The Case Western Reserve University men's tennis team started off strong and grabbed an early lead against third-ranked Chicago in the opening round match of the 2019 Intercollegiate Tennis Association Indoor National Championships on Friday afternoon, but the 18th-ranked Spartans' upset bid ultimately fell short in a 6-3 loss to the Maroons at the Cleveland Racquet Club in Pepper Pike, Ohio.
The loss was the first of the season for the eighth-seeded Spartans, who dropped to 4-1 overall on the season, while top-seeded Chicago improved to 7-0.
The Spartans applied early pressure to the top-seed Friday, winning a pair of doubles matches to take the early lead. Chicago struck first, with the Maroons' duo of Josh Xu and Charlie Pei defeating freshmen Aaron Umen and Chaitanya Aduru 8-4 at third doubles. However, CWRU responded with an 8-3 win at no. 1 doubles from junior Anthony Kanam and sophomore Jonathan Powell over Chicago's Tyler Raclin and Jeremy Yuan (the sixth-ranked doubles pairing in DIII) to even the score, and at second doubles, junior Zach Hennessey and sophomore Matthew Chen defeated Erik Kerrigan and Ninan Kumar (ranked 20th in DIII) 8-5 to give the Spartans a 2-1 lead heading into singles play.
The Maroons knotted the match at 2-2 with a win by Alejandro Rodriguez at fourth singles over freshman Max Vicario, 6-2, 6-4, and took a 3-2 lead with a 6-3, 6-2 victory from Yuan over Kanam at second singles. At first singles, Kerrigan claimed a 6-4, 7-5 victory over Chen to put the Maroons a match away from clinching the team win, and Xu secured the win for Chicago with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Powell at sixth singles.
Pei followed with a three-set win over Umen, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, to add to the Maroons' victory, and at fifth singles senior Rob Stroup salvaged a point for the Spartans, picking up a 6-4, 7-5 victory over Alex Guzhva.
The Spartans will now advance to the consolation semifinals on Saturday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. against fifth-seeded and nationally 10th-ranked Carnegie Mellon University (3-2) at the Cleveland Racquet Club. Fans can follow the action with live results and video, available on the tournament webpage at https://athletics.case.edu/sports/mten/2018-19/ITAIndoors/index.