the fact that his players are human and prone to an off night.

“It’s not a matter of not being willing,” Schultz said of his players’ effort. “I think sometimes people fail to see that pro athletes are human beings. They have their good days and their bad days — their high energy days and their low energy days. You have to put it all together and come out and play.”

Amir Weintraub came back twice to force a tiebreak against Rik De Voest but the Lobsters’ men’ singles player lost in 5-4 (5-3 in the tiebreak).

De Voest was patient and for the most part and kept Weintraub away from his dangerous backhand and while the Israel native did come back from an early three-game hole it wasn’t enough.

“I started pretty bad but I got better. They’re a really good team,” said Weintraub, who has been playing some phenomenal tennis the past four matches. “Everything’s been working well. We have two matches left and I hope to my best and personally have a good end to the season.”

Jean-Julien Rojer and Rik De Voest led Eric Butorac and Weintraub 2-0 but behind great serving by Butorac and relentless range on the court by Weintraub allowed the Lobsters to even the set up at 4-4 forcing a five-point tie-break.

However, the top men’s doubles team in Mylan World TeamTennis found their footing and dispatched Butorac and Weintraub 5-3 in the tiebreak.

Butorac and Rojer are former doubles teammates outside of Mylan WTT.

“We’ve known each other a long time. We were friends before we were teammates and we’ve been friends after,” said Butorac. “(When we play each other) we both really over-think our strategy. We both know what we like to do on the court, where we like to serve and the plays we like to use. So we’re extra-conscious to do things differently.”

Springfield boasts the best women’s and men’s doubles teams as well as the second best mixed doubles team in Mylan WTT this summer and last night Lobsters fans saw why. The Lasers won two of three doubles matches including a 5-1 win at women’s doubles that gave Springfield a 10-5 lead early.

Jill Craybas and Katalin Marosi were bested by Vania King and Alisa Kleybanova as the Lasers were more aggressive at the net during the set and it paid off big time.

Butorac and Marosi rallied to win the Lobsters only set of the night and force overtime after defeating Rojer and King 5-2 on a spectacular winner by Marosi. Serving first in overtime, the Lasers won the first game to end the match.

“My sense is that they (Butorac/Marosi) are the best mixed doubles team in the league,” said Schultz. “We still have a shot to make the playoffs if we in our last two matches, as crazy as that sounds.”

Craybas was defeated by Kleybanova in women’s singles.

The Lobsters will play on the road in Philadelphia tonight.