Top Four Seeds Pull Through on Day One of ITA Division III National Men’s Team Indoor Championship
Semifinal matches slated for 2pm on Saturday
ST. PETER, Minn. (Feb. 20) – Day one of the 2015 ITA Division III National Men’s Team Indoor Championship, hosted by Gustavus Adolphus College, saw the top four seeds struggle but move on to Saturday’s semifinal round. In the morning matches, second seed Washington-St. Louis and third seed Emory were both pushed to 5-4, while the evening session produced a pair of 6-3 triumphs for No. 1 seed Trinity (TX) and No. 4 seed Johns Hopkins.
(2) Washington-St. Louis 5, (7) Kenyon 4
The seventh-seeded Kenyon Lords put the Washington-St. Louis Bears on upset alert right from the beginning, coming out aggressively in doubles to claim positions one and three for a 2-1 lead going into singles. Kenyon’s lead was extended by Wade Heerboth, as he controlled his match against John Carswell from start to finish as the first singles spot. The Bears answered with straight set victories from Ross Putterman and Jeremy Bush to even the score at 3-3.
Washington-St. Louis appeared to be in good position to claim the lead, as Tyler Kratky ripped a forehand winner to claim the second set after losing the first. However, Kratky began struggling with cramps, and after letting a few break points slip away early in the third set, he faded against the Lords’ Robert Turlington. Needing the remaining two matches left on court, Johnny Wu and Kevin Chu both came through for the Bears, turning in comfortable two set wins for the 5-4 team victory.
“Kenyon really had us on our heels in doubles,” stated Washington-St. Louis head coach Roger Follmer. “They came out and played first strike tennis, made more returns, and just played better than us. We had a freshman at No. 5 (Wu) who got a little nervous but managed to close out his match. Kevin Chu went 3-0 last year in this tournament to help us win the title, so I was confident in him. I give Kenyon a lot of credit for how they played.”
(3) Emory 5, (6) Carnegie Mellon 4
The other morning matchup saw an experienced Emory squad take on a Carnegie Mellon team without two of its top four players. The Eagles claimed the doubles matches at one and three fairly easily, and looked to be in good position for the sweep before the Tartan duo of Jack Kasbeer and Kenny Zheng battled back to win 8-6, slicing the Emory lead to 2-1.
The Eagles extended their lead to 3-1 when Josh Goodman cruised past Tommy Cheng at the sixth position. The matches up at first and second singles turned into back-and-forth three setters, with each team claiming one, as big serving Christian Heaney-Secord won at two for the Tartans and senior Alex Ruderman won at one for Emory. Ruderman’s win seemed to provide a lift for the Eagles, but the clincher delivered by Rafe Mosetick at the third spot did not come easy, as he had to battle from behind in both sets before winning a couple of tiebreaks.
“Doubles was so up and down,” explained Emory head coach John Browning. “Carnegie Mellon got down 6-4 at No. 2 but stayed with it and put pressure on us. Indoors is always so exciting because you are playing on three courts, so there are so many momentum shifts. We got a big boost from the quick win at No. 6 singles, and (Alex) Ruderman coming through at No. 1 really gave us the momentum we needed to close it out.”
(1) Trinity (TX) 6, (8) Gustavus Adolphus 3
Top seed Trinity quickly found itself in a fight against host Gustavus Adolphus in the evening session. It was the Gusties who won the first doubles match off court, getting a quick 8-2 victory at the third spot from Mitch Elofson and T. Connor Shives. The other two matches were tight after the Tigers raced out to early leads, but the Trinity tandems of Jordan Mayer and Aaron Skinner at one and Adam Krull and Clayton Neiss at two hung on.
The Gusties did not back down despite the 2-1 deficit, as all three first sets of the first group of singles matches on went 6-4 or deeper. However, Trinity was able to win two of them, which seemed to take the crowd out of the match. After winning the first set 7-5, Adam Krull breezed past Motasem Al-Houni 6-1 in the second, while Skinner delivered a 6-4, 6-2 win over Brad Entwistle. The Tigers’ Charlie Curtis came through with the fifth and decisive point.
“Doubles was huge for us with Gustavus being on their home courts and having the home crowd behind them,” said Trinity head coach Russell McMindes. “It was important for us to come out early and try to take that away from them. It was big to close out the wins as No. 1 and No. 2 singles as well. I give Gustavus a lot of credit though. They came out with high intensity and had great crowd support throughout the match.”
(4) Johns Hopkins 6, (5) Case Western Reserve 3
The matchup between the fourth and fifth seeds did not disappoint. Case Western Reserve looked solid early in the doubles contests, but it was Johns Hopkins who would end up claiming two of three thanks to victories as the second and third spots.
The Spartans recorded quick wins at first and third singles thanks to solid efforts from Christopher Krimbill and Viswajit Simhadri, while the Blue Jays’ Jeremy Durbin fought back from a 5-3 first set hole to come through in straight sets, making the overall team score 3-3. The final three matches would all go three sets, with Case Western winning the first set in each of them. The trio of Johns Hopkins seniors were just too tough in the end, as all three battled back for lengthy victories, including the clinching triumph by Erik Lim, which came on his fifth match point.
“This was our first match of the season,” stated Johns Hopkins head coach Chuck Willenborg. “Case Western is a tough team, and they are a battle-tested team. I felt good about our chances after we won two of the doubles and got a great performance at No. 2 singles. But then we came out and fell behind a set in the last three matches on. But all three of those guys are seniors. They didn’t panic and stayed in control. It was really a testament to their will to win. The team showed incredible fight tonight.”
Consolation matches being at 8:30am Saturday morning, with the semifinals slated for 2pm. For the updated draw, click here.
For complete coverage of the 2015 ITA Division III National Men's Team Indoor Championship, including links to live scores, photos and more, please visit the official ITA event page. Follow the ITA on Twitter, @ITAtennis, and like the ITA on Facebook for updates and news from the weekend's events. Use the hashtag #D3Indoors for all tweets in regards to the event, or search the term "D3Indoors" to find others who are tweeting from across the nation about this year's Championship, Feb. 20-22. Below is an in-depth look at the eight teams in the hunt for the 2015 ITA Division III National Men's Team Indoor Championship title.
About the ITA Division III National Men's Team Indoor Championship
The ITA Division III National Men's Team Indoor Championship is held annually each February. The men's event began in 2001 and will be held for the 15th time in 2015. The event features eight participating teams and is held over three days, beginning on Friday with the quarterfinals, followed by semifinals on Saturday and the final on Sunday. Four different schools have hosted the event, while Emory (5), Gustavus Adolphus (4), UC Santa Cruz (3), Kenyon (1), and most recently Washington-St. Louis (1) are past champions.