CMS Men's Tennis Falls 5-3 in National Title Match to Emory

Nikolai Parodi and Julian Gordy provided one of the points for CMS with an 8-4 win at No. 1 doubles
Nikolai Parodi and Julian Gordy provided one of the points for CMS with an 8-4 win at No. 1 doubles

KALAMAZOO, Mich. - The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men's tennis team battled back from a 2-1 doubles deficit to take a 3-2 lead, but Emory was able to respond and come away with the final three decisions for a 5-3 win in the NCAA Division III Championship match on Wednesday afternoon at Stowe Stadium, ending the CMS season as national runners-up.

The loss leaves CMS with a final team record of 33-2, although two individuals and one doubles team will continue on to compete at the NCAA singles and doubles championships later this week. Emory ends with a 19-2 record after picking up its second national title in the last three years, both coming against the Stags. 

Doubles and singles both featured big momentum swings along the way, with the final swing going in the Eagles' favor each time. Emory had the upper hand in doubles in the early going, but CMS surged back, with Nikolai Parodi and Julian Gordy overcoming an early 2-0 deficit for an 8-4 win for the first doubles point. 

Juniors Daniel Park and Oscar Burney then nearly pulled off an epic comeback at No. 2 doubles after being down 7-2, coming all the back to get on serve at 7-6 and having a chance to hold to get it to a tiebraker, while the CMS No. 3 doubles team of sophomore Jack Katzman and Robert Liu led 6-4, giving the Stags a reasonable chance at a doubles sweep after Emory had the early advantage. However, the Eagles No. 2 team of James Spaulding and Will Wanner was able to get to deuce and come away with a big service break to get the 8-6 win and get the match back level. 

At No. 3, meanwhile, Emory's Hayden Cassone and Antonio Mora broke back to pull within 6-5 and then captured the next three games in a row to come back for an 8-6 win and give Emory a 2-1 lead going into singles. 

CMS took the momentum back early in singles, getting break advantages on four courts early, but Emory's Adrien Bouchet was able to come back after losing his serve in the early going for a 6-4 win at No. 3, to give each team the first set on three courts, which favored Emory with a 2-1 lead. The Stags ended up with two quick singles wins, as freshman Nic Meister was able to roll to a 6-2, 6-1 win at No. 6 and Katzman continued his undefeated spring in singles with a 6-2, 6-2 win at No. 2, giving CMS a 3-2 lead. 

The pendulum then swung back Emory's way, as Bouchet finished off a 6-4, 6-1 win at No. 3, and Mora won the final three games for a 6-3, 6-3 win at No. 4 to give the Eagles back the lead. Park was able to get a split at No. 5 with a 6-2 second-set win for the Stags, but Jonathan Jemison was able to do the same for the Eagles at No. 1, taking the second set 6-3 after Parodi won the first set 6-3 for CMS. 

Momentum momentarily swung towards CMS as Park picked up a break at No. 5 for a 2-1 lead, and Parodi had a break and a hold to go ahead 3-2 in the third set at No. 1. However, Andrew Esses broke back for Emory at No. 5 to take a 3-2 lead, and Jemison did the same at No. 1 to go ahead 4-3, swinging the momentum one final time. Parodi had a break point to try to get back to 4-4, but Jemison held it off and was able to get his hold, and then finished out the match with a break at 30-40, when Parodi hit a shot off the top of the tape that popped in the air and stayed on the near set of the net for the final point of the match. 

Parodi will continue on at both the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships which get underway on Friday, joining Gordy in the doubles competition, while Katzman will also take part in the singles competition. The Stags will graduate three seniors off this year's team, including Gordy, who has been a stalwart in the CMS doubles lineup, as well as Alfred Simental and Avinash Vemuri, but CMS will have five of its six NCAA singles players back, including Parodi and Katzman in the 1-2 spots, as it looks to make another run at a national title next year.