Washington U. Falls to No. 1 Middlebury, 5-4, in NCAA Semifinals
Oberlin, Ohio, May 26, 2010 – The No. 7 ranked Washington University in St. Louis men’s tennis team fell short of advancing to its second-national championship match with a 5-4 loss to No. 1 ranked Middlebury College on Wednesday afternoon in the semifinals of the NCAA Division III Championship in Oberlin, Ohio.
Middlebury (22-2) advances to the national championship for the fourth time in school history, and will take on NESCAC rival Amherst College, a 5-4 winner over Claremont Mudd-Scripps Colleges, in the championship match at 1:00 p.m. (ET) on Thursday, May 27. Washington U. and Claremont will play in the third-place match on Thursday at Noon (ET).
The Panthers took the 1-0 lead after Conrad Olson and Eliot Jia cruised past senior John Watts and freshman Kareem Farah at second doubles, 8-4. Olson and Jia jumped out to a commanding 3-0 and never looked back, as Watts and Farah dropped their overall record this season to 22-6.
The Bears answered back at third doubles, as senior Danny Levy and sophomore Cameron Chiang rallied for an 8-6 win over Chris Mason and Andrew Peters. Trailing 5-3 and down a break, Levy and Chiang won four-straight games to get the lead back at 7-5. Mason and Peters held serve to close the gap to 7-6, but Levy and Chiang held serve for the victory.
With the match tied at 1-1, the final doubles point came down to the No. 3 ranked team of juniors Isaac Stein and Max Woods and the Division III’s top-ranked team of Andrew Lee and Andrew Thomson. The match was tied at 7-7, when Stein and Woods broke serve to take an 8-7 lead. With Woods serving up 40-15 and two match points, Lee and Thomson won four-straight points to send the match to a tiebreaker, where Lee and Thomson posted a 7-2 victory.
Jia continued his stellar play with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Levy at fifth singles to push Middlebury’s lead to 3-1. It was Levy’s second defeat this season at No. 5 singles, dropping his record to 8-2. Lee pushed the lead to 4-1 with a 6-3, 6-0 victory over Stein at second singles, getting the Panthers within one win shy of a berth in the national championship.
After dropping his doubles match, Farah picked up the biggest win of his collegiate career with a 7-6, 6-4 victory over Peter Odell at No. 6 singles to keep the Bears’ hopes alive. He was making just his fourth start of the year in the singles lineup, and improved his overall singles record to 7-2. Farah trailed 4-2 in the second set, but broke Odell twice and won the final four games.
Washington University (20-5) won the first set at the remaining three singles matches (No. 1, No. 3, No. 4), but dropped the second set in each match setting up a decisive third set. Woods followed with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 win at fourth singles over Thomson, the No. 9 ranked singles player in Division III, to trim the Middlebury lead to 4-3.
In a battle of the top two ranked singles players in Division III, Watts upended Peters, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 at first singles to even the match at 4-4. Just minutes later, though, Olson posted a 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 come from behind victory over freshman Adam Putterman at third singles to clinch the match for Middlebury.
Bear Notebook: Washington U. is 1-2 all-time in the NCAA semifinal match … The 22 wins this season for Middlebury ties the school record set in 2006 and 2007 … The Bears dropped a 5-3 decision to Emory University in the third-place match a year ago.