CLAREMONT, Calif. – Against a stacked Bowdoin College team, the University of Chicago men's tennis team fought to the end in a NCAA Division III semifinal loss that was much closer than its 5-0 score Tuesday at Biszantz Family Tennis Center.
The Maroons (19-5) struggled early in doubles play, as the third-ranked Polar Bears (23-1) jumped out to a 3-0 lead and appeared primed to take an easy route into Wednesday's national title match.
UChicago, however, had other plans, as the Maroons fought back in singles, with Erik Kerrigan (No. 1), Nicolas Chua (No. 2), and Jeremy Yuan (No. 4) all winning their opening sets. At No. 6, Charlie Pei rebounded from a first-set loss to win 7-5 and force a third set.
But the Bears were able to earn two wins at No. 3 and No. 5 singles before those matches were decided – in a match that lasted three hours and 15 minutes – to seal their second trip to the national final in the past three seasons.
"We came out just a tad slow in doubles and Bowdoin really seized the momentum and didn't give us many opportunities to get back in the match," Maroons Head Coach Jay Tee said. "I thought we showed what we were capable of in singles, but a 0-3 hole against a team that tough is a tall task."
UChicago will say goodbye to a very important senior class – Chua, Tsai, David Liu, Peter Leung and Bobby Bethke – who led the Maroons to four-straight NCAA appearances, three Final Fours and this season's first-ever University Athletic Association championship. Chua, however, joins teammates Yuan, Kerrigan and Tyler Raclin, who will compete in the upcoming NCAA Division III singles and doubles championships, set to begin Thursday.
"It was a tough ending to a great season, but I'm still unbelievably proud of this team and feel privileged to be able to coach them," added Tee.
"The entire team, and especially our senior class, has really taken our program to another level and put it on the map. More importantly, they've done it the right way and have been unbelievable ambassadors for the University of Chicago and Division III tennis as a whole. They've been a great group of men to be around for four years and we will miss them unbelievably."
NCAA Division III Team Championship Semifinals
#3 Bowdoin 5, #7 UChicago 0
1. Grant Urken (BOWDOIN) vs. Kerrigan, Erik (UCM) 6-7 (3-7), 6-3, unfinished
2. Luke Tercek (BOWDOIN) vs. Chua, Nicolas (UCM) 6-7 (2-7), 5-5, unfinished
3. Kyle Wolfe (BOWDOIN) def. Tsai, Luke (UCM) 6-3, 6-1
4. Yangeng Jiang (BOWDOIN) vs. Yuan, Jeremy (UCM) 2-6, 7-6 (8-6), 0-1, unfinished
5. Gil Roddy (BOWDOIN) def. Liu, David (UCM) 6-4, 6-4
6. Justin Patel (BOWDOIN) vs. Pei, Charlie (UCM) 6-4, 5-7, 0-1, unfinished
1. Grant Urken/Luke Tercek (BOWDOIN) def. Kerrigan, Erik/Kumar, Ninan (UCM) 8-4
2. Kyle Wolfe/Yangeng Jiang (BOWDOIN) def. Raclin, Tyler/Yuan, Jeremy (UCM) 8-6
3. Gil Roddy/Larry Zhao (BOWDOIN) def. Chua, Nicolas/Liu, David (UCM) 8-2