15th-Ranked Men’s Tennis to Open Spring Season against DI Competition

15th-Ranked Men’s Tennis to Open Spring Season against DI Competition

The Case Western Reserve University men's tennis team, ranked 15th among NCAA Division III teams, will open the spring portion of its 2018 schedule this weekend, when the team takes on a pair of NCAA Division I programs in Cleveland State University and Northern Illinois University at the Medical Mutual Tennis Pavilion in Cleveland, Ohio on Saturday, February 3rd.  The match against Northern Illinois is slated for a 2:00 p.m. start, to be followed by the match against Cleveland State at approximately 6:00 p.m.

The Spartans will be kicking off their dual match schedule after a strong showing in tournament play last fall.  The Spartans will enter the spring season ranked 15th in the Oracle/Intercollegiate Tennis Association Division III National Team Rankings, and fourth in the Central Region Rankings.  Over the course of six fall tournaments, the Spartans combined to register a .616 winning percentage in singles play (90-56) and a .545 winning percentage in doubles action (42-35).

Sophomore Anthony Kanam led the team in singles play during the fall with an 11-3 overall record, while sophomore Sam Concannon added a 9-3 mark.  In doubles action, sophomores Siddharth Rajupet and Henry Squire led the team with nine wins apiece.  The Spartans will be returning two All-UAA players from last year in junior Rob Stroup (who was named to the second team for his play at no. 3 singles) and Concannon (who was selected as an honorable mention for his play at no. 6 singles).  In addition, senior James Fojtasek, who ended last year as the 13th-ranked player in the region, will enter the spring with 53 singles victories over his career (the eighth-most in the program's history) and 66 doubles wins (fifth in school history).

Also returning for a Spartans' team that matched a program record for wins with a 22-6 overall record last year is sophomore Zach Hennessey, who went 5-1 in singles play and 7-2 in doubles action over the fall.  Freshmen looking to make an early spring impact for the Spartans include Matthew Chen, Will Grier, Josh Hsia, Earl Hsieh, Aris Jhaveri, Neil Mabee, and Jonathan Powell.

Northern Illinois stands at 5-1 on the season, including a 7-0 win over Saint Louis and a 4-3 win over Omaha last weekend, while Cleveland State stands at 3-2.  The two teams will play each other on Saturday morning prior to facing the Spartans later in the day.  Results and a recap of both matches will be posted to athletic.case.edu following the completion of competition on Saturday.

Saturday's matches will be the first of a challenging 2018 schedule for the Spartans, which will feature 10 scheduled matches against teams that appeared in the latest Oracle/ITA Rankings, with the likelihood of facing additional ranked teams at the Stag-Hen Invitational and the UAA Championships.  Including Saturday, CWRU will open its season with five-straight matches in the Cleveland area, including a February 10th matchup against ninth-ranked Chicago at the Medical Mutual Tennis Pavilion.  Other early-season contests against ranked Division III teams include a February 24th meeting with 32nd-ranked North Carolina Wesleyan in Newport News, Virginia, followed by a contest against 28th-ranked Christopher Newport the following day, and a March 3rd home match against 35th-ranked Hobart.

Case Western Reserve will head to California for Spring Break, where the team will play in the prestigious Stag-Hen Invitational at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges, playing the first of its three-matches in the tournament against fourth-ranked Bowdoin.  The Spartans will also face 13th-ranked Trinity University during their California trip.

Other ranked opponents on the Spartans' schedule include eighth-ranked Amherst and 31st-ranked Swarthmore on March 31st, 26th-ranked Kalamazoo on April 15, and 27th-ranked NYU at home on April 21.  The 2018 UAA Championships in Altamonte Springs, Florida from April 26-28 will conclude the regular season for CWRU, with the field of eight teams including seven squads that were ranked in the top-30 nationally to open the campaign.

The Spartans will be aiming to qualify for the NCAA Championships for the fourth time in program history in 2017-18.  The regional rounds are slated to be held from May 10-12 at a site to be determined, while the NCAA Division III Team, Singles and Doubles Championships will be held at the Biszantz Family Tennis Center in Claremont, California from May 21-26.