Williams back in first title match since 2004 with win against Washington (Mo.)
KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- Dan Greenberg never made it to a national title match as a player at Williams, despite finishing as high as fourth nationally.
Fast-forward five years from his graduation and Greenberg has the Ephs back in their first national title match since 2004 -- this time as their coach -- after a 5-1 Williams dismantling of Washington (Mo.) at Stowe Stadium in the national semifinals Tuesday.
Williams, 22-3 and winners of 11 consecutive matches, will face Claremont Mudd Scripps (30-3) Wednesday for the national championship.
[assetId:179323:DIII MEN'S TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIP ASSET]
"Being up after doubles makes a big difference," Greenberg said. "But I was most impressed with our singles play. To go out and win four first sets against a very good singles team, pretty everybody stepped up. CMS is playing very well, so we're going to have to do it again [on Wednesday]."
The Ephs' third consecutive trip to the national semifinals -- they finished third in 2012 and fourth in 2011 -- proved fruitful as they were able to jump out to a 2-1 lead after doubles thanks to wins at second and third.
Williams actually trailed in the match 1-0 after Adam and Ross Putterman of Washington bounced Trey Meyer and Adam Schidlovsky 8-2 at one doubles. But the second doubles tandem of Matt Micheli and Felix Sun got the Ephs back even with an 8-4 victory at two and Brian Astraschan and Bryan Chow gave Williams the lead with an 8-6 win at three doubles.
The Ephs came out on fire as singles play began and soon the writing was on the wall that they would be advancing to the national title match. The Ephs won first sets at one (Meyer, 6-2), two (Micheli, 6-4), three (Sun, 6-2) and five (Chow 6-2).
Chow was the first one off the courts as he quickly finished off Gary Parizher 6-2, 6-2 at five for a 3-1 Williams lead. Micheli jumped out to a 4-0 lead in his second set against Ross Putterman, winning 6-4, 6-2 to put the Ephs up 4-1.
It was Sun at three who finished off Wash U., falling behind 2-1 in the second set, but then reeling off five consecutive games for the 6-2, 6-2 win and a 5-1 Williams win.
"We spent a lot of time working on our singles play as the season progressed," Greenberg said. "We lost to CMS 5-4 because of singles, we lost to Amherst 5-4 because of singles, so we talked a lot about that and worked on it. I think that work paid off. "
Three other singles matches were still unfinished when the result was reached. Meyer was down 5-2 in the second set at one after his 6-2 first-set win. Zach Weiss lost a first-set tiebreaker at four 7-6, and Howie Weiss, after dropping the first set at six singles 6-4, roared back to take set two 6-1.
Williams is 3-3 overall in national championship matches, winning titles in 1999. 2001 and 2002 and finishing as the runner-up nationally in 1998, 2003 and 2004. From 1998 through 2004, Williams played in six of seven championship matches.