Trinity (TX) Claims First ITA Division III National Men’s Team Indoor
Championship in Program History
Tigers edge Emory 5-4, Washington-St. Louis finishes in third
ST. PETER, Minn. (Feb. 22) – The Trinity (TX) University Tigers capped off a tremendous weekend by defeating the Emory Eagles 5-4 in the finals of the 2015 ITA Division III National Men’s Team Indoor Championship, hosted by Gustavus Adolphus College, claiming their first ever title in the prestigious national championship. This was also Trinity’s first appearance in the championship match, while Emory competed in the finals for a record ninth season.
As was the case with most of the matches this weekend, doubles proved to be crucial, with all three courts being tightly contested most of the way. Each team took control of one matchup, while the third position remained on serve until the last couple of games, when Trinity’s Chas Mayer and Charlie Curtis capitalized on two easy high volley misses to secure the break and serve out the 8-6 victory.
Emory responded with an impressive 8-5 triumph on court one. Alex Ruderman and Ian Wagner fell behind early against top-ranked Jordan Mayer and Aaron Skinner, but got back on serve at 3-3. The Eagle duo would get the key break for a 7-5 lead thanks to a double fault, and Wagner held serve to close it out. Tiger tandem Adam Krull and Clayton Neiss would come out on top on court two, fighting back from an early double break deficit against Scott Rubenstein and Eric Halpern before eventually prevailing 9-7.
“Doubles was big again, even though we were up at No. 1 and lost,” explained Trinity head coach Russell McMindes. “The twos did a great job of coming back, and the threes played pretty consistent overall. I knew we had momentum, but Emory does not go away. We had a 2-1 lead over them at this tournament two years ago and got swept in singles. They absolutely thrive in this kind of atmosphere.”
With the top three singles positions first up, both teams had their veterans on court. Emory’s Rafe Mosetick was the first to complete his match, winning in straight sets at the third spot. Although he struggled to close out both sets, he produced his best tennis late in the sets to cap off a perfect 3-0 record in singles play on the weekend.
The matches at first and second singles were pushed to the distance. At the second spot, Skinner got into a groove early with his solid baseline game and allowed Halpern to misfire from the back of the court. Halpern, though still inconsistent, started controlling more points by moving Skinner around in the second set, which eventually was settled in a tiebreak by a convincing score of seven points to two in favor of Halpern. The Emory senior broke to open the final set, appearing to have full momentum, but it was short lived. That would be the only game of the set he would win, and Skinner ran away with the set 6-1.
One court over, Krull used his big serve and authoritative forehand to win the first set against Ruderman. Krull also took a 2-0 lead in the second, but Ruderman continued to use his defensive skills to extend points, eventually producing errors from Krull. The second and third sets featured numerous breaks, as both players struggled to play with a lead. In the end, it was Krull who regained control of the majority of the rallies, fitting ending the match with a huge forehand return down the line.
“We came into the match really focusing on mental toughness and not allowing any outside distractions to get in our way,” said McMindes. “We had our strong senior leaders on early, and I thought they showed great resolve by keeping their emotions in check during all the momentum swings.”
Wagner kept the Eagles hopes alive, taking care of Neiss comfortable 6-2, 6-4 at the fourth spot. However, Emory still needed to win the remaining two matches in play to complete the comeback. Josh Goodman came through for his squad, putting together a complete match to defeat Chas Mayer 6-2, 6-2, but it would prove to be too little too late.
Coming off providing the clinching point to put Trinity in the finals, Charlie Curtis once again was clutch for the Tigers. After trading breaks with Emory’s Rubenstein early in the first set, Curtis was able to capture the set 6-4. He slipped behind a double break at 3-0 in the second, but quickly thwarted the potentially huge shift in momentum, stringing together the last six games of the match, including serving out the championship for Trinity.
“Being a first time finalist at this event was a milestone, but we wanted to learn from our mistakes in the past and not be satisfied with that accomplishment,” stated McMindes. “I honestly could not be more proud of the team we have put together this season.”
Also on Sunday, the Washington-St. Louis Bears and Johns Hopkins Blue Jays competed in the third place match. The Bears won two of three in doubles and got singles victories from Ross Putterman, Jeremy Bush, Johnny Wu, and Kevin Chu for the final margin of 6-3.
For complete coverage of the 2015 ITA Division III National Men's Team Indoor Championship, please visit the official ITA event page. Follow the ITA on Twitter, @ITAtennis, and like the ITA on Facebook for updates and news from the weekend's events. Use the hashtag #D3Indoors for all tweets in regards to the event, or search the term "D3Indoors" to find others who are tweeting from across the nation about this year's Championship, Feb. 20-22.
About the ITA Division III National Men's Team Indoor Championship
The ITA Division III National Men's Team Indoor Championship is held annually each February. The men's event began in 2001 and will be held for the 15th time in 2015. The event features eight participating teams and is held over three days, beginning on Friday with the quarterfinals, followed by semifinals on Saturday and the final on Sunday. Four different schools have hosted the event, while Emory (5), Gustavus Adolphus (4), UC Santa Cruz (3), Kenyon (1), and most recently Washington-St. Louis (1) are past champions.