CMS advances to NCAA title match with win over Middlebury

Zhenya Pereverzin (photo by Ellen Friedlander)
Zhenya Pereverzin (photo by Ellen Friedlander)

(Postmatch interview)


CLAREMONT, Calif. – In the semifinals of the NCAA Division III Men's Tennis Championships, the top ranked Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men's tennis team fought their way to a 5-2 victory over #3 Middlebury on May 20 at the Biszantz Family Tennis Center.  Middlebury is now 21-4 and plays Trinity on May 21 at 10:00 a.m. in the third place match. CMS improves to 30-1 on the season and advances to the NCAA Division III Championship match for the second straight year in a row where they will face #2 Amherst.

CMS took the doubles advantage for the 29th time in thirty matches this season as top pair Joe Dorn and Warren Wood were 8-5 winners over Middlebury's Alex Johnston and Andrew Lebovitz.  The next two doubles results were determined on successive points at #2 and #3, as CMS'  Skyler Butts and Neel Kotrappa lost a tough 9-7 decision at No. 2 doubles, but Nik Marino and Zhenya Pereverzin defeated Middlebury's Peter Heidrich and Ari Smolyar by the same 9-7 score at No. 3 doubles, to give CMS the 2-1 advantage heading into singles.

Middlebury wasted no time in seizing back the momentum of the dual match by winning four of six first sets. Then, after more than ninety minutes of singles play, Alex Johnston leveled the match at two-all with his straight set win over CMS' Warren Wood at #1.  Middlebury's optimism would prove to be fleeting however, as Marino put the Stags back on top with his three-set win at #3 over Palmer Campbell.

At #4 singles, Butts had to fight back from a set and 4-5 down, before winning the last three games of the second set. Butts then gained a service break advantage early in the third, before finding himself again serving to stay in the match at 4-5. With a partisan crowd fervently encouraging his every move, Butts saved two match points at 4-5 and then went on to break and then serve out the match for the Stags' fourth point.  Meanwhile, senior captain Pereverzin had just begun a decisive tie-break in the third at #6, while Dorn and freshman Daniel Morkovine were early in third sets at #2 and #5 respectively. For the second consecutive match, it was Pereverzin clinching with an impressive 7-2 tie-break win.

CMS advances to the championship match for the eighth time in program history and will be looking to grab the program's second overall national championship.  CMS last won an NCAA title in 1981. 

#1 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (5) vs. #3 Middlebury (2)
May 20, 2014 at Claremont, CA (Biszantz Family Tennis Center) - NCAA Team Championship Semifinals

1. Joe Dorn / Warren Wood (CMS) def. Alex Johnston / Andrew Lebovitz (Middlebury) 8-5
2. Brantner Jones / Palmer Campbell (Middlebury) def. Neel Kotrappa / Skyler Butts (CMS) 9-7
3. Nik Marino / Zhenya Pereverzin (CMS) def. Peter Heidrich / Ari Smolyar (Middlebury) 9-7

1. Alex Johnston (Middlebury) def. Warren Wood (CMS) 6-3, 6-4
2. Joe Dorn (CMS) vs. Brantner Jones (Middlebury) 2-6, 7-6(5), 4-3 DNF
3. Nik Marino (CMS) def. Palmer Campbell (Middlebury) 6-3, 1-6, 6-2
4. Skyler Butts (CMS) def. Ari Smolyar (Middlebury) 1-6, 7-5, 7-5
5. Daniel Morkovine (CMS) vs. Courtney Mountifield (Middlebury) 5-7, 6-3, 0-3 DNF
6. Zhenya Pereverzin (CMS) def. Jackson Frons (Middlebury) 7-5, 4-6, 7-6(2)

Order of completion
Doubles: 1, 2, 3
Singles: 1, 3, 4, 6