Men’s Tennis: After two blowouts, Bears fall to Emory in UAA finals

| Sports Reporter

Daniel Eicholtz | Student Life

John Watts serves against Graceland University on March 20. Watts was upset by Dillon Pottish on Sunday at first singles, as Wash. U. fell to Emory 2-5 in the UAA championship match.

Despite sweeping the No. 8-seeded New York University, 9-0, and handily defeating the No. 5-seeded Brandeis University, 5-1, the No. 1-seeded Washington University men’s tennis team fell to No. 2-seeded Emory University, 5-2, in the finals of the University Athletic Association championship tournament this past weekend. With the win, Emory, the No. 3 ranked team in the nation, captured its 20th UAA championship.

This was the fifth consecutive year that the two teams met in the finals of this tournament. The Bears won last year’s match 5-4 for their only UAA title.

Senior and national No. 1 John Watts suffered a rare singles loss to No. 4 Dillon Pottish, 6-0, 6-4. Watts had defeated Pottish at the ITA Small College Championships last fall but lost to him at the National Indoor Championships last February.

“[I give] a lot of credit to him. He was moving the ball well, and his backhand was great,” Watts said. “In the second set, I picked up my intensity, and I also played much more aggressively. I was really just a couple of points away from getting the advantage in the second set and maybe taking that second set.”

Another surprising finals loss came from the national No. 3 doubles duo of juniors Isaac Stein and Max Woods, who lost to Emory’s Chris Goodwin and Chris Jordan, 8-6.

“They made us play more balls than we made them play,” Stein said. “We hit some great shots, they got it back and made us play one more ball, and that’s how they won. They are two really good doubles players.”

Freshman Adam Putterman picked up Wash. U.’s only singles victory against Emory, 6-3, 7-5, and Watts and freshman Kareem Farah took the only doubles victory in the round, 8-5. The win upped Watts and Farah’s doubles record to 19-4 on the season and was also Watts’ 100th doubles victory of his career.

Despite the loss in the finals, the No. 2 Bears found solace in their lopsided victories in the first two rounds of the tournament. In singles over both rounds, Watts dropped only two games while Stein dropped only seven. The first doubles team of Stein and Woods and the third doubles team of senior Danny Levy and sophomore Cameron Chiang also won both of their first two matches. As a whole, the team won all but one match of the 15 it played over the first two rounds.

“It’s a three-day tournament, and I definitely thought we were prepared,” head coach Roger Follmer said. “The guys were ready in the mental and physical effort that it takes to win. And they know what it takes. They’ve done it before.”

In the Brandeis match on Saturday, Follmer picked up his 150th career win. But Follmer is far more concerned with the team’s overall success at the NCAA tournament in a few weeks than with his own personal accomplishments.

“I doubt anyone on our team would care about any of that stuff. I know I don’t,” Follmer said. “We look forward to playing Emory again. If we beat them the next time we play them, I’ll remember the Emory win more than the 150th win, or whatever it was.”

The Bears continue the season at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 1, against No. 19 DePauw University at the Tao Tennis Center before the NCAA Division III Championships in May.

“I think we are in good shape,” Follmer said. “It’s just a matter of shutting it down for a couple of days and starting practice up again on Wednesday.”