Top Seeds Through to Semifinals of 2012 ITA Division III National Men’s Team Indoor Championship

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Top Seeds Through to Semifinals of
2012 ITA Division III National Men’s Team Indoor Championship
Teams will play again on Saturday at 2 pm (CT) for a chance to advance to finals

ST. PETER, Minn. – It wasn’t easy, but the top four seeds were able to win their quarterfinal matches to stay alive in the main draw of the 2012 ITA Division III National Men’s Team Indoor Championship, hosted by Gustavus Adolphus College at the Swanson Tennis Center in St. Peter, Minn. Emory, Washington University, UC Santa Cruz, and Kenyon all fell behind after doubles play, but rallied in singles action to advance. The updated draw can be found here.

The first two matches of the day pitted the three seed UC Santa Cruz up against sixth-seeded Trinity, along with two seed Washington University against seventh-seeded Chicago.

Trinity came out of the gates quickly in doubles, claiming an 8-2 victory at the second spot for an early 1-0 lead over the favored Banana Slugs. The Tigers extended their lead to 2-0 thanks to a tough 8-6 victory on line one by Erick DelaFuente and Max Frey, ranked No. 5 in the latest Campbell/ITA College Tennis Rankings. UC Santa Cruz was able to salvage one point from doubles play, taking the match at three doubles 8-6, but Trinity still held a 2-1 lead moving into singles.

The turnaround began soon after singles got underway, with the Banana Slugs taking lines one and three in straight sets to take a 3-2 lead. At the second position, Trinity’s Jacob Straus battled to win the first set in a tiebreak eight points to six against the Banana Slugs’ Erich Koeing. The second set was tight early, but Koenig was able to secure a break in the middle of the set to shift momentum in his favor for the first time. He was able to close out the second set 6-4, following that up with a nearly flawless 6-0 third set to put yet another point on the board for UC Santa Cruz.

Another close three-set match would provide the clinching point for the Banana Slugs. At the fourth spot, the Tigers’ Greg Haugen took the first set from UC Santa Cruz’s Erik Rosner 6-3 thanks to earning an early break. The second set remained on serve until the final game, when Rosner was able to break to take the set 6-4 and force a decisive third. Both players continued to play at a high level throughout the duration of the final set, and it was Rosner who was able to prevail to move his team into the semifinals.

“I am really proud of our effort today,” UC Santa Cruz head coach Bryce Parmelly said. “We lost one and two doubles, but three managed to play a great game at 7-6 to serve out the win at three. We actually felt surprisingly good heading into singles despite being down 2-1. I thought we competed well throughout singles. Our energy and effort were really good today.”

Washington University jumped out to a solid start in doubles, winning line two by an impressive 8-1 score to claim the first point of the match. The other two doubles courts were much more competitive, and the Maroons were able to capitalize by taking both. At line three, Zsolt Szabo and Krishna Ravella delivered an 8-5 victory to get Chicago on the board, which was followed up with an 8-6 triumph at the first position by Troy Brinker and Jan Stefanski. The Maroons took a 2-1 lead into singles play.

Washington University’s top player Adam Putterman, ranked third in the Campbell/ITA College Tennis Singles Rankings, made quick work of Brinker at the first singles spot to even the overall score at 2-2. The Bears would move ahead 3-2 with the next completed singles match, a comprehensive 6-4, 6-2 victory for Gary Parizher. The momentum swung heavily back in the favor of the Maroons with the next match off court, a titanic three-set clash. Washington University’s Ross Putterman breezed through the first set 6-1 against Stefanski. The second set was much tighter, but Putterman was still able to secure an early break. Putterman continued to hold serve, earning an opportunity to serve out the win at 5-4. It appeared he would be able to do so easily, up three match points at 40-0, but Stefanski fought off all three of them, eventually breaking serve. Stefanski held serve for 6-5, backing that up with another break of serve to win the set 7-5. Each player held to open the final set, but Stefanski won the final five games of the match for a stunning 1-6, 7-5, 6-1 victory.

The Maroons held early control of two of the final three matches on court, looking to be in solid position for the upset. However, the Bears Kareem Farah closed out a tough 7-5, 6-2 decision at line four, inching Washington University ahead once again. Chicago’s Deepak Sabada took the matchup at the sixth spot, winning the first set easily before battling back from being down an early break in the second. Sabada’s victory tied the overall score at 4-4, making the fifth spot the deciding match.

The Bears’ Bryan Haywood dropped the opening set 6-2 to Szabo, and fell behind a break at 4-2 in the second. He was able to get the break back, but still had to hold trailing 5-4 to stay in the match; he held successfully, eventually forcing the set into a tiebreak. The tiebreak was a battle, with Haywood managing to claw out the win seven points to five. Three holds of serve opened up the final set, but Haywood seized momentum with a break of Szabo for a 3-1 lead. He ripped a forehand return winner on break point in Szabo’s next service game for a 5-1 lead, successfully serving out the win in the next game to keep Washington University in the main draw.

“We played them twice last year,” Washington University head coach Roger Fullmer explained. “They beat us at home, breaking a long home-winning streak we had, and then we beat them at the conference tournament. I thought they played really well today. Kareem Farah is without a doubt the MVP for the Bears on day one. They had the momentum after we let triple match point slip away at two singles. We ended up losing that match, but Kareem switched the momentum back to our side with his win.”

Wash U Advances
Wash U's Bryan Haywood is swarmed by his teammates
after clinching the victory for the Bears

In the evening matches, the top seed Emory was up against host institution Gustavus Adolphus, while four seed Kenyon faced off against fifth-seeded Pomona-Pitzer.

The home team got off to a quick start thanks to top doubles pair Amrik Donkena and Mya Smith-Dennis, ranked No. 7 in the Campbell/ITA College Tennis Doubles Rankings. The Gustie duo claimed line one 8-3, giving Gustavus the quick 1-0 lead. The lead was short-lived, however, as the Emory Eagles took the second spot 8-3. The final doubles match at the third spot was on serve until 3-3, when Juan Luis Chu and Marcel Gyswyt of Gustavus broke for a 4-3 lead. The Eagle tandem of Brian Kowalski and Will Humphreys got the break back to even the score at 5-5. The match remained on serve until 8-8, when a tiebreak was forced to determine the winner. The Gusties won the first four points in the tiebreak, never letting the Eagles have a glimmer of hope; Chu and Gyswyt took the tiebreak seven points to two.

Emory flexed its muscles in singles action, winning a couple of quick matches in two sets to claim its first lead of the night at 3-2 in the overall score. The match at the first singles position also appeared to be going to the Eagles quickly, but Gustavus’ Donkena was able to hang with Campbell/ITA No. 2 Dillon Pottish. Donkena, ranked No. 8 nationally, lost the opening set 6-1, but began to find his rhythm at the end of the first set. He was able to stay in the majority of the rallies in the second set, eventually breaking Pottish for a 4-3 lead. Donkena protected his serve the rest of the set, taking it 6-4. Pottish gained the upper hand early in the final set, showing no signs of letting Donkena find a way back into the match. Pottish effectively controlled the majority of the points in the third, wearing down Donkena for a 6-1 triumph.

Golden Gustie Crowd
The Gusties had a good crowd on hand to watch
their match against top seed Emory

Despite being down 4-2, the Golden Gusties would not go away without a fight. The final three matches on court would all end with the victor having to battle to a 6-4 in the third set decision. Chu was able to keep Gustavus in the match with his three-set win at line three. He was able to break Emory’ Ian Wagner for the set at 5-4, but Wagner shook off the disappointment to win the second set going away 6-1. The final set was a back-and-forth affair, with neither player able to grad a decisive advantage. Chu finally broke Wagner for a 5-4 lead. The final game wasn’t an easy close-out for Chu, but he finished off the emotional encounter when Wagner’s forehand sailed long on match point.

Emory clinched the match victory with the win at the fifth position. The Eagles’ Simon Lavoie-Perusse was locked in a battle of a first set with Gustavus’ Tyler Johnson. The set eventually went into a tiebreak, which Lavoie-Perusse took the final four points of to win the set. Momentum shifted back-and-forth a few times in the second set, but Johnson earned a chance to serve for the set, which he did so successfully when Lavoie-Perusse missed a forehand wildly. The Eagle player shook off the second set disappointment, breaking serve early in the final set for a 3-1 lead. Lavoie-Perusse seemed poised to serve out the clincher for his team, but was stunningly broken at love at 5-3. With much of the crowd still in the stands, Johnson stepped up to serve trailing 5-4, but with all momentum on his side. However, Johnson played a tight game, missing a couple of easy volleys to fall behind match points. Lavoie-Perusse came up with a solid passing shot on match point that Johnson couldn’t return, sending Emory into the semifinals.

Fourth-seed Kenyon got off to a rough start in its match with Pomona-Pitzer, having to fight through a tiebreak at line one just to claim one point in doubles action. The Sagehens took the second spot 8-4 and the third spot 8-5. The matchup at the first position was dominated by the servers. In the tiebreak, Pomona’s Tommy Meyer and Uday Singh got out to a 4-1 lead, ready to give the Sagehens the sweep of doubles play. It was not to be, as the Lords’ Michael Razumovsky and CJ Williams reeled off the final six points of the match to salvage a point for Kenyon.

Singles play didn’t get off to a stellar start for the Lords either, as Pomona won the first set at the second and third spots. Paul Burgin was able to win the first set in a tiebreak at line one against the Sagehens’ Meyer, taking the second set 6-3 to begin turning the match in favor of Kenyon. The matches at lines two and three followed similar scripts, as Razumovsky and CJ Williams staved off defeat in tight 7-5 second sets to force decisive thirds. Razumovsky was able to get out to a big lead early, closing out Chris Weichert 6-3 in the third, but Williams had a tougher time putting away Max Sabel. Williams was eventually able to claim another point for the Lords with a 6-3 in the third triumph, leaving them one point short of advancing.

Kenyon continued its solid play in singles at the bottom of the lineup. At the fourth spot, the Lords’ Wade Heerboth took the first set from Singh 6-3, needing just one final set to deliver the clinching victory. Singh broke serve early in the second set, attempting to turn the match around in his favor, but it was not to be. Heerboth got the set back on serve, putting the pressure on Singh, who was trying to keep his team’s hopes alive. Singh was not able to do so, as Heerboth took a tough second set 6-4.

“This is the third time we have played Pomona-Pitzer in the last five or six years, and every match has been a war,” Kenyon head coach Scott Thielke explained. “We fell behind 2-1 after doubles and had to battle back in singles. We were down a set at No. 2 singles and came back to win 6-3 in the third. At No. 3 singles, we were down a set and 4-1, but came back to win 6-3 in the third. I am extremely proud of the way we fought tonight, but if we are going to have any chance against Emory, we have to play much better doubles.”

Play continues on Saturday at 8:30 am (CT) with back draw action.

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