Kotrappa, Wood and Dorn Capture USTA / ITA West Titles
CMS Stags Tennis players Neel Kotrappa (Jr. - La Verne, CA), Warren Wood (So. - Del Mar, CA), and Joe Dorn (So. - Washington D.C.) won USTA / ITA West Regional Championships on Sunday. Kotrappa won the singles title with a thrilling 2-6, 6-4, 7-5 win over 4th seeded Chris Wiechert from Pomona-Pitzer. Wood and Dorn captured the doubles title with a 6-4, 6-3 win over the 6th seeded team of Julian Seneviratne and David Konstantinov of Whittier. Kotrappa, Wood and Dorn all earn ITA All-American honors and will advance to the USTA / ITA Small College National Championships in Mobile, Alabama October 11-14.
Kotrappa's championship effort in the singles draw was a case study in perseverance and self belief. Unseeded, he advanced to the semifinals on Sunday without losing a set. Facing 7th seed Ray Worley of Cal Lutheran in the semis, Kotrappa saved his first match point at 2-6, 1-5, and then another at 3-5 in the second set, both on Worley's serve. Kotrappa then shifted the momentum of the match by forcing and then winning a second set tie-break. He capped off the improbable comeback by producing the third set's only service break in the tenth and final game.
Seemingly fatigued from his three hour fifteen minute semifinal win, Kotrappa couldn't match Wiechert's consistency or focus in the first set of the championship match. Having lost the first set 2-6, Kotrappa summoned untapped mental and physical strength to dictate the second set, breaking Wiechert's serve at 4-5 to force a decisive third. Refreshed after a ten minute heat index break following the second set, Kotrappa earned an early break and raced out to his first lead of the match at 3-0 in the third. After three consecutive holds, Wiechert then snatched back the momentum, breaking and holding for 4-all. Three more holds brought the third set to 5-6, when Kotrappa saw his first of three championship points at 15-40. Wiechert's bold play helped him save the first two, but then yielded a double fault at deuce and a wayward forehand at ad-out, to give Kotrappa his first ITA title.
Second seeded Wood and Dorn advanced to Sunday's championship match with quarterfinal and semifinal pro-set wins over the 5th and 4th seeded pairs respectively. Wood was the only player on court to have played for an ITA title, having lost in the 2011 West Regional doubles final with Alex Lane. Wood and Dorn got out to a quick two break lead in the first before closing out 6-4 in their second attempt to serve for the set. An early break in the second put the Stags in command, albeit briefly; the Poets broke back and then held for a 3-2 lead and what would be the last two games they would win.
Wood and Dorn become the first CMS doubles team to win the Regional title since 2007, when Ben Hough and Lawrence Wang were West champions. Kotrappa is the fifth regional singles champion from CMS in the past seven years, with Lane winning in 2011. This is the first time since 2006 - when Mike Starr won the singles and William Ellison and David Oehm won the doubles - that CMS has swept both men's events. Similarly, in 2006 and again this year, CMS swept both the men's and women's singles and doubles titles.
The USTA / ITA National Small College Championships, held at the Copeland-Cox Tennis Center in Mobile, Alabama, will feature the top eight singles players and doubles teams in the country.