Watts captures men’s tennis individual National Championship

| Senior Sports Editor

In a fitting end to an illustrious career, Washington University senior John Watts has won the 2010 NCAA Division III men’s tennis SinglesNational Championship.

“It feels great. The whole tournament went really well for me. I played a lot of good tennis in the tournament, and then winning today was just icing on the cake,” Watts said. “I played really well today. I thought I played my style of tennis.”

Watts defeated Emory University’s sophomore Chris Goodwin 6-1, 6-2, on Sunday in Oberlin, Ohio, to capture the title.

“The score made it seem like it the match wasn’t that close, but it was a very hard-fought match from both of us. It was very close until the very end, and I was glad I came out a winner,” Watts said.

He took the first set of the match without losing his serve and gained a 2-1 advantage in the second set. After rallying from a 40-love deficit to win the fourth game, Watts broke Goodwin to go up 4-1.

They split the next two games, but up 5-2 with a 40-love lead, Watts dropped two straight points behind a missed volley and a double fault. However, Goodwin missed a drop shot for the final point of the championship.

Watts is no stranger to Emory tennis. Washington University not only played the Eagles twice this past season, winning 5-4 and losing 2-5, but also defeated the team to win the 2008 Division III National Championship.

“We’ve seen him [before], so I knew what I was up against, but at the same time, they also knew who I was too, so I think any sort of advantage canceled out there,” Watts said.

Earlier in the tournament, Watts defeated Eric Shulman of Christopher Newport University 6-0, 0-6, 6-3, Amherst’s Mark Kahan 6-3, 6-0, UC Santa Cruz’s Brian Pybas in the quarterfinals 6-3, 6-1, and Andrew Lee of Middlebury College 7-6, 6-3, to advance to the tournament finals.

“My freshman year, I got to the finals and lost, and then in my sophomore year I got to the semifinals and lost to the eventual champion. Last year, I got to the quarterfinals and lost, so this year, it was one of my goals to do very well in this tournament and try and go out with a win…to cap off the four years,” Watts said.

For Watts, the championship adds one more accolade to the most decorated student-athlete in Washington University men’s tennis program history. He has a 238-43 overall record, the best in school history, including a 133-21 singles record and 105-22 doubles record.

“I’m not really concerned too much with a legacy,” Watts said. “For me, for a sense of personal accomplishment, [the win] was great just because it showed that if I worked hard for the past three or four years, it paid off with this final culminating tournament. I really enjoyed the tournament, I had a great time, and I just feel great right now.”