CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – The University of Chicago tennis teams put together one of the best single-day performances in school history at day one of the NCAA Division III Singles & Doubles Championships on Thursday.
With the NCAA team championships concluded on Wednesday, the men's and women's individual NCAA tournaments kicked off with the 32-player singles draws and the 16-team doubles brackets.
UChicago's men came out firing and utilized clutch play to go a perfect 5-0 in their matches. In the process, the Maroons racked up four All-American honors – their most ever in a single season. Junior Nicolas Chua and freshman Erik Kerrigan became the second and third UChicago men to ever reach the NCAA singles quarterfinals – the feat was previously accomplished by Will Zhang in 2009. Kerrigan and freshman teammate Ninan Kumar also clinched All-American status as a doubles tandem by winning their opening match. They are the first Maroon duo to ever reach the NCAA men's quarterfinals in doubles.
Chua was first on the courts making his third-straight NCAA singles tournament appearance. After enduring a rough first set, the junior tore through the next four sets handily. His opening opponent – William de Quant of Middlebury College – seized the first set 6-3. But Chua flew past de Quant from that point on, dominating the second and third sets by matching 6-1 scores.
His next bout featured a familiar conference foe as the Maroon lefty squared off with No. 8 seed Daniel Levine of Carnegie Mellon University. After Levine rallied to tie the first set 4-4, Chua took the next two games and ultimately the set, 6-4. The second set was all Chua as he captured six of the final seven games to win 6-4, 6-2.
Kerrigan was the last player on the court in the opening round. After grinding out a 7-6 opening set tiebreaker, the UChicago freshman held sway in the second set and served out the match at 6-3 over Colby College's Vlad Murad. The second round opponent was Emory University's Jonathan Jemison, who was riding a nine-match singles winning streak. However, Kerrigan proved too much to handle by winning the first set 6-4 and then dominating the subsequent set 6-0 to emphatically advance into the quarterfinals.
Kerrigan didn't have much time to rest; he was due to play a late afternoon doubles match with Kumar shortly after concluding singles. The Maroon freshmen raced out to a 4-0 lead and ultimately breezed through the first set 6-2. However, their opposition from Southwestern University responded with a 6-3 victory in the second set. In the decisive third set, UChicago broke out to a 5-0 lead before ultimately winning 6-3.
On the women's half, junior Ariana Iranpour competed in NCAA singles for the third time in her career. She drew No. 3-seed Caroline Casper (Pomona-Pitzer) in the round of 32. The two players exchanged 6-2 set victories before Casper prevailed in the third, 6-1. Iranpour concluded her season with a 15-9 singles record.
"I'm really pleased with the way we competed today and with how we were able to raise our level and come away with some real quality wins," said Head Coach Jay Tee. "This is such a tough tournament and for us to see some success here is encouraging. It's only going to get harder tomorrow, but if the guys come out with the same focus, we have the ability to continue our run. For Ariana, it's a tough way to go out as a senior. But she really fought hard and gave it all she had – not only today, but for her entire career."
- Friday, May 26 @ 10:00 AM (ET) – UChicago at NCAA Division III Singles and Doubles Championships (Chattanooga, Tenn.)