CLEVELAND – The third-ranked University of Chicago men's tennis team captured its first-ever Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Division III Men's Indoor Team National Championship with a 5-3 victory over Emory University on Sunday afternoon.
The finals pitted the University Athletic Association rivals – the tournament's top two seeds – against each other for the first time this year. Emory eked out a 5-4 win against UChicago in the semifinals of the same competition last season only to see the Maroons take revenge by a 7-2 score in the UAA championship final.
UChicago remained unbeaten as a team this season with a 9-0 record, while the No. 4-ranked Eagles (4-2) suffered its second loss of the campaign.
The Maroons seized a crucial early edge in the doubles session, winning the top two matches with the tandems of junior Tyler Raclin/sophomore Jeremy Yuan and juniors Erik Kerrigan/Ninan Kumar, respectively. First-year Joshua Xu and senior Charlie Pei nearly made it a sweep at No. 3, but Emory snatched the tiebreak win 8-7 (9-7) for its first victory of the contest.
Xu made short work of his opponent (6-1, 6-3) at No. 6 singles to push the Maroons ahead 3-1 at the start of singles play, but the Eagles took the first and third spots to even things up.
The three remaining matchups offered no obvious resolution to the deadlocked contest. Sophomore Alejandro Rodriguez lost the first set at No. 4 in a narrow 7-6 (7-4) decision. Fellow sophomore Yuan responded to a 6-3 setback with a 6-2 win to level matters in the second position, while in the fifth spot, first-year Alex Guzhva earned a 6-4 result only to drop the next set 6-2.
With the match still hanging in the balance, Yuan pulled out an essential 6-4 win in the third set to put the Maroons on the verge of the title. Guzhva then clinched with his own 6-3 third-set victory, as his opponent sprayed a backhand wide into the doubles alley on match point.
"I'm in awe of the way our guys competed and refused to give up," said Head Coach Jay Tee. "At times, it didn't look like it was going to be our day. We had a match point at No. 3 doubles and didn't get it, set points at No. 4 singles, lost four of six first sets, and were down a break in all three third sets. But the team never gave up. It was an honor and privilege to share the same court as these guys and we are really going to enjoy this one together as a team."
UChicago 5, Emory 3
1. Jonathan Jemison (EU) def. Erik Kerrigan (UC) 6-2, 6-4
2. Jeremy Yuan (UC) def. Hayden Cassone (EU) 3-6, 6-2, 6-4
3. Adrien Bouchet (EU) def. Charlie Pei (UC) 7-5, 6-3
4. Antonio Mora (EU) vs. Alejandro Rodriguez (UC) 7-6 (7-4), 2-6, 4-0 unfinished
5. Alex Guzhva (UC) def. Andrew Esses (EU) 6-4, 2-6, 6-3
6. Joshua Xu (UC) def. Sahil Raina (EU) 6-1, 6-3
1. Tyler Raclin/Jeremy Yuan (UC) def. Jonathan Jemison/Adrien Bouchet (EU) 8-6
2. Erik Kerrigan/Ninan Kumar (UC) def. James Spaulding/Will Wanner (EU) 8-3
3. Antonio Mora/Hayden Cassone (EU) def. Joshua Xu/Charlie Pei (UC) 8-7 (9-7)
- Tuesday, March 26 @ 4:00 PM (PT) – UChicago at Pomona-Pitzer