No. 12 CWRU to Open Spring Season this Week

No. 12 CWRU to Open Spring Season this Week

The 12th-ranked Case Western Reserve University men's tennis team will get its 2020 spring season started this weekend, when the Spartans face the University of Northwestern Ohio on Friday, February 7 at 7:00 p.m. at the Twos Athletic Club in Toledo, Ohio, and then travel to Holland, Michigan to take on the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology at 11:30 a.m. and Hope College at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, February 8.

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The Spartans will enter the spring looking to build off the momentum from a strong fall season, during which the squad combined to 67-28 (.705) in singles play and 42-15 (.737) in doubles matches. The Spartans were ranked 12th in the first Oracle/ ITA Division III team rankings, released in January, and were fifth in the Central Region. Individually, first-year James Hopper was ranked fifth nationally in singles play and junior Matthew Chen was ranked 22nd, while the two form the top-ranked doubles pairing in Division III entering the spring. Hopper is also ranked first in the Central Region in singles play, while Chen is fifth. The duo is the top-ranked doubles pairing in the region as well, while senior Zach Hennessey and junior Jonathan Powell are ranked seventh in the Central Region.

Hopper and Chen combined to claim the ITA Cup Division III Doubles National Championship in the fall, going 13-1 together in doubles play. Hopper also finished the fall with a 16-1 singles record, winning the ITA Central Region Championship and finished fifth in the ITA Cup Division III singles draw.

Case Western Reserve is coming off a 21-9 campaign in 2019, one win shy of matching the program's single season record. Hopper should be a major addition to a lineup that will be returning five of its six singles players from last year's conference tournament lineup, and all six of its doubles players. Chen played first singles throughout the 2019 campaign for the Spartans, while sophomore Aaron Umen will be aiming to follow up a successful inaugural collegiate campaign, during which he went 18-10 overall in singles matches and 10-5 as the team's no. 2 singles player. Senior Anthony Kanam, the will enter the spring with 60 career singles wins, the eighth-most in the program's history, and Powell has gone 31-3 over his singles career, good for the best winning percentage in program history (.912). Sophomore Chaitanya Aduru anchored the fifth spot in the Spartans' lineup last year, going 16-4 in singles play as a first-year.

Adding experience to the Spartans' spring roster will be senior Henry Squire, juniors Earl Hsieh, Aris Jhaveri, Austin Lawrence, and Neil Mabee, and sophomore Max Vicario. First-years John Kasner, Diego Maza and Michael Sutanto all received a taste of their first collegiate action in the fall, and will be looking to make an impact for the team in the spring.

The Northwestern Ohio Racers opened their spring campaign last Saturday with a 5-2 home loss to Kenyon. The team is now 3-3 overall on the season, which includes matches from the fall semester. The Racers' lineup features junior Marcos Salazar, who is ranked 14th in the NAIA, and the NAIA's fourth-ranked pairing of Salazar and first-year Sergio Conde.

Saturday's match against the Spartans will be the first of the season for Rose-Hulman, which finished their 2019 campaign with a 14-10 overall record. The team is led by senior Ian Landwehr, who went 2-1 during the fall season. CWRU secured a 9-0 win over the Fightin' Engineers when the two teams met last, as the beginning of the 2019 campaign.

Hope has begun its spring campaign with a 0-2 record following loses to Grace (8-1) and Davenport (7-0) last Friday, and will face Cornerstone on Friday and Augustana on Saturday before taking on the Spartans later in the day. Last year, CWRU claimed a 9-0 win over Hope at the Mayfield Village Racquet Club.

This weekend's action will kick-off a 24-match regular-season schedule for the Spartans, who are under the leadership of 12th-year Head Coach Todd Wojtkowski. Wojtkowski will enter the season 12 wins shy of 200 for his career, with an overall mark of 188-100 in dual matches, good for a .652 winning percentage.

Included in the Spartans' regular season schedule are 21 matches against Division III teams, 10 of which are nationally ranked entering the season. A major early-season test for CWRU will come at the ITA Indoor Nationals, where the team will open play against second-ranked Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, and then face two other nationally-ranked teams among a field that also includes no. 1 Emory, no. 4 Chicago, no. 8 Brandeis, no. 9 Washington U., no. 11 Kenyon and no. 20 Gustavus Adolphus.

After the ITA Indoor Nationals, the Spartans will host 35th-ranked Hobart and 37th-ranked Rochester on March 1, before heading on a Spring Break trip to Orlando for nine scheduled matches from March 8-11, including contests against sixth-ranked Wesleyan and 14th-ranked Carnegie Mellon. Other key matchups during the year include a March 28 faceoff at 11th-ranked Kenyon, an April 4th home contest against 40th-ranked Christopher Newport, and an April 10th matchup against 29th-ranked Kalamazoo.

The 2020 UAA Championships will be from Thursday, April 23 – Saturday, April 25 in Altamonte Springs, Florida, and should once against feature one of the most talented draws outside of the NCAA Championships. Each of the eight teams in the conference are nationally ranked, with six of the squads (including the Spartans) ranked in the top-15 nationally.

Should the Spartans qualify, the first three rounds of the NCAA team championships will be from May 8-10. Advancing teams will travel to Saint Louis, Missouri for the NCAA quarterfinals, semifinals and finals at the Dwight Davis Memorial Tennis Center from May 18-20. The NCAA singles and doubles championships will be from May 22-24, also in Saint Louis.