Tennis

Senior tennis team captain Andrew Harrington’s journey to a successful collegiate tennis career has involved many twists and turns. He transferred from the University of Miami to Emory after one year. Harrington made  an explosive impact during first year with the Eagles, but he suffered an ankle injury that prevented him from competing most of his junior season. This year, Harrington has returned as an integral part of the team.

Harrington faced a drastically different set of circumstances at Miami as a freshman playing tennis compared to at Emory. One major difference between the schools is the level of competition, he said. Transitioning from the NCAA Division I to the Division III level changed his perspective on the court.

“At Emory, we’re big dogs where we’re top five in the country,” Harrington said. “We were on the lower end at Miami but played professional-caliber players at other schools.”

Harrington made an instant impact as a sophomore on the team, posting an overall singles record of 21-9 on the season and winning 16 out of 23 matches during the spring. He was able to seize the opportunity and prove himself as an elite-level player. Harrington was a major contributor to a nearly undefeated season for the team.  

The team ultimately fell short of one of their major goals for the season, despite Harrington’s standout performance. They lost in the 2016 National Semifinals to Bowdoin College (Maine) 5-4.

During his junior year, Harrington dealt with an ankle injury during which he could not build on his sophomore season in the way he had hoped. However, his temporary absence from the court gave him a new approach to his play when he returned as a senior.

“I used the motivation of not winning a championship as a sophomore [to try to win a championship this year],” Harrington said.

Harrington’s primary goal during his comeback has been contributing to the court as much as possible in his final year as an Eagle, and he has not only made his biggest impact of his career as a team player, but also as team captain, a role that he doesn’t take lightly.

“I always volunteer and say, ‘If you guys need to work on anything, let me know,’ ” Harrington said. “Winning a championship is a team effort, and you want to set a good example. If you work hard, it well get them to want to work hard, too.”

Harrington’s journey with the team has helped him to make big strides in his on-court ability and mentality toward the game. As a sophomore, he would easily get frustrated and lose focus when he made mistakes on the court. Since then, he has become much better at responding to mistakes and maintaining his focus, especially this year given his new sense of urgency.

“I know my tennis days are numbered,” Harrington said. “Just the fact that it’s all coming to an end has pushed me to reach a level that I wasn’t at previously. It has made competing a lot more enjoyable and has made me cherish the moment.”

When playing tennis, Harrington said he has realized that what matters most is leaving his best game on the court and enjoying the game.

“You can’t control your outcomes,” Harrington said. “All you can control is whether you gave 100 percent and fought [to] the best of your ability and [showed] a good attitude. With that, results tend to come.”

Harrington is still motivated to win by the redemption from falling short in his sophomore year. He wants to finish his career on a high note and go undefeated for the season en route to a second straight national championship.

Harrington strives to make a lasting impact on the team before he graduates this spring.

“I’m going to die on the court before I get off the court for every match,” Harrington said. “I don’t want to walk away with any regrets.”

Harrington’s chances for success look promising, as the Eagles are in a great position this season to claim back-to-back Division III National Championships for the first time in school history.

Although this is his first year on the Emory men’s tennis team, freshman Hayden Cassone has played an invaluable role in helping the Eagles register a blistering 9-0 win against Rhodes College (Tenn.) with an 8-3 verdict in doubles on March 24. Earlier this season, he contributed to the team’s third straight ITA National Indoor Championship title during a series of matches on Feb. 23-25, with a score of 6-3, 6-2 in singles play and 8-5 in doubles at the finals. Cassone is a pre-business College student from South Salem, N.Y. The team next faces Johns Hopkins University (Md.) at home on March 31.

Thomas Yohannes, The Emory Wheel: What did you think about Emory’s tennis team during high school, and what do you think about it now?

Hayden Cassone: Before I came here, I knew Emory had an [NCAA Division I]-type program with a very experienced coach who cares a lot about his players. Also, they have a rich tradition of winning. When I came on my recruiting trip, I immediately loved all the guys on the team. After being here, it just confirmed my assumptions about how great [the program] is.

EW: So far this season, you have an overall record of 12-2 in singles play, 4-0 in the Spring. In your opinion, did you exceed your own expectations?

HC: My expectations are not personal, but for the team. I wanted to win a national title with my boys, and we achieved that together.

EW: Who is a player you look up to?

HC: I love watching Roger Federer play. He is the best player to ever live, and I give him a lot of respect.

EW: What’s the craziest thing to happen during a tournament?

HC: I clinched the semifinals against [the University of] Chicago at [the ITA Indoor National Championships]. They were a tough team, and I was extremely excited to win for my friends and teammates.

EW: What type of music do you listen to before a game or practice?

HC: EDM and rap.

EW: What’s the most memorable moment with the team?

HC: Winning [the ITA Indoor National Championships] was definitely a fun experience with the team. It was the first time I was with them in a serious team environment, and to win that was amazing.

EW: Any aspirations in tennis for the future?

HC: Since I just turned 18, I still have the national circuit of junior tournaments over the summer. I’m really looking forward to that as it’s my last time around. As for the far future, I haven’t looked that far ahead yet.

The No. 2 Emory University women’s tennis team defeated No. 6 Pomona-Pitzer College (Calif.) to win their second consecutive and fourth overall indoor title in the final round of the ITA Indoor Championships in Chattanooga, Tenn., March 4.

The team cruised through the opening round against No. 17 Sewanee: The University of the South (Tenn.), winning all nine contests March 2.

The Eagles’ top doubles team of senior Bridget Harding and freshman Ysabel Gonzalez-Rico established Emory’s dominance with an 8-3 victory. Junior Daniela Lopez and freshman Katie Chang earned the second doubles win, followed by another victory from senior Anna Fuhr and freshman Stephanie Taylor to complete the doubles sweep.

Harding and Gonzalez-Rico have been on a tear this season, going undefeated in doubles competition for the season. According to Gonzalez-Rico, practice and extra matches have been a major part of their win streak.

In the singles matches, the six victories came in straight sets. Harding won 6-2, 7-6 followed by Gonzalez-Rico’s 6-0, 6-2 win. Lopez recorded a 6-3, 6-1 win in the third match. Taylor posted a 6-1, 6-1 victory, followed by a 6-0, 6-2 Fuhr win. Freshman Defne Olcay closed out the successful day with a 6-1, 6-0 win.

Coach Amy Bryant saw the win as a great way to evaluate the team’s current standing.

[The tournament] is a great indicator of the talent that we have [and] a great way for understanding what we need to work on,” Bryant said.

The next day, the Eagles won six of nine matchups against Carnegie Mellon University (Pa.) in the semifinals.

Emory won two of three matches in the doubles competition. Harding and Gonzalez continued their fine form in an 8-3 victory, while Lopez and Chang earned an 8-5 win. Meanwhile, Fuhr and Taylor stumbled in an 8-5 loss.

Harding, Gonzalez-Rico, Lopez and sophomore Emma Perelman also delivered victories for the Eagles in the singles competition. Harding recorded a 6-3, 6-4 victory, Gonzalez-Rico won 6-2, 6-4 and Lopez capped the singles sweep 7-5, 6-0. Perelman, in champion fashion, thrashed her opponent 6-0, 6-0 to finish off the matchup. Taylor and Olcay dropped matches in the other two singles contests with scores of 7-6 (5), 6-4 and 6-2, 7-5.

After a couple of losses against Carnegie Mellon, Bryant said her team was not rattled and stayed the course.

“I think the key for us was to stay steady,” Bryant said. “It was about sticking to the game plan but adjust to whatever we need to. We’re playing good players.”

In the finals against Pomona College, the Eagles closed out their opponents by securing wins in all their contests.

The Eagles triumphed in all three doubles matches. Lopez and Chang dominated their match 8-0 while Harding and Gonzalez-Rico closed out their match with an 8-5 victory. Fuhr and Taylor recovered from their loss the day before with an 8-7 triumph.

Emory needed two victories to win the championship round in the singles competition. Harding and Gonzalez-Rico sealed the showdown after their 6-3, 6-2 and 6-4, 6-3 victories, respectively. The Eagles solidified their top spot with leads in two of the four remaining contests — Fuhr and Perelman both won their matches 6-4, 5-4.

Gonzalez-Rico, who celebrated her first ever win with the team, said that the win was a morale boost for the team.

“[It was our] first tournament win [and a] great start for the team,” Gonzalez-Rico said. “But it’s only the beginning. We still have a lot of work for the rest of semester.”

The next set of matches take place after spring break. Bryant said the team will have a much-needed rest.

“We’ve been going hard four weeks straight now. Breaks are important,” said Bryant. “Everyone is [going] to have their own things [but] we’ll be ready.”

The Eagles, now 4-3 on the season, are set to return to action March 24 against Point Loma Nazarene University (Calif.).

Emory men’s tennis poses for a photo with their ITA Indoor Championship trophy. The Eagles topped Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (Calif.) 5-4 in the tournament finale. Courtesy of Emory Athletics

With three wins over the course of three days, the Emory men’s tennis team claimed the throne at the ITA National Indoor Championships in Minnesota Feb. 23-25. The victories also propelled Head Coach John Browning through the 500-win threshold for his career, putting an accent mark on the team’s weekend achievement.

The Eagles claimed each victory in nail-biting fashion. They defeated Gustavus Adolphus College (Minn.) in the quarterfinals on Gustavus’ home courts in Mankato, Minn., before they traveled to St. Peter, Minn., for wins against the University of Chicago (Ill.) in the semifinals and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (Calif.) in the championships.

In their quarterfinal matchup against Gustavus, the Eagles overcame a boisterous Gustavus crowd with key performances by freshman Hayden Cassone and seniors Scott Rubinstein and captain Andrew Harrington.

“Gustavus had a ton of fans and you could barely hear anything in front of you,” Browning said. “Our [No.] four through six [singles] guys [Cassone, Rubenstein and Harrington] … were able to stay calm in the midst of the turmoil, which was pretty impressive.”

Gustavus pushed Emory to its limit. Five of the six singles matches went to three sets, and Emory won by only one point, 5-4, after the conclusion of the nine total singles and doubles matches played between the two teams.

“We tried to prepare the players mentally and put pressure on them [in practice] so they’re prepared for the pressure,” Browning said. “It’s easier said than done because it’s different when you’re actually there. Certain players are just prepared and rise to that occasion.”

In the semifinals, the Eagles pulled off another 5-4 victory against their highly-ranked foe, No. 9 UChicago.

“I got a lot older after this weekend,” Browning said. “It came down to the very end. We got off to a good start in doubles, which is important. Chicago is really good and talented.”

Against UChicago, Emory received a similar boost in momentum thanks to critical performances from the bottom half of the singles lineup for the team.

“We were able to get really good production from Harrington at [No.] 5 [singles],” Browning said. “[Junior] Jonathan Jemison played well also. Our freshman [Cassone] played really well to clinch at 7-5.”

The Eagles were prepared mentally for what turned out to be a close matchup against UChicago. Competing against a UAA rival, Emory knew moving on wasn’t going to come easy.

“Chicago is a great team,” Harrington said. “One thing that helped me was respecting my opponent. I knew had to be prepared for a tough match, which helped me stay strong mentally.”

In the championship contest, Emory faced the unfamiliar circumstance of playing an especially early match and dropping individual matches early on in the competition. The Eagles nonetheless pulled out a third 5-4 victory and clinched the championship.

“It was an interesting match because we had to play at eight in the morning,” Browning said. “We did not play well in doubles and got off to a slow start 2-1. We started to feel the momentum slip when we went down 4-1.”

Things started to swing in the Eagles’ favor due to a critical shift for [junior] Adrien Bouchet in his match en route to victory, as well as the efforts from the back end of the singles lineup, which stringed together a series of strong performances throughout the weekend.

“When Adrien Bouchet started to gain momentum, which helped us moving forward, our 4-6 played well again,” Browning said.

The Eagles clinched the championship due to the heroic efforts of Harrington, who in the decisive third set of the match won a tiebreaker 7-3. It highlighted what turned out to be a standout weekend for the captain.

“Harrington had the whole tournament on his back in the third set breaker and I’m proud of how he handled that situation,” Browning said.

Going into the tiebreaker, Harrington put pressure aside and focused on winning each point.

“Something I’ve learned [is that] you can only control your ability to compete and your mindset,” Harrington said. “ I decided to just put everything I had into the match and see what happens. I just tried to focus on every point individually and luckily it all came together in the end.”

Though the championship victory represents a major milestone in Browning’s career, Browning was more focused on the team’s goals moving forward.

“I never really care about the record,” Browning said. “It’s more about us and what we achieve at the end of the year.”

The Eagles begin their outdoor season at home when they will face North Carolina Wesleyan College March 3 at 11 a.m.

Tennis Falls to Local Rivals

The No. 2 Emory women’s tennis team lost their first two matches of the season this past weekend. The Eagles suffered a 6-3 loss at home to Georgia State University Feb. 10 and a 6-1 loss to Coastal Carolina University (S.C.) Feb. 11.

Senior Bridget Harding and freshman Ysabel Gonzalez-Rico won their doubles match 8-3 against Coastal Carolina, moving Harding to tie for fifth place all-time with 93 career victories. But Coastal Carolina won second and third doubles to claim the point. Gonzalez-Rico was the only Eagle to snag a singles win, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5).

Against Georgia State, Harding and Gonzalez-Rico won first doubles, while senior Anna Fuhr and freshman Stephanie Taylor claimed second doubles, both matches by a score of 8-5. Sophomore Emma Perelman won sixth singles for Emory in straight sets, 6-3, 6-1.

The team is set to play at home again Feb. 18 against Columbus State University (Ga.) at 1 p.m.

Georgia Gwinnett College swept the Emory men’s tennis team at home, 9-0, Feb. 11 in the Eagles’ first match of the season. Senior Scott Rubinstein and junior James Spaulding played to a close 8-6 loss in first doubles, matching the result of junior Jonathan Jemison and senior Max Renke in third doubles. The Eagles will face at home Feb. 17 Bluefield State College (W.Va.) at 10 a.m. and Xavier University of Louisiana at 3 p.m. — Alisha Compton

Softball Redeems in Rematch

The Emory softball team began their season by splitting a double-header against the Birmingham-Southern College (Ala.) Panthers Feb. 9. The Eagles came up short in the first game, losing 5-2, but came back to shut out the Panthers while putting up five runs of their own.

Both teams were tied at one run a piece heading into the top of the fifth of game one. It was then that the Panthers hit their stride and added four runs, enough to win the game 5-2.

In game two, junior pitcher Toko Miller stymied the Panthers, throwing a complete game shutout. Miller allowed only three hits, a walk and struck out five batters in seven innings of work. Sophomore catcher Greta Wilker put an exclamation point on the 5-0 victory with a solo homerun in the bottom of the third.

Emory will host Berry College (Ga.) in a double-header Feb. 17. — Stephen Mattes

Avant, Men’s Basketball Beat Buzzer

The Emory men’s basketball team tallied two crucial University Athletic Association (UAA) road wins this weekend, topping Carnegie Mellon University (Pa.) 82-80 Feb. 9 and Case Western Reserve University (Ohio) 75-72 Feb. 11. The wins improve Emory’s season record to 18-4 with a 9-2 UAA record. With three conference games remaining, the Eagles sit solidly at No. 2 in the UAA standings, just behind No. 1 Washington University in St. Louis (Mo.) (20-2, 11-0).

Emory held the last-place Carnegie Mellon Tartans at arms length for most of the contest, but the Tartans crept closer as the game progressed, tying the score at 80 after three clutch free throws from senior guard Ryan Maha with 13 seconds remaining. On the game’s final possession, senior center Christopher Avant put in the winning bucket with one second left on the clock, giving Emory the 82-80 victory. Senior forward Adam Gigax led the scoring with 27 points and junior guard Gebereal Baitey added 16 points, seven rebounds and three assists.

Sunday’s contest at Case Western was a nail-biter, fraught with lead changes. Two free throws from Emory freshman guard Romin Williams with 15 seconds remaining gave Emory a three-point advantage that held till the final buzzer. Williams finished with 20 points while senior guard Whitt Rapp nearly dropped a double-double, adding 10 points along with nine assists.

The team will face New York University Feb. 16 at home at 3 p.m.

Kevin Kilgour

Rafael Nadal coasted to a three-set victory (6-3, 6-3, 6-4) over Kevin Anderson to win the U.S. Open title Sept. 10. It was Nadal’s second major win of the year after his French Open victory in June and the Spaniard’s 16th major win overall.

Nadal has turned around his career magnificently this year. Entering 2017 as the No. 9 overall player in the world and without a major victory in two years, it looked as though the “King of Clay” was past his prime. A series of knee, back and wrist injuries, combined with a sheer drop in performance form, looked to be the end of the explosive Nadal that fans had come to adore.

However, Nadal has recovered this year in remarkable fashion. During the U.S. Open, he lost a total of three sets. Not only did Nadal dominate his way to the championship, he made it look easy. Nadal did not face a single break point during the entirety of the championship match.

No. 32 Kevin Anderson, who was the lowest-ranked U.S. Open finalist since 1973, simply couldn’t match Nadal’s high level of play. The South African had never been past the quarterfinals prior to this year’s run, making this a remarkable success for Anderson despite his defeat in the final match.

Nadal ripped forehands and backhands with his trademark ferocity, while demonstrating tremendous poise when coming to the net. Nadal was perfect at the net, winning all 16 of his attempts. By comparison, Anderson won less than 50 percent (16 for 34) of his points at the net.  

Anderson’s best skill was his serve, traveling upwards of 130 mph. However, Nadal’s decision to sit far behind the service line to give himself more time to react effectively neutralized that part of Anderson’s game. Prior to Anderson’s match against Nadal, Anderson had only lost five service games in the tournament. Nadal broke Anderson’s serve four times in the tournament final.

The match’s turning point came in the middle of the second set. Nadal broke Anderson to make the score 4-2, effectively securing a two-set lead for Nadal. From there, Anderson’s confidence and demeanor simply wasn’t the same. Anderson went on to have 21 unforced errors while Nadal only had four.

“[It’s been a] very special two weeks for me,” Nadal said, according to an ESPN recap of the event. “It’s unbelievable what happened this year after [the past] couple years with some problems and injuries.”

Anderson complimented Nadal’s return to form.

“I mean, I’ve always said he’s one of the, obviously, greatest players of our sport, obviously feeling very confident,” Anderson said. “[Nadal] seems to have turned around a lot of those injuries he’s experienced the last couple of years.”

With the conclusion of this match, Nadal (9465 points) strengthens his point lead over Roger Federer (7505 points) for the overall No. 1 position in the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) rankings, an impressive rise from No. 9 at the beginning of 2017.

Anderson can still hold his head high after making it into the final, the first South African to make it to the U.S. Open final since Cliff Drysdale in 1965.  

Nadal will look to carry this form into the next year and to avoid injuries. Now at 16 major titles, he will continue to chase Roger Federer’s record 19 grand slam titles.

The Emory women’s tennis team celebrates their second place finish at the NCAA Division III championships. Photo courtesy of Emory Athletics.

For the third consecutive year, Emory University and Williams College (Mass.) met at the NCAA Division III Women’s Tennis National Championship tournament final, playing neck and neck and finishing with a 5-4 result.

Last year, Emory came out on top. This year, Williams reclaimed the throne May 24, securing the program’s 10th national championship. Despite dropping only three of the team’s 24 matches in the tournament’s first four rounds, Emory surrendered five to Williams Wednesday at The McCallie School (Tenn.) and settled for the runner-up trophy.

Following the team competition, the individual singles and doubles tournaments ran May 25-27. In singles, senior Michelle Satterfield advanced to the quarterfinals while junior Bridget Harding reached the semifinals. Harding and senior Katarina Su paired to make a run in the doubles competition but fell flat in the tournament semifinals.

With Emory ranked No. 3 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) and Williams No. 4, it seemed safe to anticipate a tight contest in the team tournament final. Add the fact that Emory and Williams have won 16 of the past 17 national championships, and those two heavyweight programs were set on a dangerous collision course.

“There is a lot of mutual respect between the two programs,” Emory Head Coach Amy Bryant said. “When you go to the finals, you want to play against the best and you want it to be a battle.”

Williams took the edge in doubles play, garnering an early 2-0 lead through second and third doubles. Harding and Su responded in first doubles with a narrow 9-7 victory over Williams junior Juli Raventos and senior Linda Shin, trimming Williams’ lead to one.

“[Su and I] were down four match points, but we ended up saving those and breaking twice to get us that 1-2 [score] and not go down three points, which was important,” Harding said.

In singles play, senior Paula Castro evened the contest at two all with a win in sixth singles. Senior Melissa Goodman fell just short in fifth singles, but sophomore Daniela Lopez and Su responded in third and fourth singles, respectively, to give Emory its first lead of the day, 4-3.

“I knew it was going to be a tight match, but I was able to stick to my game plan,” Lopez said. “I knew what I needed to do, and I was focused on playing my best and the result just came along with that.”

With first and second singles remaining, the Eagles needed just one point to secure the title. Satterfield kept the score close in second singles, but couldn’t take a set from Williams sophomore Leah Bush in a 7-6, 6-2 defeat.

Tied at four apiece, the outcome of the first singles match between ITA No. 1 Harding and No. 2 Raventos would decide the championship.

Harding dominated the first set 6-1, but momentum swung to Raventos in the second and third sets. Winning 6-3, 6-2 to close the match, Raventos came back from a set down to claim first singles and a team national title for Williams College.

“She is a great player and it’s always going to be tough walking onto the court against her, especially in a national championship match like that,” Harding said. “I feel like I played well, but being that the team ended up losing the championship, that’s kind of tough.”

The Eagles’ tone following the final was subdued. Disappointment at what could have been hit the team hard, but there was no sense of frustration or regret.

“We gave it our all,” Bryant said. “The focus of the girls was just unbelievable. I thought we got as much as we could out of everybody.”

The road to the team tournament final was winding, but there was little time to relax before the individual competitions. Beginning May 25, Satterfield and Harding competed in singles while Harding and Su paired up in the doubles competition.

Harding (left) and Su (right) competed in the doubles competition. Photo courtesy of Emory Athletics.

With wins in the first two rounds, Harding hit a wall in the tournament semifinals in the form of Wesleyan University (Conn.) junior Eudice Chong, falling in straight sets 6-2, 6-0. Chong went on to win the tournament, making it three consecutive singles title for the Wesleyan junior. Satterfield met a similar fate in the tournament’s quarterfinals, succumbing to Washington University in St. Louis (Mo.) senior Rebecca Ho.

“I knew that match was going to be tough, but leading up to it, I was playing some of the best tennis I had played all year, so it was nice to finish on that note,” Harding said.

In the doubles competition, Harding and Su advanced to the semifinals. Matching up against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps freshman Nicole Tan and junior Lindsay Brown, the Emory duo lost in straight sets, 6-4, 7-5.

After the tournament, Lopez reflected on the Eagles’ accomplishments this season. She explained that this team always competes with tremendous confidence — to leave somewhat empty handed is a tough pill to swallow, but taking a broader perspective on the year helps ease that disappointment.

“Throughout the whole entire tournament you were able to see our improvement from the beginning [of the year],” Lopez said. “We played as a team … everyone was pushing each other to do their best.

With the season officially at its end, the Eagles graduate five seniors: Katarina Su, Michelle Satterfield, Michelle DeMeo, Paula Castro and Melissa Goodman. The Eagles finished their year as national runner-ups with a 17-7 season record.

The Emory University men’s tennis team celebrates following a 5-2 victory against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (Calif.) in the NCAA DIII National Championship final. Photo courtesy of Emory Athletics.

With a national title on the line, Emory’s men’s tennis team delivered a convincing 5-2 victory over Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (Calif.) May 24 at The McCallie School (Tenn.). This marks the program’s fourth national championship, its first since 2012.

The road to a championship is not an easy one. It requires five consecutive wins, the final three over three consecutive days. With victories against The University of the South (Tenn.) in the quarterfinals and Williams College (Mass.) in the tournament semifinals, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps was the final obstacle between the Eagles and championship glory.

“From the mental perspective, this is a three-day mental grind,” Head Coach John Browning said. “You are going to have emotional ups and downs, so you can’t allow yourself to start worrying about outcomes.”

Browning explained that the team mantra has been to take the journey one point at a time. It’s a mantra that’s worked: The Eagles haven’t lost a match since late March, riding a 12-match win streak into the tournament finale.

“That’s what made us so successful at the end of the year, just focusing on one match at a time and one point at a time,” Emory junior Scott Rubinstein said.

The Eagles showed no signs of slowing down May 24, jumping ahead of the competition early with a dominant performance in doubles play. After wins in second and third doubles, Rubinstein and sophomore James Spaulding gave Emory a 3-0 lead with their victory in first doubles.

Trailing 5-6, the pair turned on the afterburners to take three consecutive games, two of which broke serve, and claimed the 8-6 win.

“It was a ‘now it’s our time’ kind of moment,” Rubinstein said. “We were focused on getting that quick start and it was great to have all three doubles teams lock in and get their points.”

Claremont-Mudd-Scripps fought through the 3-0 deficit. Freshman Nikolai Parodi topped Emory senior Aman Manji in first singles, and senior Alex Brenner defeated Rubinstein in sixth singles.

Emory sophomore Jonathan Jemison, who won all of his matches in tournament play prior to Wednesday’s title contest, delivered once again in second singles over Claremont-Mudd-Scripps senior Glenn Hull 7-6 (4), 6-2. Jemison’s win gave Emory a 4-2 advantage and left the Eagles just one point away from a national championship, with three matches remaining.

That final point did not come easily. Third, fourth and fifth singles all went into a third set, with neither side able to break away. Emory sophomore Adrien Bouchet finished first, holding off Claremont-Mudd-Scripps senior Daniel Morkovine 5-7, 6-2, 7-5 to clinch the national championship for the Eagles.

Bouchet forced a third set after dropping the first, but faced an uphill battle in the final set, trailing 4-5. Bouchet denied Morkovine on two match-point opportunities in that pivotal tenth game, recovering to tie the set at five all. From there, Bouchet dominated the court, claiming the next two games for a 7-5 set win.

“For [Bouchet] to be able to lock in and focus, I’ve never seen anything like it,” Browning said.

With five points already in hand, fourth and fifth singles were left unfinished, making the final score 5-2.

This championship is the first title for every Emory player involved.

“[This year] has been a team effort all the way up and down the lineup,” Browning said. “[The championship is] a validation for the entire team in terms of all the hard work and the effort that we have put in.”

But even with the team title in hand, the journey is not yet for over for men’s tennis. The singles and doubles individual tournaments began immediately following the team competition and will finish May 27, with Jemison and Manji in the singles competition and Rubinstein and Spaulding paired in doubles.

Sophomore James Spaulding prepares for a forehand strike in the Eagles' match April 18 against Washington & Lee University (Va.)
Sophomore James Spaulding prepares for a forehand strike in the Eagles’ match April 18 against Washington & Lee University (Va.) Sarah Taha/Staff

With only one match remaining before the UAA Championships in Orlando, Fla., April has seen the Emory’s men’s tennis team a six-match winning streak. After a tough 6-3 loss to Middlebury College (Va.) March 31, the Eagles have tore through their April opponents, recently winning on the road 9-0 against Sewanee College (Tenn.) April 11, 5-2 against Georgetown University (D.C.) April 13, 6-3 against Johns Hopkins University (Md.) April 14 and then 5-0 at home over Washington & Lee University (Va.) April 18.

Senior captain Josh Goodman attributed part of the team’s success to its close dynamic.

“We have 14 guys and everyone is behind the game plan,” Goodman said. “[Head Coach John Browning] gives us the opportunity as captains to get the guys going with a lot of energy to be ready to play.”

Senior captain Aman Manji noted the fantastic play of four of his teammates: Goodman, sophomores Adrien Bouchet and Jonathan Jemison and junior Alec Josepher.

In the Hopkins game, No. 3 singles player Bouchet defeated Austin Gu 6-2, 6-1, and No. 6 Goodman topped Aaron Carey 6-2, 6-4.

Manji, the Eagles’ No. 1 singles player, made successful appearances at both the Hopkins match, where he defeated Jeremy Dublin, 7-5, 4-6, 1-0 (10-3), and the Georgetown match, where he won 6-7, 6-3, 6-3.

The Eagles’ home match April 18 was cut short due to stormy weather conditions, but not before Manji and Jemison claimed victories in No. 1 and No. 2 singles, respectively.

Manji commended his teammates for consistently bringing their all to the court. If Manji had it his way, everyone would reach the playing level of those four stars by the end of the year.

As the team looks to the end of the season, Browning wants his team to focus on the mental aspects of the game.

“It’s not always the most talented teams that win the NCAA, but it’s the most mentally resilient one that can withstand ups and downs,” Browning said. “It’s about being mentally present and maintaining focus in pressure-filled situations.”

Becoming a more cohesive team has also been a clear goal for the Eagle’s captains.

“I want to make sure everyone has a good time and for everyone to come away with no regrets,” Manji said. “I want everyone to know that we gave it our all and had fun in the process.”

On April 19, the Eagles will compete in their last match of the regular season, away against Georgia Gwinnett College (Ga.).