SAINT PETER, MN. – The defending champs were teetering on the brink of elimination.
Trailing host and No. 8 seed Gustavus Adolphus College on Friday in the opening round of the 2018 ITA Division III National Men’s Team Indoor Championship, the top-seeded Emory Eagles had to use every ounce of the word on the back of their uniform.
The Swanson Tennis Center, located on the campus of Gustavus Adolphus College, was packed with fans who were into the match from the outset. Their energy, combined with gutsy play from the Gusties, provided the home team with a 4-3 advantage.
With no room left to spare, Emory needed to find a way to win out with two courts still in play. They did just that. Hayden Cassone leveled the contest 4-4 with a 6-2, 5-7, 7-5 win at No. 4 singles, and Scott Rubinstein scored a 6-2, 5-7, 6-3 victory at No. 6 singles to set off Emory’s celebration and advancement in Saturday’s semifinal round.
“The match turned on a dime,” said Emory head coach John Browning, whose team will take on No. 4 Chicago in the semifinals, with a scheduled Noon CDT, start. “We were up a set on basically (every court) and Gustavus showed a lot of heart and honestly, we should’ve lost that match. We were within a point or two of doing so and got very lucky.”
The Gusties, who in addition to playing in the tournament are serving as host, were buoyed by the support of the Saint Peter and Gustavus Adolphus College community.
“It was so special,” said Gustavus Adolphus head coach Tommy Valentini. “To have this event at our place means the world to us. We are grateful and cherish the feelings. Hopefully we’ll continue to get better (as a team) from having played in a match like this one.”
Friday’s action began with No. 3 Washington University in St. Louis taking on No. 6 University of Redlands. The Bears, led by head coach Roger Follmer in his 17th year, jumped out to a 3-0 lead after sweeping doubles, and went on to win the match 9-0. Johnny Wu secured the match-clinching point for the Bears with a 6-3, 6-2 win at No. 1 singles over Chase Lipscomb. Washington University in St. Louis placed third in this event last year.
Facing Washington University in St. Louis in the semifinals will be the No. 2 seed, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. The Stags rallied from a slow start in doubles against No. 7 Trinity to take all three courts, and the team didn’t drop a set in singles, scoring points on all six courts to round out the 9-0 victory. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and Washington University in St. Louis will be the first match on the courts on Saturday, with an 8:30 a.m. CDT, start time.
The No. 4 versus No. 5 matchup proved to be as close as the seeding, with Chicago taking on Carnegie Mellon University. The Maroons won two of three courts in doubles and won the first two points in singles to gain a 4-1 advantage. Led by Daniel Levine at No. 1 singles and Revanth Boppana at No. 3 singles, the Tartans pulled within one point at 4-3, but Chicago’s Alejandro Rodriguez outlasted Robert Levin in three sets (6-2, 4-6, 6-4) to give the Maroons the crucial fifth point. Moments later, Jeremy Yuan ended the match with a three-set victory over Kailas Shekar 7-6 (3), 1-6, 7-5.
For updated draws, results, live scoring and video, daily recaps and photo galleries, head to the Division III Men’s National Indoors event page. On social media, be sure to follow @ITA_Tennis on Twitter and Instagram and use the hashtag #ITAIndoors to join the conversation.
Opening Round Results
No. 3 Washington University in St. Louis def. No. 6 University of Redlands 9-0
No. 2 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps def. No. 7 Trinity University 9-0
No. 4 Chicago def. No. 5 Carnegie Mellon 6-3
No. 1 Emory def. No. 8 Gustavus Adolphus 5-4