CMU’s Alla wins ITA tournament
To become the Division III Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) National Singles Champion, sophomore Abhishek Alla had to defeat six opponents — two of them from his own team — in the ITA Southeast regional tournament, and three other regional champions.
His immediate reaction upon becoming singles-champion: “Just a smile I guess.”
The even-keeled Alla cruised to victory, not dropping a set in the national tournament. His dominance is nothing new; in the regional tournament, he dropped only one set, which came against teammate junior William Duncan in the quarterfinals.
Alla entered the tournament with tempered expectations — “Let’s just take it match by match,” he said — and took the first match to find his groove.
Against No. 4 seed Paxton Deuel of Trinity University last Thursday, Alla found himself trailing the first set 5–4. After holding serve to tie the set at 5–5, Alla broke Deuel’s serve and held his serve again to win the set.
Deuel fought back, winning the first three games of the second set. But Alla regrouped and won the next six games to take the match.
“I wouldn’t say [I was] nervous, but the other guy was consistent. He was just getting the balls back, so I was like — I should do the same.... It was a long first match,” he said.
Alla crushed his next two opponents. He beat Sam Geier from Kenyon College 6–2, 6–0 in the semifinals.
In the final match on Saturday, he defeated Skylar Butts of the Claremont Colleges 6–4, 6–1 to take home the championship title.
Alla said his recent play is the best since coming to Carnegie Mellon but not his best overall.
“I’ve probably played better before I came to CMU.”
That Alla has even more room to develop should be terrifying to opponents and good news to the men’s tennis team as they try to make the NCAA Division III tournament next May.
Despite proving his skills on the court, Alla admits his serve could always use more work: “I’m trying. If it gets better, it gets better, or else it’s just going to stay the same,” he said. His serve may not be the most powerful, but now, it is the serve of a champion.