NCAA DIII tennis championships: Chicago’s men, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps’ women win big
The top-ranked University of Chicago Maroons downed the Case Western Reserve Spartans in the 2022 NCAA Division III Men’s Tennis Championship at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla. on Wednesday.
While the University of Chicago was also the top seed heading into the National Campus’ other championship match, they couldn’t stop Claremont-Mudd-Scripps’ Athenas from scoring their second-ever national title.
Chicago defeats Case Western, 5-2
It was a particularly tough loss for Case Western, who fell in last year’s final to Emory. The men’s doubles teams split the first two matches: Chicago’s Alex Guzvha (partnered with Sachin Das) belted a forehand to secure an 8-2 victory, then Case Western’s Sahil Dayal (alongside Vishwa Aduru) slipped a ball just past the net for an 8-3 win.
But on court one, Chicago sealed the doubles deal with an 8-4 match by No. 1 Christian Alshon and Derek Hsieh.
Alshon would later prove invaluable to Chicago, securing doubles and singles wins for the school. In his singles match – the final’s last to be completed – he surrendered a set to Case Western’s James Hopper.
But Alshon bounced back for a 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 win, cracking back-to-back aces for championship point.
“At the exact moment, it was crazy,” Alshon said of his victory. “I think I’m just in shock, and it’ll hit in later.”
At 18-0, Alshon finished the season undefeated. “I try not to put too much emphasis on my record,” he said. “[But] I wanted to prove I was the best tennis player in DIII.”
Guzvha also claimed a crucial singles match for Chicago. He swept Michael Sutanto 6-4, 6-1 on court 4 before teammate Shramay Dhawan breezed past Chaitanya Aduru (Vishwa’s older brother) with the same score on court 5.
Vishwa won Case Western’s only two matches: After his doubles victory, he rolled past Arjun Asokumar 6-4, 6-1 in singles.
“It stings, two NCAA finals in a row,” Case Western coach Todd Wojtkowski said. “The fortitude and the mental toughness to kind of keep plugging until it’s your time … Fourteen years ago, when I became the head coach here, we were unranked in the region, unranked in the country and dead-last in the conference. You take a bigger perspective, where we are now.”
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps beats top-ranked Chicago, 5-1
Wednesday also saw Claremont-Mudd-Scripps’ Athenas win their second-ever NCAA title in Orlando. The team defeated top-ranked University Chicago’s Maroons 5-1. Both schools had serious momentum behind them: Claremont-Mudd-Scripps competed in their third championship match in four seasons, while Chicago had scored 22 consecutive matches this season.
“Especially as a senior, and losing the last two years over COVID – I have no words, honestly,” said CMS’ Sarah Bahsoun. She reflected on a season that saw a relatively lukewarm start. “As we got closer as a team, all of a sudden, our tennis got so much better, too. We sort of learned, ‘Why not us?’ We started believing in ourselves and it kind of just took one match at a time, one game at a time, one point at a time. And it’s just this incredible outcome.”
CMS squeaked in two doubles wins before Chicago took a match for themselves.
First, Nikolina Batoshvili and Alisha Chulani defeated Chicago’s Sylwia Mikos and Shianna Guo, 8-6. Bahsoun and Devon Wolfe subsequently downed Nicole Geller and Lauren Park with the same score. Chicago’s Eugenia Lee and Claudia Ng earned a more decisive 8-3 victory over Gabby Lee and Sydney Lee.
But CMS proved unstoppable in their singles matches, which saw the school’s players win all six contested first sets. Bahsoun closed out her match against Lauren Park 6-1, 6-3, before Nikolina Batoshvili downed Miranda Yuan 6-4, 6-3.
Ella Brissett set off a celebration when she clinched the title, beating Chicago’s Nicole Geller, 6-4, 6-3.
“I’ve never seen a team improve as much in a year as this team, and I’ve been doing this a really long time,” said CMS coach David Schwarz.
NCAA DIII action continues Friday with men’s and women’s singles and doubles matches.
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