Altamonte Springs, Fla. – In the history of the University Athletic Association (UAA), only three schools laid claim to the conference crown in men's tennis. Emory University owns 26 titles, with three for Washington University – St. Louis and one for Brandeis University.
By Saturday afternoon, that number increased to four. The University of Chicago men's tennis team made history by capturing the program's first-ever UAA Championship, and took down the three-time defending champs Emory to do it.
The three-day tournament in Florida featured an eight-team draw. The Eagles (16-4 record) and the Maroons (16-4) were the top two seeds. They met previously at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Indoor Championship on February 24, which Emory edged out 5-4.
The score stood at 1-1 early on in doubles, with the two teams exchanging 8-2 score lines. The No. 2 duo of sophomore Tyler Raclin and first-year Jeremy Yuan avenged an earlier loss by running away with their match. The momentum turned to UChicago when the No. 1 pairing of sophomores Erik Kerrigan and Ninan Kumar earned a 9-7 win to put their team ahead.
Once singles play commenced, the Maroons could taste the victory and would not be denied. Junior Charlie Pei and senior Peter Leung boosted the squad to a 4-1 lead after straight-set wins at No. 5 and No. 6, respectively. It was first-year Jeremy Yuan who earned the decisive fifth team point with a three-set triumph at the No. 4 position (6-2, 1-6, 6-3). Senior Nicolas Chua and Luke Tsai then wrapped up their victories at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, which featured 7-6 tiebreakers in four of the five sets.
"What a great day for our program, players and university," said Head Coach Jay Tee. "I'm incredibly proud of the men we have on our team and their grit and determination throughout the weekend, especially in the finals. Emory is such a tough team and they've gotten the best of us many times in the past. I'm especially happy for our seniors who have sacrificed so much for the team over the past four years and I'm happy they finally get to raise that trophy."
The Maroons received the UAA's automatic berth into the NCAA Division III Championship field, marking the fourth-straight year that the team has qualified for the postseason. They will learn their draw and next opponent on Monday, May 7 with the release of the NCAA bracket.
UChicago 7, Emory 2
1. Hayden Cassone (EMORY) def. Erik Kerrigan (UC) 0-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7-2)
2. Nicolas Chua (UC) def. Alec Josepher (EMORY) 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-5)
3. Luke Tsai (UC) def. Adrien Bouchet (EMORY) 7-6 (7-5), 6-7, 11-9
4. Jeremy Yuan (UC) def. Andrew Harrington (EMORY) 6-2, 1-6, 6-3
5. Charlie Pei (UC) def. Scott Rubinstein (EMORY) 6-4, 6-0
6. Peter Leung (UC) def. James Spaulding (EMORY) 6-4, 6-4
1. Erik Kerrigan/Ninan Kumar (UC) vs. Scott Rubinstein/James Spaulding (EMORY) 9-7
2. Tyler Raclin/Jeremy Yuan (UC) vs. Adrien Bouchet/Max Renke (EMORY) 8-2
3. Andrew Harrington/Hayden Cassone (EMORY) def. Nicolas Chua/Bobby Bethke (UC) 8-2