Sunday proved to be a historical day for the Case Western Reserve University men's tennis program, as first-year James Hopper and junior Matthew Chen became the first duo in program history to win the doubles title at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Fall Central Region Championships in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Just hours later, Hopper made history again, becoming the first CWRU player (men's or women's program) to win the ITA Fall Regional Singles Championship
By virtue of winning the singles and doubles draws, both Chen and Hopper will earn All-America honors for the 2019-20 season. They are the first CWRU men's tennis All-Americans since CJ Krimbill and Louis Stuerke in 2015-16. Hopper and Chen become the fourth and fifth All-Americans in program history, along with Krimbill, Stuerke and Erik Klawitter (2013-14).
Chen and Hopper will also receive a berth into the field for the 2019 ITA Cup to face the winners of the other ITA Division III Regional Tournaments across the country. The ITA Cup will be held in Rome, Georgia from October 17th – 20th.
Chen and Hopper, who began the tournament as one of the draw's fifth seeds, opened the day with an 8-4 victory over fourth-seeded Bernardo Neves and Ben van der Sman of Washington University (Mo.) in the semifinals. On the other side of the draw, Chicago's Tyler Raclin and Joshua Xu, seeded third, claimed an 8-3 win over CWRU senior Zach Hennessey and junior Jonathan Powell to earn a berth into the title match.
Chen and Hopper would claim a 6-4 victory in the opening set, but suffered a 3-6 loss in the second set to even the match. However, the Spartans' duo would pick up a 10-5 win in the super set in the third to claim the ITA regional doubles title.
In the singles semifinals, Hopper (who entered the tournament unseeded) claimed a straight-set win over Washington's Daniel Li (seeded ninth), 6-4, 6-1, to earn his spot in the championship match against Kenyon's Jake Zalenski (seeded second), who bested Chen (seeded seventh) 6-1, 6-0 in the semifinals on Sunday.
Hopper secured the singles championship with a straight-set victory, defeating Zalenski 7-5, 6-4 in the title match.
Hopper became the first first-year player to win an ITA Regional Singles Championship since Chicago's Nicolas Chua in 2015.
Hopper finished the tournament with a 6-0 singles record and a 5-0 mark in doubles play, improving to 14-0 in singles matches to begin his career, and to 12-0 in doubles contests. He bested four seeded singles players on the way to the title – no. 1 Ethan Hillis (Washington), no. 2 Zalenski, no. 9 Timothy Cianciola (Denison) and no. 9 l Li – and combined with Chen to top three-seeded doubles teams – no. 1 Ninan Kumar and Erik Kerrigan (Chicago), no. 3 Raclin and Xu, and no. 4 Neves and van der Sman. Chen raised his season doubles record to 12-0 as well.
Case Western Reserve also had a contingent of athletes competing at the Oberlin Invitational on Sunday. Results from matches at the event will be posted to athletics.case.edu on Monday.