No. 9 Spartans Triumph Over No. 5 CMU, Advance to Elite 8 in California

The Spartans become the first team in program history to advance to the NCAA Elite 8. (photo by Marty Santek)
The Spartans become the first team in program history to advance to the NCAA Elite 8. (photo by Marty Santek)

PITTSBURGH – Freshman James Fojtasek (Cypress, Texas/Cypress Woods) scored the winning point in the third set of No. 5 singles, and the No. 9 nationally ranked Case Western Reserve University men's tennis team advanced to the NCAA Championship Tournament Elite 8 for the first time in program history with a 5-4 triumph versus No. 5 Carnegie Mellon University on Sunday at CMU Tennis Courts.

The Spartans (17-7) will now play No. 3 Middlebury College (Vt.) on Monday, May 19 at Biszantz Family Tennis Center in Claremont, California. The final three rounds of the tournament will all take place in the Golden State.

Regional host Carnegie Mellon ends its season at 18-7.

The Spartans built early advantages in all three doubles matches and wound up with a 2-1 lead thanks to wins at No. 2 and No. 3.

Seniors John Healey (Columbia, Md./Atholton) and Derek Reinbold (Carmel, Ind./Park Tudor) opened the scoring with an 8-4 victory against Bryce Beisswanger and Kiril Kirkov before CMU picked up the point at No. 1, 8-6. Then at No. 3, freshman James Fojtasek (Cypress, Texas/Cypress Woods) and sophomore Louis Stuerke (Overland Park, Kan./Blue Valley Northwest) rallied from two down to secure a key 8-6 win over Yuvraj Kumar and Kenny Zheng.  

Singles opened with straight-set wins for the Tartans at No. 4 and No. 3, making the score 3-2 in favor of the hosts. Then with his team trailing, Spartan junior Will Drougas (Roanoke, Va./Salem) won a second-set tiebreaker to defeat Christian Heaney-Secord by counts of 6-3, 7-6. After a CMU three-set win at No. 1, Healey rallied to keep the Spartans alive with a 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 win versus Kunal Wadwani at No. 6.

His two combined wins for the day give Healey 136 for his career, just three behind Kyle Gerber's '13 school record of 139.

Right at that point, Fojtasek was headed to a third set versus Zheng, a fellow freshman. After each player took a set by a score of 7-5, Fojtasek provided the heroics with a 6-2 victory in the third.

Along with CWRU and Middlebury, the other six schools to clinch a spot in the Elite 8 are host Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, Johns Hopkins University (Md.), Amherst College (Mass.), Emory University (Ga.), Washington University in St. Louis and Trinity University (Texas).