Men’s tennis takes 6th at ITA Indoor National Championships, tops #25 Gustavus Adolphus

Sophomore Jeremy King  hits a backhand during the ITA Indoor Championships.  (credit: Courtesy of Andrew Girard) Sophomore Jeremy King hits a backhand during the ITA Indoor Championships. (credit: Courtesy of Andrew Girard)

For the first time in Carnegie Mellon’s history, the men’s tennis team was invited to participate at the ITA National Team Indoor Championship, held at Gustavus Adolphus College. After falling to number-one Santa Cruz in the first round, the Tartans rebounded to defeat number-25 Gustavus Adolphus 8–1, but were unable to repeat and fell to number-six Johns Hopkins 3–6 later that evening to finally take sixth. The ninth-ranked Tartans move to 6–3 for the season.

In the opening round, the Tartans faced top-ranked Santa Cruz, but fell 4–5 after many close matches. The Banana Slugs proved to be tough in the doubles round of play and took a 2–1 lead heading into singles. The duo of juniors Alex Nemerov and Bobby MacTaggart took the lone point at second doubles, winning 9–8 (6).

In singles play, the remaining three points came from MacTaggart, who won playing the second singles spot, 3–6, 6–2, 1–0 (4), followed by senior James Muliawan playing number three, 7–5, 4–6, 1–0 (3), and first-year Harsha Rao, 7–5, 7–5.

“This was disappointing, because we’ve been working very hard and we thought we might have been able to pull off an upset,” Nemerov said. “But Santa Cruz played well, and we just want to focus on winning the next two matches.”

“We lost 4–5 to the number-one team, so it’s not like we were overwhelmed,” MacTaggart added. “We definitely have a couple things to work on, but this only shows that we can play at the top level too.”

The Tartans found better luck against the host team Gustavus Adolphus and decisively won 8–1. After sweeping the doubles to take a 3–0 lead, including a brutal 8–0 win by first-year Duke Miller and sophomore Jeremy King at number three, the Tartans continued to play strong to take five of the six singles matches.

Notable wins came from Muliawan at number three, who won 6–0, 6–4, and Rao, who won in straight sets, 6–4, 6–4.

Despite the win in the consolation semifinals, the day wasn’t over just yet for the Tartans, who went head-to-head against Johns Hopkins for fifth place. After a close loss by King and Miller, 7–9, and a win by Nemerov and MacTaggart at second doubles, 8–2, the Tartans found themselves down 1–2. Senior Jonathan Spero brought in the first singles point at fifth singles, 6–1, 6–4, followed by Muliawan, who won 4–6, 6–4, 1–0. Carnegie Mellon fell short, though, and was unable to secure two more points for the win. The Tartans took sixth overall in the tournament.

“This was the first time we were ever invited to the tournament, so we did okay for a first-time run,” Muliawan noted. “Obviously we wanted to do better, but there’s nothing we can do now except work harder and prepare for our spring break trip and NCAAs.”

The Tartans will gear up again against Christopher Newport College on Tuesday, March 2 at home.