Stags Shine in ITA West Regional

Avinash Vemuri reached the semifinals this weekend.
Avinash Vemuri reached the semifinals this weekend.

CLAREMONT, Calif. - The Clarmeont-Mudd-Scripps men's tennis team kicked off the fall season in successful fashion as the Stags hosted the ITA West Regionals at the Biszantz Family Tennis Center over the weekend. Despite having graduated four starters from the 2017 No 2. ranked team, CMS sent more players deeper into the singles and doubles draws than any of the 10 teams in the field. Sophomores Jake Berber (CMC) and Nikolai Parodi (CMC) edged teammates Oscar Burney (CMC) and Julian Gordy (CMC) in a thrilling, three-set match 6-2, 5-7, 7-5 to win the doubles title. The Stags have now won the ITA West Region doubles title in back-to-back years, with Julian Gordy and Daniel Morkovine having won in 2016.

In singles play, the Stags saw four of their 12 participants reach the quarterfinals. Top-seeded Jack Katzman dropped just 10 games in his first six sets of the tournament to reach the quarterfinals. Katzman disposed of Joey Schwartz (6-3, 6-0 - Pomona-Pitzer), Hideto Kitagawa (6-1, 6-0 - Whittier), and Chad Le Duff (6-4, 6-2 - UC Santa Cruz).

Oscar Burney cruised through his first two matches of the tournament with victories of 6-2, 6-0 and 6-1, 6-0 to reach the round of 16. His match with teammate Robert Liu (CMC) was one of three epic three-set battles that the Stags' first year player played over the final two days of the tournament. Liu took the first set 7-6 (4) before Burney battled back to even the mach at 1-1 with a 6-2 set two victory. Burney edged Liu 7-6 (3) in the final set to advance and take on Katzman in the quarterfinals.

On the other side of the bracket, third-seeded Daniel Park's consistent play placed him in the quarterfinals after victories over Samual Gearou (6-3, 6-3 - Pomona-Pitzer), Sam Hum (6-3, 6-1 - Colorado College), and Yahn Gawrit (6-4, 6-3 - Cal Lutheran). Like Burney and Katzman, Park would also face a fellow teammate in the quarterfinals.

Avi Vemuri (CMC) first took out Whittier's Agustin Lombardi (6-3, 6-4) before advancing past Redlands' Noah Morrow (6-3, 5-7, 6-2) in three sets. Vemuri's three-set victory in the second round set up a date with teammate Julian Gordy (CMC) in the round of 16. Vemuri topped Gordy 6-4, 6-1 to set-up the meeting with Park in the quarters.

The two all-CMS quarterfinals were both three set affairs that saw Katzman (7-6(5), 2-6, 6-2) and Vemuri (4-6, 6-4, 6-4) advance to the semifinals.

Unfortunately for Katzman and Vemuri, the semifinals is where their runs in singles play would end. Katzman fell 6-3, 6-4 to Pomona-Pitzer's Jed Kronenberg and Vemuri was upended 6-4, 7-6(4) by eventual champion Chase Lipscomb (Redlands).

Lipscomb would go on to win the singles title with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Kronenberg in the final. Lipscomb's victory snaps a six-year streak of Stags singles champions at the ITA West Regional from 2011-2016.

If the Stags were consistent in the singles event, they were outright dominate in doubles play. All six CMS teams in the 32-team doubles field advanced to the second round with five teams moving on to the quarterfinals.

The team of Burney and Gordy faced their toughest test in their first-round match, saving eleven (11) match points en route to defeating the Redlands team of Morrow and Nilsson-Redman 9-7. An 8-4 victory over Bicks and Mandic (Pomona-Pitzer) and an 8-3 decision over Whittier's Kozowski and sent Burney and Gordy to face the top-seeded team of Dugan and Stone (UC Santa Cruz) in the Semifinals.

On the other side of the bracket, the CMS teams of Berber-Parodi and Katzman-Casey Morris (CMC) took similar paths to the semifinals. Berber and Parodi won their first three matches by scores of 8-3, 8-4, and 8-4 while Katzman and Morris took their matches 8-3, 8-5, and 8-4 to set up an all-CMS semifinal. Berber and Parodi got the best of their teammates 8-3 and advanced to the doubles finals.

In their battle with the tournament's top-seed, Burney and Gordy squandered leads of 4-0 and 5-1, but held on to outlast their UC Santa Cruz foes 9-7 and set-up and all-CMS doubles final.

Playing a best-of-three set final, Berber and Parodi easily took the first set 6-2. Burney and Gordy battled back and took the second set 7-5 and evened the match at one set all. As the quality of doubles continued to rise, the momentum from the second set lifted Burney-Gordy to a 5-3 lead with Burney serving for the match. Berber and Parodi yielded only the first point of the ninth game, battling back to break serve and going on to win the next four games to take the set 7-5 and the match (6-2, 5-7, 7-5).

With their victory in the doubles tournament, Jake Berber and Nikolai Parodi will advance to the ITA Oracle Cup in Rome, Ga. on Oct. 11-15, and earn ITA All-American status.