Muliawan, Ljuboja win second ITA doubles title, men’s tennis falls to Div. I Duquesne 3–6

Junior Alex Nemerov intensely sets up for a serve during his match. (credit: Devin Beahm) Junior Alex Nemerov intensely sets up for a serve during his match. (credit: Devin Beahm)

The past two weeks have been busy for the men’s tennis team, who competed at the ITA Southeast Regional Championships in Virginia, where seniors James Muliawan and Niko Ljuboja captured the doubles title. A week later, the men’s team fell to Division I Duquesne University 3–6 to bring their season record to 2–1.

In Virginia, the Tartans did not have as much luck with the singles tournament, with only two players — seventh-seeded junior Alex Nemerov and ninth-seeded first-year Duke Miller — surviving until the quarterfinals.

Doubles play saw better luck, with three Tartan teams making the second day of the tournament. Muliawan and Ljuboja got off to a rough start, barely scraping by in the first match 9–7 before rallying to win their second match 8–1 against a Washington and Lee team. Sophomore Jeremy King and Miller teamed up and upset the first-seeded Johns Hopkins team 8–4 and then crushed a W&L team 8–1. Nemerov and senior Ravi Raghavan were the third duo to make the quarterfinals, beating out teams from W&L and Hopkins 8–5 and 8–6, respectively.

During the second day of the tournament, Muliawan and Ljuboja defeated another Hopkins team 8–6 to make the semifinals. King and Miller had an easy victory 8–3 to advance to the semifinals as well, only to be defeated by their teammates 8–6. In the other half of the draw, Nemerov and Raghavan dropped an 8–1 decision to the second seed from Salisbury University.

In the finals of the doubles tournament, Muliawan and Ljuboja battled for their second ITA doubles title. The pair had teamed up during their first-year year to win the title. After starting slow, the two found themselves down a set 6–1. The duo fought back and took the second set 6–3. The resulting tiebreak was a nail-biter as the lead ping-ponged between Carnegie and Salisbury. Finally, Muliawan and Ljuboja were able to take a three-point lead before closing out the match, 10–8. The two will travel to Mobile, Ala. this week to participate in the ITA National Championships.

“It feels pretty good, and brings back lots of memories,” Muliawan said of his previous wins. “It’s really good playing with Niko, and it’s been a good partnership.” Muliawan also won the ITA singles tournament last year, making him a three-time champion.

After a quick recovery from the weekend, the Tartans teamed up to face local Duquesne University, hoping to repeat last year’s win. Muliawan and Ljuboja lost by just a few points, 9–8(8) at first doubles. The lone doubles point came from the team of Nemerov and junior Bobby MacTaggart, 8–3. The score stood at 1–2 after doubles play.

However, singles play did not yield the expected results for the Tartans, who needed to take five out of the six matches. The two remaining points would come from MacTaggart, who upset his opponent at first singles 4–6, 7–5, 10–6, and Nemerov, who overpowered his opponent 6–4, 6–4 at second singles.

Senior Jon Spero offered his insight on the loss. “We had the opportunity to win all three doubles but were unable to do so.... I also had a set point in the first set so it was really a few points that separated us from a win,” he noted. “This match was really meant to be a warmup for Amherst and I think it served its purpose. Everyone knows they need to pick their play up a notch and hopefully we can do that.”

The Tartans faced number two Amherst University at home on Sunday, Oct. 11. Check online Monday for scores and results.