2016-17 CWRU Men’s Tennis Season Recap

2016-17 CWRU Men’s Tennis Season Recap

The Case Western Reserve University men's tennis team matched the program record for victories for the second-straight season in 2016-17, while finishing the year ranked 15th among NCAA Division III teams in the final Oracle/ ITA Poll.

The Spartans went 22-6 during the campaign to match the CWRU men's tennis high-water mark for victories in a year, previously set during the 2012-13 and 2015-16 seasons.  The Spartans tallied an impressive 6-2 record against teams that qualified for the NCAA Championships, including victories against Trinity University (ranked 14th at the time of the match and 13th in the final poll), Whitman College (ranked eighth at the time of the match and 14th in the final poll) and Kenyon College (ranked 25th at both the time of the match and the final poll).  Case Western Reserve also compiled nine 9-0 sweeps during the course of the season.  The team was ranked as high as eighth in the national poll during the season, before ending the campaign as the 15th-ranked Division III team, and finished the year as the fourth-ranked squad in the Central Region. 

Junior James Fojtasek, the Spartans' no. 1 singles player throughout the spring, completed the season as the 13th-ranked singles player in the region, while the team's no. 1 doubles pairing of senior Fred Daum and sophomore John Benedetto ended the year ranked 15th in the Central Region.  Three other CWRU players earned All-UAA recognition, with sophomore Rob Stroup claiming a spot on the second team for his play at third singles, while senior Josh Dughi (no. 5 singles) and freshman Sam Concannon (no. 6 singles) each claimed all-conference honorable mentions.

CWRU singles players combined for a .623 winning percentage in 2016-17, including a 124-44 record (.738 winning percentage) in dual matches.  Concannon led the team in wins with a 24-7 record, the sixth-most victories in a single season in program history.  Dughi and Stroup added 18 wins each, and senior Kevin Dong and freshman Anthony Kanam registered 16 victories apiece.  In doubles action, Daum and Bendetto were 14-11 over the year, including a 12-9 record at no. 1 doubles, while Fojtasek and senior Phillip Gruber were 14-7 together during the year, primarily playing at no. 2 doubles.  As a team, the Spartans went 91-66 in doubles matches during the year, including 60-24 in the spring for a .714 winning percentage.

The Spartans won their first three matches of the spring, before playing host to the 2017 ITA Indoor National Championships for the second-straight season at the Cleveland Racquet Club in Pepper Pike, Ohio from February 24-26.   The team placed sixth at the event, including a 5-4 win over Trinity, with Dong clinching the match with a 6-3, 6-3 win at no. 6 singles.

CWRU also picked up a win at the prestigious Stag-Hen Invitational in Claremont, California over spring break, defeating then eighth-ranked Whitman College 5-4.  Once again, it was Dong who secured the team win in the match, breaking a 4-4 tie with a three-set tiebreaker victory at fifth singles, 7-5, 2-6, 7-6 (6).  Following the Stag-Hen, the Spartans would launch on nine-match winning streak heading into the UAA Championships.  The streak began with a 5-4 win over 25th-ranked Kenyon (with Stroup clinching the victory with a 5-7, 7-5, 6-1 win at third singles) and a 6-3 win over the 31st-ranked Lewis & Clark College.

The Spartans would go on to place sixth at the UAA Championships, before wrapping up their 2016-17 campaign on April 29 with a pair of 9-0 wins over future NCAA Tournament teams in John Carroll University and Franciscan University, with the second victory of the day matching the program win record.

In the fall, Dughi reached the round of 16 of the singles draw at the ITA Fall DIII Central Region Championships, while both Concannon and freshman Siddharth Rajupet advanced to the round of 32.  In the doubles draw at the event, the pairings of Dughi and Stroup and Concannon and Rajupet each reached the round of 32.

Dughi ended his career as a Spartan with a 66-26 singles record, the sixth-most wins and fourth-best winning percentage in team history, while Dong's 47 singles wins were the 10th-most in CWRU history.  Gruber's 57-25 career doubles ledger marked the ninth-most wins and seventh-best winning percentage (.695) in doubles play in CWRU history.  In addition, Fojtasek will enter his senior season tied for the eighth-most singles victories (53-30) and the seventh-most doubles win (64-24) in program history.

In addition to their success on the court, five members of the team received UAA Spring All-Academic recognition – Benedetto, senior Adam Collins, Dong, Gruber and sophomore David Zakhodin.

The Spartans earned the following honors during the 2016-17 season:

 

All-University Athletic Association

 

Rob Stroup

Cleveland, Ohio / University School

No. 3 Singles

Second Team

Josh Dughi

Miami, Fla. / Ransom Everglades

No. 5 Singles

Honorable Mention

Sam Concannon

Indianapolis, Ind. / Culver Military School

No. 6 Singles

Honorable Mention

 

UAA Athlete of the Week

James Fojtasek

Cypress, Texas / Cypress Woods

May 2