Claremont-M-S handles the pressure
Despite stress of new lineup, graduation, Stags stay strong
KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- Zhenya Pereverzin is no stranger to pressure.
As a freshman at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, Pereverzin, who now is a junior, was an NCAA Division III doubles finalist, so he was ready when he was asked, unexpectedly, to play No. 1 doubles for the Stags in the national championship quarterfinals on Monday at Kalamazoo College's Stowe Stadium. Pereverzin was asked to play doubles with sophomore Joe Dorn after Dorn's doubles partner and CMS's top player, Warren Wood, was removed from the roster because of a violation of team rules.
“I have been here before,” Pereverzin said. “I played at nationals freshman year so this is nothing new to me.”
His partner, however, was new to him as Pereverzin and Dorn had never before played doubles together.
“He had always played doubles with Warren so it was good to get a match under our belt [on Monday],” Pereverzin said.
Pereverzin and Dorn lost 8-4 to Alex Johnston and Andrew Lebovitz of Middlebury on Monday afternoon, but CMS rallied from a 2-1 deficit following doubles action to win 5-2 and advance to Tuesday's semifinals.
“This was a tough test for our team,” Pereverzin said. “We won all of our singles matches, though. We have a really deep team and everybody is able to step up. It is an asset to have such a deep team.”
Dorn was leading his No. 1 singles match 7-6 (7-4), 4-3 against Middlebury's Johnston when CMS clinched its quarterfinal victory.
“We spent the whole [season] talking about training for adversity and you never know when that moment is going to come,” CMS head coach Paul Settles said. “They are prepared for this; they are a resilient group. They believe in themselves, but one of our biggest strengths is our depth, so when we're down a soldier, they are still confident. Our No. 1 is not with us so everyone moves up a spot [in the singles lineup] and we have a direct sub at No. 1 doubles. We have such a talented bench, though.”
Alex Johnson, who graduated from CMS Saturday afternoon, “slept a lot [Sunday] night" and was ready for his No. 5 singles match Monday, which he won 6-3, 6-4 against Middlebury's Jackson Frons.
“I have been preparing for this all year so I feel like this is a great graduation present,” said Johnson, who was an accounting and psychology major and who plans to go into inventment banking in the Los Angeles area. “We are going in with as much confidence as ever. This is it and everyone is equally as confident as I am. We prepared as well as or better than the other teams here.”
CMS is scheduled to play Amherst in Tuesday's semifinals as the Jeffs defeated 2012 national champion Emory 5-3 Monday afternoon. Last year's runner-up also was knocked out Monday afternoon as Kenyon lost to Washington (Mo.) 5-1. Washington is scheduled to play No. 6 Williams, which defeated Trinity (Texas) 5-1 early Monday evening.