Men’s tennis places third at UAA championship

The 16th-ranked Carnegie Mellon men’s tennis team competed in the University Athletic Association (UAA) tournament this past weekend, taking third place, an improvement over last year’s fourth-place finish. On Friday, the third-seeded Tartans smashed sixth-seeded Brandeis University 8–1. In Saturday’s semifinals, however, Carnegie Mellon was trounced by second-seeded Emory University 5–0. In Sunday’s consolation match, Carnegie Mellon rebounded with a 5–2 victory over the fourth-seed, University of Chicago.

On a cloudy Friday at Emory University in Atlanta, the Tartans took on the unranked Brandeis. Carnegie Mellon started quickly, with the pairings of senior Andrew Clearfield/sophomore James Muliawan and first-year Alex Nemerov/sophomore Jon Spero winning their doubles matches to send Carnegie Mellon up 2–1. The Tartans then swept the singles matches. The veteran Clearfield hung on to pull out a close match 6–7, 6–4, 10–6. Sophomore Ravi Raghavan stayed focused to beat his opponent 7–6 (4), 6–3. Muliawan, Nemerov, Spero, and junior Yiran Liu all won routinely. The win moved the Tartans’ season record to 17–6.

Whatever confidence Carnegie Mellon gained from defeating Brandeis on Friday, it quickly evaporated against the Emory University Eagles, ranked seventh in the nation. The Eagles’ doubles players put their team in sight of victory, taking the score to 3–0. The team of Clearfield/Muliawan put up the most resistance, losing 8–5. In singles, Clearfield and Spero could not postpone Emory’s victory for too long, losing their matches 6–4, 6–1 and 6–3, 6–3, respectively. The rest of the Tartans stayed on the bench as Emory had clinched the win, rendering the remaining four singles matches irrelevant. With the loss, the Tartans’ record moved to 17–7.

“We were hoping we could take down Emory, but they came out and played great,” said head coach Andrew Girard. “We didn’t lose the match — they won it.”

Carnegie Mellon can take some consolation though: Emory won their 20th UAA tournament (in 21 years of tournament history) with a 6–2 upset of top-seeded and second-ranked Washington (Mo.) University, ranked second.

Sunday’s third-place match against the 21st-ranked Chicago was a rematch from 2007, when the fourth-seeded Chicago upset the third-seeded Tartans in an epic battle. This year, however, the Tartans are reveling in their 5–2 victory over Chicago and savoring the sweetness of payback.

“It’s definitely nice to get revenge on Chicago,” Girard said. “The players were really fired up and there was a lot on the line. We probably had to win that match for the [NCAA regional tournament] bid.”
Against Chicago, Clearfield and Raghavan snuck out the late break in a 9–7 doubles victory, while Nemerov/Spero also won. In singles, Spero, Liu, and first-year Bobby MacTaggart all scored victories to clinch the match.

The Tartans end the regular season with a record of 18–7. The team should hear today if it received a bid to the NCAA regional tournament, to be held next Friday through Sunday.
Girard is confident that his team will do well if they receive a bid for the NCAA tournament.