Bowdoin Men Oust Emory to Earn D-III Finals Berth Against Middlebury; Emory and Williams Renew Rivalry in Women's Final
©Colette Lewis 2016--
Top seed Emory had won two of three doubles points and was up a set on three courts, but that wasn't enough to faze the fourth-seeded Polar Bears, who earned their second consecutive 5-4 win to reach the NCAA finals for the first time in program history.
"Never underestimate the power of adrenaline," said Bowdoin's coach Conor Smith, whose team came back from losing all three doubles matches against Johns Hopkins in Monday's quarterfinal to win the match in a third-set tiebreaker.
If Bowdoin was feeling any of the effects of that match, there was no sign of it today, and when they got a quick win at line 6 to tie it, and went up breaks in the second set of the matches they trailed in, the adrenaline really began to flow. Another straight-set win at line 5 made it 3-2, but Emory got a crucial win from Adrian Bouchet at line, beating Bowdoin's Monday hero, Jerry Jiang, 6-2, 7-6(2). At 3-3, the attention turned to the front courts at Stowe Stadium, where courts 1 and 2 were in the third set, after the Eagles had taken the first set it both.
Luke Tercek closed out Rafe Mosetick of Emory 4-6, 6-3, 6-1, meaning Emory needed the last two matches to advance to the final. They got one, with Jonathan Jemison failing to serve out the third set at 5-3 but breaking Kyle Wolf in a long deuce game to claim a 6-0, 3-6, 6-4 victory, tying the match at 4.
On court 3, Emory's Arman Manji and Luke Trinka were, after over two hours of play, starting a tiebreaker for the second set. Manji, who lost the first set 6-4, was unable to serve out the set at 5-3, and nerves appeared again leading 4-2 in the tiebreaker, particularly when he double faulted at 4-4. Trinka had two serves to finish out the upset and he won them both, triggering the usual celebratory frenzy from his teammates six feet from him in the courtside bleachers.
"This is really exciting," said Smith, whose team dealt Emory its first Division III loss of the season. "I'm really happy for my guys. They've really earned it and worked for it. I've got a couple of amazing seniors, Chase[Savage] and Luke, and it's so fitting for Luke, as a senior, to have clinched it today, and Chase helping us win that doubles point. Our two seniors were clutch, clutch today."
The Polar Bears may have been in unfamiliar territory, playing in their first semifinal in program history against perennial contender Emory, who, in the previous ten years has been in five finals, winning two. But Smith wasn't underselling his team's chances.
"They're just a bunch of guys who are unfazed by big moments, big opportunities," said Smith, in his fifth year at Bowdoin. "They love and cherish these big moments and they've done an amazing job at not letting these moments get too big for them."
Bowdoin's opponent in the final will be a familiar one. No. 3 seed Middlebury set up an all-NESCAC conference final by defeating No. 7 seed Chicago 5-2, with the match ending on a subdued note with an injury to Chicago's Sven Kranz in the final game of his contest with Palmer Campbell at line 3.
The Panthers won doubles matches at 2 and 3, but Chicago won three first sets in singles, giving their fans reason to hope. Middlebury's Williams DeQuant and Hamid Derbani held on to their their leads to close out matches at lines 4 and 5, while Chicago's Peter Leung gave the Maroons a second point, making it 4-2.
As the attention switched to the three front courts, Middlebury's Noah Farrell forced a third set against Nicolas Chua, while Campbell took a 3-1 third set lead against Kranz, putting him in position as the likely clinching point. He lost the next three games however, giving Chicago's David Liu the opportunity to close out Ari Smolyar in straight sets at line 2, but Liu wasn't able provide that third point. Campbell held and broke Kranz to serve for the match, and at the end of the first point of that service game, Kranz stretched for a passing shot and tumbled to the court. The trainer was immediately called to court, his left knee was taped during treatment and he resumed playing, although he could not put any weight on his left leg. Miraculously, Kranz won the next three points, including one double fault from Campbell, but Campbell played aggressively in the final four points, winning them all, to close out the win and return the 2015 finalists to the NCAA championship.
Middlebury last won the team title in 2010, but that was before Bob Hansen arrived from UC-Santa Cruz. Hansen, who won seven titles while coaching at Santa Cruz, claimed two of those in Kalamazoo, in 1989 and 1995.
"It never gets old," Hansen said of yet another appearance in the final. "I think that's part of why I'm still fit to coach. It never ceases to be thrilling, fun and exciting and I love the whole process. My first championship was here, and it's such a great place. It's a treat to play at a place with such amazing in history for American tennis."
Middlebury defeated Bowdoin twice this year: 5-4 in April and 5-1 just over two weeks ago in the NESCAC tournament final.
"They're good, really, really good," said Hansen, who is in his fifth year at Middlebury. "We've had tough, tough matches with them. I was surprised, I think our whole conference was ridiculously strong, but we only got two teams in from our conference. UAA got five or six. I was surprised because we had some teams in our conference which were rough, them being one of them."
Emory had lost to Middlebury 5-4 in April, so coach Amy Bryant made sure her team focused despite the early 3-0 lead.
"It's confidence, but Middlebury's a great team and they have great singles players so no matter what the score is after doubles, we know we have to go out there and compete," said Bryant, in her 16th year coaching at Emory.
This is the fourth straight year Emory has reached the final, winning the title in 2014.
"It feels great," Bryant said. "I'm really excited for our seniors. We have three seniors with us here and they've been working for this; they've played in a championship match in their entire career, freshman, sophomore, junior year, so I know they're really excited to do it again senior year, and I know they're going to be prepared to give it their all, ready to fight."
Bryant's team will be facing a team that has won seven of the last eight titles, and the team that beat them 5-4 in the 2015 final, No. 2 seed Williams, after Williams defeated No. 6 seed Bowdoin 5-0.
The Ephs had lost to Bowdoin 6-3 back in April, with the Polar Bears sweeping the doubles points. Williams turned the tables Tuesday evening, getting a 3-0 cushion.
"I think that spurred us on to a lot of things that we worked on to improve our doubles throughout the course of the season," said Swain, in her ninth year at Williams. "They are great competitors, they really fight to the end, but we were able to take charge of the doubles. I'm really proud of the girls for all the work they've put in to improve so much."
If Bowdoin was discouraged by the 3-0 deficit they didn't show it in singles. Every match was close and it was more than an hour and a half before Williams could put another point on the board, with Hannah Atkinson defeating Samantha Stalder 7-6(5), 6-4 at line 5 to make it 4-0. The clinch came at line 2, via birthday girl Mia Gancayco, who took out Tiffany Cheng 6-4, 6-3, in a score that understates the length and competitiveness of the over two-hour match.
Williams and Emory played earlier this year in Atlanta, with Emory taking a 5-4 victory, but Swain preferred not to focus on the rematch or rivalry aspect of a final against Emory, even though the two teams have won 14 of the last 15 NCAA women's team titles.
"We really try to take our season one step at a time, all the time, be humble and not take opportunities for granted," said Swain. "So the fact that we are here, with such a deep field this year, I'm just really impressed with how these women have handled the pressure and the expectation, that they've been able to compete so well in the postseason."
"We really like to focus on ourselves at this stage of the game, so I try not to think about who is across the net. We try to focus on who we are as a group and what we do well as a team, and that's our focus tomorrow. We're happy to play whoever that is on the other side of the net. We're excited. It's going to be an amazing match, I know, however it unfolds."
The men's final is scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday at Stowe Stadium, with the women's match scheduled for 3 p.m. There is a chance of thunderstorms in the forecast, particularly in the afternoon.
Live streaming of the front three courts is available at NCAA.com. There will be commentary for the finals. Live scoring for all courts is available at Kalamazoo College's Tournament Central.
NCAA Division III Men’s Semifinals
May 24, 2016 Kalamazoo College
#4 Bowdoin 5, #1 Emory University 4
1. Scott Rubinstein/James Spaulding (EU) def. Luke Tercek/Luke Trinka (BOW-M) 8-5
2. Jonathan Jemison/Rafe Mosetick (EU) def. Jerry Jiang/Grant Urken (BOW-M) 8-3
3. Gil Roddy/Chase Savage (BOW-M) def. Andrew Harrington/David Omsky (EU) 9-7
Order of finish: 2, 1, 3
1. Luke Tercek (BOW-M) def. Rafe Mosetick (EU) 4-6, 6-3, 6-1
2. Jonathan Jemison (EU) def. Kyle Wolfe (BOW-M) 6-0, 3-6, 6-4
3. Luke Trinka (BOW-M) def. Aman Manji (EU) 6-4, 7-6(4)
4. Adrien Bouchet (EU) def. Jerry Jiang (BOW-M) 6-2, 7-6(2)
5. Gil Roddy (BOW-M) def. Josh Goodman (EU) 6-4, 6-2
6. Grant Urken (BOW-M) def. Andrew Harrington (EU) 6-3, 6-3
Order of finish: 6, 5, 4, 1, 2, 3
Bowdoin 19-3; National ranking #4
Emory University 23-4; National ranking #1
#3 Middlebury 5, #8 University of Chicago 2
1. Nicolas Chua/David Liu(UCM) def. Palmer Campbell/Hamid Derbani (MIDDMT) 8-4
2. Noah Farrell/Ari Smolyar (MIDDMT) def. Peter Leung/Charlie Pei (UCM) 8-6
3. William de Quant/Kyle Schlanger (MIDDMT) def. Max Hawkins/Luke Tsai (UCM) 8-3
Order of finish: 1,3,2
1. Nicolas Chua (UCM) vs. Noah Farrell (MIDDMT) 6-3, 2-6, 3-2
2. David Liu (UCM) vs. Ari Smolyar (MIDDMT) 7-5, 5-5
3. Palmer Campbell (MIDDMT) def. Kranz, Sven (UCM) 6-3, 1-6, 6-4
4. William de Quant (MIDDMT) def. Charlie Pei (UCM) 6-3, 6-4
5. Hamid Derbani (MIDDMT) def. Luke Tsai (UCM) 6-2, 6-4
6. Peter Leung (UCM) def. Kyle Schlanger (MIDDMT) 6-4, 6-2
Order of finish: 4,6,5,3
University of Chicago 18-6; National ranking #8
Middlebury 20-2; National ranking #3
NCAA Division III Tennis Women's Semifinals
May 24, 2016 Kalamazoo College
#1 Emory University 5, #5 Middlebury 1
1. Anna Fuhr/Madison Gordon (EUW) def. Molly Paradies/Ria Gerger (MIDDWT) 8-4
2. Bridget Harding/Katarina Su (EUW) def. Kaysee Orozco/Sadie Shackelford (MIDDWT) 8-3
3. Paula Castro/Michelle Satterfield (EUW) def. Alexandra Fields/Christina Puccinelli (MIDDWT) 8-4
Order of finish: 3, 2, 1
1. Ria Gerger (MIDDWT) def. Bridget Harding (EUW) 6-3, 6-2
2. Michelle Satterfield (EUW) def. Alexandra Fields (MIDDWT) 6-1, 6-1
3. Beatrice Rosen (EUW) vs. Christina Puccinelli (MIDDWT) 6-4, 1-0, unfinished
4. Paula Castro (EUW) vs. Molly Paradies (MIDDWT) 6-4, 4-2, unfinished
5. Madison Gordon (EUW) def. Kaysee Orozco (MIDDWT) 6-0, 6-0
6. Katarina Su (EUW) vs. Sadie Shackelford (MIDDWT) 6-1, 3-5, unfinished
Order of finish: 5, 1, 2
Middlebury 16-5; National ranking #5
Emory University 27-5; National ranking #1
#2 Williams 5, #6 Bowdoin 0
1. Juli Raventos/Linda Shin (WILLIAMS) def. Tiffany Cheng/Joulia Likhanskaia (BOW-W) 8-2
2. Hannah Atkinson/Julia Cancio (WILLIAMS) def. Pilar Giffenig/Kyra Silitch (BOW-W) 8-4
3. Maya Hart/G. McDonnell Nieto (WILLIAMS) def. Samantha Stalder/Tess Trinka (BOW-W) 8-5
Order of finish: 1, 3, 2
1. Juli Raventos (WILLIAMS) vs. Joulia Likhanskaia (BOW-W) 7-6(6), 5-2, unfinished
2. Mia Gancayco (WILLIAMS) def. Tiffany Cheng (BOW-W) 6-4, 6-3
3. Linda Shin (WILLIAMS) vs. Kyra Silitch (BOW-W) 7-6(6), 1-0, unfinished
4. Julia Cancio (WILLIAMS) vs. Tess Trinka (BOW-W) 6-3, 4-6, 3-2, unfinished
5. Hannah Atkinson (WILLIAMS) def. Samantha Stalder (BOW-W) 7-6(5), 6-4
6. Leah Bush (WILLIAMS) vs. Sarah Shadowens (BOW-W) 6-2, 5-7, 3-1, unfinished
Order of finish: 5, 2
Bowdoin 15-7; National ranking #6
Williams 22-3; National ranking #2