How Felix got his groove back
Williams' Sun overcomes self-doubt to clinch semifinal win
KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- Two years ago, Felix Sun was the No. 2-ranked NCAA Division III player in the country and was playing No. 1 for the Williams Ephs. Improvement from a couple of his teammates, combined with some doubt in his strokes and Sun now is playing No. 3 singles and No. 2 doubles.
Sun's victory Tuesday evening against Elite 89 Award winner Tim Noack of Washington (Mo.) clinched a 5-1 semifinal victory for the Ephs and put them in Wednesday afternoon's championship match against top-ranked Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. Sun beat Noack 6-2, 6-2 after he and Matt Micheli defeated the Bears' Josh Cogan and Kareem Farah in doubles action 8-4.
“Felix has had a tough year, so for him to step up and clinch it is definitely special for us,” Williams coach Dan Greenberg said. “Felix was No. 2 in the country as a sophomore and he used to play No. 1 for us, but other guys got better and I think that was a hit to his confidence. He never stopped working on his game though.”
A native of Potomac, Md., Sun is a chemistry major at Williams.
“Every match is even more meaningful because any match this week could have been our last,” Sun said. “I have always had confidence in my game, but my teammates are fabulous players; besides, you can get points from anywhere in the lineup, so I am happy where I am playing now.”
The Ephs were ranked No. 6 in the country at the end of the regular season.
“This has been a tough year for me, for sure,” Sun said. “I struggled early, trying to find my game and I guess I did lose some trust in my strokes. I was over-analyzing everything and I was a little too tight.”
His teammates helped Sun regain his stroke, and his confidence.
“We really are a family,” he said. “We have been through so much this year, some real highs and some real lows too, but on the court and off it, we have each others' backs.”
Williams could become the first school since Emory in 2006 to win the men's and women's NCAA DIII national championships in the same year. The Williams women, who are going for six consecutive national titles, are scheduled to play Emory on Wednesday morning.
“What makes this team so special is that everyone truly cares about the team and everyone brings it,” Greenberg said. “We have always been a good doubles team, but singles is where we have put in a lot of work this season. [Wednesday] we are playing a team that is playing the best tennis we've seen in this division, but if we step it up one more notch, we'll be in it.”