No. 14 Spartans Fall in Epic NCAA Tournament Match with No. 2 Kenyon, 5-4

Eric Klawitter (photo by Dave Hilbert)
Eric Klawitter (photo by Dave Hilbert)

GAMBIER, Ohio – The No. 14 nationally-ranked Case Western Reserve University men's tennis team came oh so close but saw its historic season come to an end on Sunday afternoon in a 5-4 loss to No. 2 Kenyon College in the NCAA Championship Tournament Round of 16 at the Jasper Tennis Center. The match was moved indoors due to weather and lasted just under six hours.

The Spartans (22-7) conclude a season that saw the squad reach as high as No. 7 in the national rankings and earn the first team berth to the NCAA Championship in program history. Case's 22 wins also represent a school record.

The Lords (25-3), the top team in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Central Region, advance to NCAA Championship Quarterfinals to face Washington University-St. Louis next weekend in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Although the season ends for the Spartans as a team, senior Nicolas Howe (Shaker Heights, Ohio/Shaker Heights) and junior John Healey (Columbia, Md./Atholton) will hit the courts once more as a doubles tandem during the NCAA Doubles Championship in Kalamazoo on May 23-25.

The Lords grabbed the first point at No. 2 doubles before the Spartans evened the match with an 8-4 victory at No. 3 by seniors Richard Brunsting (Nashville, Tenn./Montgomery Bell Academy) and Alex Solove (Powell, Ohio/Olentangy Liberty) versus Kevin Ye and Wade Heerboth.

Then in a back-and-forth battle at the top spot, the Spartans' No. 1 duo of Howe and Healey, ranked fourth in the ITA Central Region, rallied from a point down to lead, 7-6. However, Kenyon's Paul Burgin and Tim Rosensteel came back with three in a row to claim a key point and put the Lords ahead, 2-1.

In singles action, Kenyon grabbed early leads in three of the four matches on the court except at No. 4 where junior Eric Klawitter (Arlington Heights, Ill./John Hersey) won quickly in straight-sets (6-4, 6-1) over C.J. Williams to even the match at 2-2.

Eventually, the top three singles matches all went to tie-breakers with the Spartans picking up the point at No. 1 from freshman Christopher Krimbill (Scottsdale, Ariz./Shadow Mountain) by scores of 2-6, 6-1, 6-3 versus Paul Burgin, the region's second-ranked player.  

With the Spartans ahead, 3-2, and matches five and six getting underway, Kenyon picked up the next two points at No. 3 then No. 2 to move back in front, 4-3.

In the fifth singles match, junior Derek Reinbold (Carmel, Ind./Park Tudor) won a marathon first set versus Rosensteel, 7-6. Then with Reinbold's second set tied at 4-4, Kenyon's Jacob Huber grabbed the opening set at No. 6 by a count of 7-5.

Rosensteel wound up winning that second set with Reinbold to put the Lords one set away from clinching the match. However, the match at No. 6 hit a stalemate in the second set and allowed Reinbold the time to tie the match with a 6-4 victory in his decisive set.

Then with the match hanging in the balance, Huber broke through in the sixth match with three-straight points to send his team to Kalamazoo.