Men’s tennis hosts UAAs, defeats Brandeis 5–2 to place third
For the first time in Carnegie Mellon’s history, the men’s tennis team has achieved a national ranking of number seven. The Tartans geared up last weekend to host the University Athletic Association (UAA) Championships after topping the previous seventh-ranked team, Kenyon College, a few weeks ago. Entering the UAAs as the third seed, the Tartans blew past Case Western Reserve University’s Spartans 6–3 to earn a spot in the semifinals against Emory University’s number-three Eagles. The Eagles stopped the Tartans short of competing for the title the next day with a decisive 5–1 win, but the Tartans rallied back to defeat Brandeis University the next day for third place, 5–2. The Tartans improve to 18–5 after this tennis-packed weekend.
The Tartans were met with surprising resistance the first day and found themselves at a 2–1 deficit after doubles play. The Spartans came out swinging and surprised the Tartans at first and third doubles, but the duo of juniors Bobby MacTaggart and Alex Nemerov fought back to snatch a 8–5 win.
“We’ve played Case before, but they caught us off guard with some relentless doubles play,” Nemerov said. “I think everyone was motivated to play better in singles because of it.”
Adding a few easy points to the total were senior James Muliawan, who topped his opponent 6–2, 6–0 at third singles, and first-year Duke Miller, who finished just minutes later with a 6–2, 6–3 win at fourth singles. MacTaggart overpowered his opponent in three sets, 6–3, 6–7 (4), 6–3, to give the Tartans a 4–3 lead. Senior Jon Spero had a tough, grinding match against Case’s Sean Carr, but came out victorious in a third-set tiebreak, 6–3, 6–7 (2), 10–4. Rounding out the fifth win was sophomore Jeremy King ,making his singles debut, who easily won 6–1, 6–3.
Despite their win over the Spartans, the Tartans were anxious going into their match against rival and third-ranked Emory. Since matches are played to decision, the Tartans ended their run at a UAA title with a 5–1 loss.
The lone win came from first doubles, with Muliawan and King winning three straight games after being down 6–7.
“We were hanging on after doubles, but the momentum just wasn’t there,” senior Niko Ljuboja said. “In singles, Emory was definitely sharper, but a couple of our guys could have pulled out wins if we played the matches out. We just need to maintain our focus for tomorrow if we want to do well.”
Spero added, “We really wanted to beat Emory but came up short. We played spectacular doubles, but they were a little too good at two and three. They have arguably the two best singles players in the whole country, so losses at the top two spots were understandable. I thought we played a good match, and I think it goes to show how strong Emory is after they beat Wash. U. fairlycomfortably.”
The Tartans entered their third-place match with high expectations against Brandeis. Eager for redemption from Saturday’s loss, the Tartans quickly took the lead 2–1 after taking first and third doubles. Muliawan and King won 8–5, while Miller and Ljuboja slammed their opponents by the same score.
First off the courts was Muliawan, who breezed by his opponent 6–3, 6–1, followed by Nemerov, who pulled out a 7–5, 6–1 win over Brandeis’ number-one player, Nick White.
Miller struggled a bit at fourth singles but gave the Tartans the needed fifth win, 6–2, 5–7, 7–5. Spero and King were also up a set when play concluded, a small demonstration of why the Tartans are now ranked seventh in the nation.
“We really enjoyed hosting and it was a treat for the seniors,” Spero remarked. “We are looking forward to a home match against W & L next weekend, and if we winthat, it’s looking very good for us to host an NCAA regional on graduation weekend. We didn’t play our best tennis of the season, but we played to our seed and got the job done in both of the matches we needed to win.”
The Tartans will host their final match of the season against Washington and Lee University next Saturday at 12 p.m.