He’s Only Umen: Freshman Wins Tiebreaker to Help #18 Spartans Upset #10 CMU

He’s Only Umen: Freshman Wins Tiebreaker to Help #18 Spartans Upset #10 CMU

Case Western Reserve University freshman Aaron Umen battled his way to a third-set tiebreaker win at third singles to help the 18th-ranked Spartans defeat the 10th-ranked Carnegie Mellon University Tartans 5-4 in the consolation semifinals at the ITA Indoor National Championships in Pepper Pike, Ohio at the Cleveland Racquet Club on Saturday.

The win raises the Spartans' record to 5-1 on the season, and advances the team (seeded eighth in the tournament) to the fifth-place match against eighth-ranked and third-seeded Gustavus Adolphus College on Sunday.  Carnegie Mellon, seeded fifth in the draw, dropped to 3-3 on the year and will take on seventh-seeded and 13th-ranked Whitman College in the seventh-place match on Sunday.

The Spartans took the early advantage on Saturday with wins in each of the doubles matches, despite trailing in all three early on.  Junior Zach Hennessey and sophomore Matthew Chen put the Spartans on the board with an 8-5 win over Nicholas Calzolano and Ray Boppana at second doubles.  Each of the remaining two doubles matches would be nail-biters, with both going into tiebreakers.  At third doubles, the pairing of Umen and freshman Chaitanya Aduru defeated Yannick Bloem and Vayum Arora 8-7 (2) to put CWRU ahead 2-0.

Junior Anthony Kanam and sophomore Jonathan Powell (ranked 25th among DIII doubles teams) would cap off the doubles sweep with a win over Carnegie Mellon's Daniel Levine and Chaz Downing, the fifth-ranked duo in Division III, at first singles.  It was the second top-10 doubles pairing that the Spartans have defeated through two games at the ITA National Championships.

In singles play, the Tartans picked up points at second singles, where Downing defeated Kanam 6-2, 6-1, and at fifth singles, where Clark Safran topped senior Rob Stroup 6-2, 6-1, to pull back within a point, 3-2.  At no. 1 singles, Chen fought back from a one-set deficit against Levine, but ultimately succumbed to the seventh-ranked player in Division III, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, as Carnegie Mellon evened the overall match score 3-3, and shifted the pressure to the remaining three matches.

Powell would pull the Spartans within a match of clinching, battling his way to a 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 win over Sam Gibson at sixth singles, and setting the table for Umen's clincher.

Facing nationally 49th-ranked Boppana in the third singles match, Umen fell behind, dropping the first set 6-2, but fought back to claim a 6-4 victory in the second.  The third set was played close throughout, and Boppana forced a tiebreaker by knotting the score at six games apiece.  However, Umen controlled the pace of the tiebreaker, jumping out to a 3-0 lead, before eventually pulling away for a 7-3 tiebreak win, and clinching the team victory for the Spartans.

The match wrapped up at fourth singles, where freshman Max Vicario fell to Robert Levin in three tightly played sets, 6-7 (7), 7-5, 6-4.

The Spartans will conclude play at the ITA National Indoor Championships on Sunday, February 24th at 8:30 a.m. at the Mayfield Village Racquet Club against Gustavus Adolphus in the fifth-place match.  Fans can follow the action with live results at https://athletics.case.edu/sports/mten/live.