KALAMAZOO, Mich. – The University of Chicago men's tennis team won the doubles title and earned both spots in the singles final to cap a historic day at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Central Region Championships on Sunday.
At the onset of the tournament's third day, the Maroons were well-represented with four of the eight singles players and four of the eight doubles teams remaining in the draw. Quarterfinal action was on tap to start the morning session.
Defending ITA regional doubles champions Nicolas Chua and David Liu were eliminated in the quarterfinals by Washington University-St. Louis 8-5. But the freshman duo of Ninan Kumar and Erik Kerrigan avenged their teammates, defeating Wabash College 8-5 and the Washington-St. Louis pairing 8-4.
On the other side of the doubles bracket, junior Peter Leung and sophomore Charlie Pei knocked off the No. 2-seeds from host Kalamazoo College by an 8-5 score. Senior Max Hawkins and freshman Tyler Raclin continued their run with an 8-5 win over DePauw University. The two Maroon tandems then faced off in the semifinals, with Hawkins and Raclin coming away with the 8-5 win.
For the first time in school history, two UChicago pairings faced off in the final. Hawkins/Raclin emerged victorious over Kumar/Kerrigan 6-2, 6-2 to clinch the title. Hawkins and Raclin automatically advance to the 2016 ITA Oracle Cup (Oct. 13-16) to take on the doubles champions from the other ITA Regional sites.
In singles action, two-time defending ITA Regional champion Chua advanced to the semifinals with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Washington-St. Louis. Leung was there to meet him in the semi after advancing via walkover the previous night. Leung booked his spot in the title match by defeating Chua 6-2, 6-2.
Pei took the first set of his quarterfinal matchup against the No. 1-seed from Kalamazoo College, but ultimately fell in three sets 4-6, 6-3, 6-3. Liu knocked off the No. 4-seed from Washington-St. Louis 6-3, 6-4 to earn a semifinal berth versus Kalamazoo. In the semi, Liu mounted a fierce rally to take the first set in a tiebreaker 7-6 and then blazed through the second set 6-1 to reach the final.
Leung and Liu will play each other on Monday on UChicago's campus for the singles title and the opportunity to advance to the ITA Oracle Cup alongside their doubles teammates Raclin and Hawkins. This marks the third-straight year that UChicago has captured the singles and doubles titles at ITA Regionals.
"All in all, I'm really happy with the way the weekend went for us," said Head Coach Jay Tee. "Obviously winning the titles was great, but what really impressed me was how well all nine guys competed. Winning our first 33 matches of the tournament doesn't happen unless everyone is locked in and focused. We pulled out a ton of good wins despite not playing our best, which I think is a sign of a good team. We still have a bunch of work to do to get where we want, but I think we are off to a good start."