NCAA Division III Champions Fall on the First Day of the ITA National Small College Championships

NCAA Division III Champions Fall on the First Day of the
ITA National Small College Championships

MOBILE, Ala. – Several top seeds were knocked out of the ITA National Small College Championships first round of play today, including the 2008 NCAA Men’s Singles Champion, Michael Greenberg of Kenyon, the 2009 NCAA Women’s Singles Champion, Lorne McManigle of Emory and the 2009 NCAA Women’s Doubles Champions, Kendra Higgins and Chrissy Hu of Chicago University.

These championships, presented by the United States Tennis Association (USTA), are being hosted by the Copeland-Cox Tennis Center, the world's largest public tennis facility, for the third consecutive year.

Division III women’s singles No. 1 seed, Lorne McManigle of Emory University, quickly dropped the first set, 6-1, to two-time ITA All-American Liz Lewis of Chapman University, before storming back to take the second set, 6-3. Lewis proved to be too much to handle as she was able to put away the reigning NCAA Women’s Singles Champion, 7-5, advancing to tomorrow’s semifinals, where she will face a familiar foe, Julia Browne from Tufts University.

Lewis and Browne met in the third-place match at this tournament last year with Lewis winning in straight sets 6-2, 6-4. However, Browne had the final say along with partner Meghan McCooey, as the Tufts doubles team defeated Lewis and partner Kelley Fox at the 2009 NCAA Division III Championships.

Another former NCAA singles champion who was surprisingly upset today was Mike Greenberg of Kenyon University, who finished atop of the Campbell/ITA College Tennis Rankings in the spring of 2008.

Greenberg, who has been struggling with some injuries since the end of last season, was dismissed in straight sets, 6-4, 6-1, to Robbi Erani of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. The two teams met in the 2009 ITA Men’s Team Indoor Third-Place Match, though neither player was matched against one another with Greenberg playing No. 1 singles, while Erani was in the No. 3 position.

“I haven't really seen him play too much other than this morning,” said Greenberg. “Robbie played a good match all the way through. You find that the players who are in the best shape are going to have the best chances at winning tournaments like these, especially with the heat and humidity you find in Mobile.”

“If I can stay healthy I still have a lot of confidence in my ability to win another singles title and bring Kenyon our first team title,” Greenberg, said. “But I have come to believe that those specific goals can only be achieved if you're fighting to reach them for the right reasons.”

However, the biggest surprise of the day belonged to the Chicago duo of Kendra Higgins and Chrissy Hu, who won the NCAA Division III Doubles title just five months ago. Today, they were not only upset by an upstart doubles team from The College of New Jersey, but were also knocked off by McManigle and Zahra Dawson of Emory, placing them in tomorrow’s seventh-place match.

Today’s format consisted of one round of singles play for both men and women while the women played two rounds of doubles, with the men only playing one. This allowed TCNJ partners Jackie Shtemberg and Felice Trenh to stay hot advancing to the finals versus defending Division III Doubles Champions, Browne and McCooey of Tufts.

Even with so many upsets taking place in the Division III draws, it should not go unnoticed that the top seeds in the NAIA Men’s Singles draw were each issued early exits. Lindenwood’s Caio Claudino, a freshman from Brazil, took top-seeded Remy Caffardo of Graceland University to three sets, posting a 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 upset. Matthijs Bolsius of Azusa Pacific, the other top seed, had to retire in the second set due to a shoulder injury but was unable to record a single point against local favorite Alberto Gonzalez of the highly-successful Auburn-Montgomery program.

Play resumes Friday with men’s singles at 8:30 am CDT and men’s singles at 10:30 am CDT. The singles matches will be followed by two rounds of men’s doubles and one final round of women’s doubles.

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