ITA Division III Men's Indoor Championship

 

Intercollegiate Tennis Association

2013 Division III National Team Indoor Championship

Hosted by Gustavus Adolphus College

February, 22-24

 

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Kenyon Claims First ITA Division III National Men's Team Indoor Championship Crown in Program History

Lords earn dramatic 5-4 victory over No. 1 Emory

 

Story Courtesy Nick Snow

ST. PETER, Minn. (Feb. 24) - Second-seeded Kenyon needed almost six hours, but the Lords eventually pulled off the 5-4 upset of top seed Emory on Sunday in the final of the ITA Division III National Men's Team Indoor Championship on the campus of Gustavus Adolphus College. Kenyon slipped behind 2-1 after doubles but managed to rally in singles play for its first national championship in program history.

Although Emory took the 2-1 lead into singles action, it appeared the Lords would be the team to have the early advantage. On court three, Kevin Ye and Wade Heerboth continued their outstanding play, sprinting out to a 5-0 lead before Jackson Isaacs and Will Adams could get on the board. Ye and Heerboth never let their level of play drop, taking the victory 8-3. The Eagles countered at the second position, as Alex Ruderman and Eric Halpern took a quick double-break advantage over Paul Burgin and Sam Geier. The Lords made a small push late, but it wasn't enough, as Ruderman and Halpern won 8-4.

On court one, C.J. Williams and Tim Rosensteel turned a close match into an apparent rout for the Lords, winning four games in a row for a commanding 7-3 lead over Elliot Kahler and Ian Wagner. That gave Kenyon two opportunities to serve out the match for a 2-1 lead, but neither Williams nor Rosensteel could come through. In the end, a tiebreak would decide the victor, and it was Kahler and Wagner who came up with the big serves and volley winners to claim it for the Eagles.

The overall lead for Emory was short-lived, as Michael Razumovsky of the Lords cruised past Ruderman 6-2, 6-2. The next match off court was another Kenyon victory, this time from the third position. Heerboth won the first set handily 6-3 against Wagner, and held a break lead late in the second in a very similar situation to yesterday. Once again, he let the lead slip away, as Wagner leveled the set at 5-5 and eventually forced a tiebreak. Not wanting to be pushed to a third and see his team's momentum fade, Heerboth prevailed seven points to five, giving the Lords a 3-2 lead.

"Going down 2-1 after doubles was obviously extremely difficult," explained Kenyon head coach Scott Thielke. "Especially when you consider that we had three or four match points at one, serving for it at both 7-3 and 7-5. However, with yesterday and today, we certainly showed that we are fighters."

The ebbs and flows of the match were far from over at that point. Emory's Halpern looked to be in for a hard-fought two set victory against Burgin, taking the opening set 6-4 and continuing to put the pressure on Burgin, pushing him behind the baseline consistently. Fourth-ranked Burgin was struggling to find the range from the ground for most of the match, but he continued to rely on his defense to extend points, frustrating Halpern, who started to spray a few more balls late in the set, allowing Burgin to take it 7-5. The decisive set was a back-and-forth affair, as Halpern took a break advantage at 4-3, only to let it slip away in the next game. The Eagle would find a way to break again in the next game, this time making sure to put away Burgin, taking the match with a well-struck pass.

Halpern's victory seemed to be the knockout punch to the Lords, especially when Rafe Mosetick defeated Rosensteel in straight sets at the fifth spot to push Emory's lead to 4-3. As Mosestick was putting away the last few points, Kahler was up a set and a break against Williams on court four, putting the Eagles just a few games away from their third consecutive Championship crown. However, Kahler's big serve did not hold up in the second set, as he was broken for 3-3, then again at love for a 5-3 lead in favor of Williams, who took the set by serving it out in the next game.

The amount of pressure on the third set between Kahler and Williams increased when Kenyon's Ye delivered a comprehensive 6-0, 6-0 defeat of Emory's Nicholas Szczurek, evening the overall score at 4-4. That match was off court with Kahler and Williams in the middle of the final set, with Williams up a break at 4-3. Kahler was continuing to miss with his big first serve, not earning the free points he needed. Williams pushed his lead to 5-3, earning the opportunity to serve for the championship at 5-4. However, Kahler would not go away easily, breaking serve to move the score to 5-5.

Fittingly in a match as tightly contested as this one, a race to seven in a third set tiebreak would decide the champion. It was Williams who came through with the more aggressive plays on the key points, coming in behind any short ball to apply the pressure on Kahler. Williams let a mini-break lead slip away early in the tiebreak, but was able to hang on after going ahead 4-2, serving out the 5-7, 6-3, 7-6(4) triumph for the Lords.

"C.J. (Williams) was in the same position he was in yesterday, and he came through for us twice," stated Thielke. "Today both guys were extremely nervous in the final set, but C.J. played a tremendous tiebreak. Again, I think the experience of playing in the NCAA finals last season helped us out today. All six guys in our singles lineup today played in that match."

The Championship's third place match also took place on Sunday, with No. 6 seed Cal Lutheran taking down No. 5 seed Trinity 6-3. The Kingsmen displayed great doubles play all weekend, taking two of three from the Tigers for the 2-1 lead. Cal Lutheran received victories from Nick Ballou, who went undefeated at the top singles position for the tournament, and Ray Worley. Alex Nichols clinched the victory for the Kingsmen with his three-set win on court three.

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Emory, Kenyon Set to Battle in Finals of 2013 ITA Division III

Johns Hopkins picks up two wins in consolation play

 

Story Courtesy Nick Snow

ST. PETER, Minn. (Feb. 23) - The matchup for the 2013 ITA Division III National Men's Team Indoor Championship crown is set, as top seed Emory will take on No. 2 seed Kenyon Sunday morning at 9 am CT on the campus of Gustavus Adolphus College. The two-time defending champion Eagles will be seeking their sixth title in program history, while the Lords are looking to break through for their first title ever.

No. 1 seed Emory found itself locked in a tight contest right from the start, as the Trinity Tigers came out strong in doubles action. The Eagles appeared to have court two in their control, as Alex Ruderman and Eric Halpern raced out to a 4-1 lead. However, Trinity's Nicolas Moreno and Aaron Skinner dug in from there, not only making a comeback, but rattling off the final seven games for an 8-4 victory. Courts one and three would both end in 8-6 decisions, with each team claiming one. Elliot Kahler and Ian Wagner won at the top spot for the Emory, while Connor Dunn and Greg Haugen secured the third position for the Tigers.

Trailing 2-1 going into singles, the Eagles were hoping to get the momentum back on their side with a quick victory from one of their top three players. Ian Wagner delivered for his team, defeating Erick DelaFuente 6-3, 6-3 at the third spot.

"(Ian) Wagner is our anchor at three singles," stated Emory head coach John Browning. "He really helped take the pressure off of us by getting that point."

However, it was Trinity who would take the opening sets on courts one and two, putting the Tigers in good position for the upset. The Eagles top two players, Halpern and Ruderman, were able to rally to force decisive sets in their matches. At the same time, Kahler took the court at the fourth position and sprinted out to a quick lead against Moreno, winning the opening set 6-1.

"That's the nature of this tournament," explained Browning. "There are going to be several momentum swings, but you can't get down and let one game turn into something catastrophic."

Halpern and Skinner were on serve early in their third set, but it was Halpern who surged ahead first with a break for a 3-2 lead. Skinner would break back in the next game, moving Halpern around the court and forcing him to send a forehand long on break point. With Skinner trying to even up the score at 4-4, Halpern broke at love for the 5-3 advantage and served out the big victory.

Moments later, Ruderman completed an improbable comeback from 5-2 down in the third, taking out Haugen 7-5 in the final set. Kahler would come through with the clinching victory for Emory, securing the break at 4-4 and closing out the match emphatically on serve.

"Tonight we took things point by point and didn't get rattled," stated Browning. "(Eric) Halpern was amazing tonight. He was up 6-4 in the first set tiebreak, but (Aaron) Skinner is a great player and he played well to come away with the first set. Halpern just showed his resolve tonight to win that match. (Alex) Ruderman is certainly not playing his best tennis, but he is a fighter. He was able to regain his focus down 5-2 in the third to take things point by point to get back in his match."

Second seed Kenyon found itself receiving an equally tough test from No. 6 seed Cal Lutheran. The Kingsmen played outstanding doubles in upsetting Johns Hopkins on day one, and they came up with the same quality against the Lords. Nick Ballou and Ray Worley won at the top spot 8-4, while Connor Treacy and Alex Nichols breezed to an 8-1 victory on court two. Wade Heerboth and Kevin Ye salvaged one point for Kenyon by winning at the third position 8-5.

"I thought they were lights out at one and two doubles," stated Kenyon head coach Scott Thielke. "We played them last year and got down 2-1 after doubles as well. That match came down to the last two on just like today. I told them that we just had to get wins where we didn't last year."

That's exactly what the Lords did, but not before Ballou gave Cal Lutheran another point, defeating Burgin 6-1, 6-4. That would be the final point of the night for the Kingsmen, as several Kenyon players came through in tight third sets.

The Lords recorded their first point in singles action thanks to Tim Rosensteel, who picked up a 6-1, 7-6(4) win at the fifth spot. It appeared Heerboth would be next off court for Kenyon, as he was up a set and a break against Alex Nichols, but that point wouldn't come so easily. Nichols would rally to win the final four games of the second set to force a decisive third. That set was a back and forth affair the entire way, with Heerboth earning a break after a lengthy game at 5-5 and serving it out in the next game.

"Wade got a little nervous in the second set when he was serving for it at 5-4 and ended up losing that set 7-5," explained Thielke. "For him to come back and win the final set 7-5 shows how tough of a player he is. He has been really solid for us for two years now. We really felt good about our singles lineup tonight, but we knew Paul (Burgin) would have a tough time at one. Ballou is a great player, and he is definitely playing better than a year ago. We did a great job of winning three three-set matches tonight."

Heerboth evened the overall score at 3-3, and the next completed match also went the way of the Lords, as Michael Razumovsky rebounded from dropping the opening set to Worley to in the match on court two 4-6, 6-2, 6-4. That left Kenyon one point shy of clinching a spot in the finals, which was produced by the final three-set win of the night. C.J Williams and Treacy split the first two sets by the score of 6-4, but it was Williams who got the early break in the third and made it hold up, taking the final set 6-3.

"We really felt good about our singles lineup tonight, but we knew Paul (Burgin) would have a tough time at one," said Thielke. "(Nick) Ballou is a great player, and he is definitely playing better than a year ago. We also did a great job of winning three three-set matches."

Consolation play also wrapped up on Saturday. In the morning session, No. 3 seed Johns Hopkins defeated No. 7 seed North Carolina Wesleyan 6-3, while host institution Gustavus Adolphus upset No. 4 seed UC Santa Cruz 5-4. Hopkins collected another win in the nightcap, getting by the Golden Gusties 5-4, while the Banana Slugs rebounded to take out North Carolina Wesleyan 5-4. Click here for the updated draw.

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Day One Complete at 2013 ITA Division III National Men's Team Indoor Championship
Emory cruises, Trinity survives marathon match against UC Santa Cruz

 

Story Courtesy Nick Snow

ST. PETER, Minn. (Feb. 22) - The first day of the 2013 ITA Division III National Men's Team Indoor Championship wrapped up late Friday night, producing four teams remaining in the hunt for the title. The top two seeds, Emory and Kenyon, breezed to 8-1 victories, while No. 3 seed Johns Hopkins and No. 4 seed UC Santa Cruz ended up on the wrong side of 5-4 decisions. Click here for the updated draw.

The morning session featured second-seeded Kenyon up against North Carolina Wesleyan, along with third seed Johns Hopkins and Cal Lutheran. The Lords looked strong in doubles to open their match against the Battling Bishops, threatening to take a commanding 3-0 lead into singles action. Kenyon claimed points at the second and third positions before North Carolina Wesleyan was able to salvage the match at the first spot with a 9-7 victory.

The Lords claimed the first singles match off court, as Wade Heerboth picked up a 6-0, 6-4 win at the third position. Heerboth's precise baseline game was nearly flawless in the opening set, but he needed to overcome more erratic play in the second to hold on. Kevin Ye was next to deliver for Kenyon, bouncing back from an opening set loss to defeat Marcus Pola 4-6, 6-2, 6-1. That set the stage for fourth-ranked Paul Burgin at the top singles spot. Burgin needed a victory to become the Lords' all-time leader in career singles wins, but to do so he would need to take down second-ranked Robert Kjellberg. In a match that was much closer than the score indicated, Burgin triumphed 6-4, 6-3.

"I thought we were solid in doubles today," stated Kenyon head coach Scott Thielke. "Five of the six guys in our doubles lineup were on this team that played in the NCAA Finals last year, so they are used to that kind of pressure. We were up breaks on all three courts early, but gave them right back in almost every situation. We need to hold on to those breaks. In singles, Paul (Burgin) and Robert (Kjellberg) have played three times. Each had won once, 7-5 in the third. For Paul to win in straight sets is impressive."

Solid doubles helped No. 6 seed Cal Lutheran build a 3-0 lead against Johns Hopkins. Nick Ballou and Ray Worley set the tone early for the Kingsmen at the first position, taking the first four games against the fourth-ranked duo of Tanner Brown and Erik Lim. Ballou and Worley ended up with an 8-2 victory, while Cal Lutheran also won 8-4 on court two and 8-6 on court three.

Ballou came through in singles play as well, producing a comprehensive performance that resulted in a 6-4, 6-2 defeat of fifth-ranked Andy Hersh. Trailing 4-0 in the overall score, the Blue Jays were not content on going away without a fight, claiming the next three completed singles matches to trim their deficit to 4-3. Johns Hopkins momentum would come to a halt thanks to the Kingsmen's Connor Treacy, who put his team through to the semifinals with a 6-4, 6-3 win at the fourth spot.

"We have really focused on doubles in practice," explained Cal Lutheran head coach Mike Gennette. "Luckily, it worked out today for us. It was definitely an exciting match, and things got tight at the end. We are still in early season form, and I am looking forward to seeing our players lift their games tomorrow."

In the night matches, Emory was up against host Gustavus Adolphus, while UC Santa Cruz faced Trinity. The home team came out strong in doubles against the Eagles, running away with the match at the second spot and gaining control early on court three as well. However, Emory showed why it is the defending champion at this event, clawing back at the third position to take the match 8-5. The Eagles also pulled out a close 8-6 decision on court one, giving them a 2-1 lead overall.

Emory was dominant at the end of sets in singles, as 10 of the 12 sets were decided by a score of 6-3 or closer; however, the Eagles claimed all six matches in straight sets. The top of the Emory lineup came through for the insurmountable 5-1 lead, as Alex Ruderman defeated Amrik Donkena 6-4, 6-4 on a Donkena double fault for the clinching point.

"The doubles is almost always close," said Emory head coach John Browning. "It usually comes down to just a few key points. Gustavus is a tough doubles team, especially at home. We are a young team that is still looking for its identity. We have three guys back from last year's NCAA Championship team, and we have confidence in them. (Eric) Halpern, (Alex) Ruderman, and (Ian) Wagner came through for us tonight."

In the other night match, the Trinity Tigers took two of three doubles points for an early 2-1 lead over UC Santa Cruz, highlighted by an 8-0 victory at the first position. Jordan Mayer and top-ranked Aaron Skinner delivered straight sets wins in singles play, giving the Tigers what seemed to be a safe lead against the Banana Slugs. UC Santa Cruz would fight back to make the score 4-3, but still needed to take the final two matches on court.

At the sixth position, Charlie Curtis looked poised to close it out for the Tigers, winning the first set 6-1. He was locked in a tight second set with Max Littlejohn, but Curtis was able to keep the lead in the second set up to 5-4, where Littlejohn had to fight off numerous match points to hold for 5-5. The set eventually went into a tiebreak, where Littlejohn emerged victorious seven points to five. On court four, Trinity's Nicolas Moreno and UC Santa Cruz's Sam Rodgers had split tiebreak sets and were early in the third when Littlejohn forced a decisive set. Rodgers took full control in the opening stages of the set, winning it 6-2 to even the overall score at 4-4. The focus shifted back to the sixth position, where Curtis was once again out in front. This time he held on to the lead he built, winning the final set 6-3 to propel his team into the semifinals.

"UC Santa Cruz has had our number for year," explained Trinity head coach Russell McMindes. "This was a great win, an exciting win. At one point both of our guys at four and six were three points away from clinching, but those leads slipped away. (Charlie) Curtis is only a sophomore, but he has been clutch for us, which is why he is in the lineup. It was fitting for him to close it out. He showed tremendous heart tonight. This was a total team victory because not one guy ever quit."

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Gustavus Set To Host 13th Annual ITA Division III Indoor Championship

Gustavus Adolphus College is set to host the 13th annual Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) National Division III Indoor Championship at the Swanson Tennis Center in St. Peter, Minnesota.  Seven of the top 15 teams in the NCAA Division III will square off to determine the 2013 ITA National Indoor Champion.

Emory University of Atlanta, Georgia (#1 in the most recent ITA Diision III poll) looks to defend its 2012 National Indoor Championship this year as the No. 1 seed entering the tournament.  The Eagles have won the title the past two years and are striving for a record third straight ITA Indoor crown. 

Joining last year’s champion will be host Gustavus Adolphus College (#25), Kenyon College of Gambier, Ohio (#2), Johns Hopkins University of Baltimore, Maryland (#7), the University of California at Santa Cruz (#8), Trinity University of San Antonio, Texas (#9), California Lutheran University of Thousand Oaks, Calif. (#11), and North Carolina Wesleyan College of Rocky Mount, North Carolina (#12).

The tournament will begin on Friday morning at 11:30 a.m. with the No. 2 seed Kenyon Lords facing the No. 7 seed North Carolina Wesleyan Battling Bishops, and the No. 3 seed Johns Hopkins Blue Jays taking on the No. 6 seed Cal Lutheran Regals.  Later in the afternoon at 5:00 p.m., the No. 1 seed Emory Eagles will face the No. 8 seed Gustavus Adolphus Golden Gusties, and the No. 4 seed UC-Santa Cruz Banana Slugs battles the No. 5 seed Trinity Tigers. 

Saturday’s schedule has the losers of Friday’s matches playing in consolation matches beginning at 8:30 a.m.  The winners of the first round matches will play in the semifinals beginning at 2:00 p.m. later that day.  The fifth and seventh place matches will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday night.  The third place and championship matches will both begin at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday morning.

Many of the top players in NCAA Division III will be taking part in this year’s tournament, including five of the top 10 ranked singles competitors.  Top-ranked players include Aaron Skinner (#1) of Trinity, Robert Kjellberg (#2) of North Carolina Wesleyan, Paul Burgin (#4) of Kenyon, Andy Hersh (#5) of Johns Hopkins, and Mya Smith-Dennis (#8) of Gustavus.

In the doubles field, four of the top 10 tandems in the country will be present.  Top doubles teams include Tanner Brown and Erik Lim of Johns Hopkins (#4), Wade Heerboth and Robert Turlington of Kenyon (#5), Nicolas Szczurek and Jackson Isaacs of Emory (#6), and Jordan Mayer and Aaron Skinner of Trinity (#9).  

 

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