The 17th-ranked Kenyon College Lords came back from a deficit after doubles play to defeat seventh-ranked Case Western Reserve University 5-2 in the third round of the 2016 NCAA Division III Men’s Tennis Championships, advancing to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament.
The Lords, who improved to 14-9 on the season with the win, will advance to the NCAA Quarterfinals in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where they will take on top-ranked Emory University on Monday, May 23rd.
Kenyon got on the board first in the match, as the Lords’ third doubles pairing on Mike Roberts and Nicholas Paolucci withstood a late comeback attempt from CWRU freshmen John Benedetto and David Zakhodin. After the Lords’ duo jumped out a 7-3 lead in the contest, the Spartans pairing won three straight games to bring the score to 7-6, before Kenyon broke the Case Western Reserve serve to clinch the match. However, seniors CJ Krimbill and Louis Stuerke, the top-ranked pairing in the Central Region, evened the match for the Spartans with an 8-4 victory at first doubles over the region’s third-ranked duo of Sam Geier and Tristan Kaye.
Case Western Reserve juniors James Fojtasek and Phil Gruber would ultimately pull out a hard-fought 8-6 win in the second doubles match over Kenyon’s Michael Liu and Robert Turlington. The Spartans’ pairing held a 7-4 lead in the match before Kenyon pulled within a game, but CWRU’s duo would hold on for the win, putting the team just three singles wins away from a berth into the NCAA Quarterfinals.
However, Kenyon would not drop another match in the contest, en route to the tournament win. Paolucci tied the match for the Lords with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Stuerke at fourth singles, and at sixth singles, Max Smith topped Gruber 6-4, 6-0 to give Kenyon a 3-2 lead. At third singles Turlington added a 6-2, 6-1 win over freshman Stroup to bring the Lords within a match of clinching the win.
The Spartans were up a set and leading in the second set on two of the other three courts in action, turning all the attention to the first singles match between Geier, ranked first in the region, and Krimbill, ranked third. Geier would pull out the first set 7-5, and then clinch the match for Kenyon win with a 7-5 win in the second set as well.
At the time play was stopped due to decision, CWRU’s Fojtasek held a 6-3, 6-2 lead in the second singles match over Liu, and junior Joshua Dughi led Roberts 6-3, 5-1 in the fifth singles contest.
With the loss, the Spartans season came to a close with a 22-8 overall record, as the team matched the school record for wins in a season, set during the 2012-13 campaign.