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Emory beats out men’s tennis at UAA Championship

Jon Lewis | Senior Sports Editor

The Washington University men’s tennis experienced a major case of deja vu this weekend at the UAA Championship in Altamonte Springs, Fla.

Last season, at the same event, the Bears cruised to an opening match victory against Brandeis University, fought through a close win against University of Chicago in the semifinal and ultimately came up short versus Emory University, the top-ranked team in the nation, in the final. The 2017 edition of the UAAs would prove to be nearly a shot-for-shot remake.

Match play began Friday against Brandeis. The Bears jumped ahead after doubles, recovering from junior Jason Haugen and sophomore Konrad Kozlowski’s loss at No. 1 to take a 2-1 lead. Senior Jeremy Bush and freshman J.J. Kroot picked up an 8-3 win, while sophomore Radha Vishnubhotla and freshman Bernardo Neves continued their solid run of form at No. 3 doubles, winning their eighth match of the season, 9-7.

Jeremy Bush smashes a forehand earlier this semester. The Bears lost to Emory in the UAA Championships this weekend. Grace Burton | Student Life

Jeremy Bush smashes a forehand earlier this semester. The Bears lost to Emory in the UAA Championships this weekend.

In singles, the Bears would quickly get the remaining wins. Though senior John Carswell dropped his match, 6-1, 6-1, the No. 4 through 6 players for Wash. U. would all win their matches. Bush and Kroot both picked up 6-1, 6-4 victories, while Kozlowski, appearing in the singles lineup for the first time since the team’s spring break trip to California, filled in at No. 6, picking up the clinching win for Wash. U., 5-7, 6-2, 6-2. Junior Johnny Wu won his match at No. 1 singles to stretch the final score to 6-3, advancing the Bears to the UAA semifinal for the 22nd consecutive season.

In the semifinal, Wash. U. came up against a familiar foe in Chicago. Just a week before, the Bears had hosted the Maroons in St. Louis, with Bush winning the decisive match in a 5-4 Bears victory.

This time, in Florida, the Bears once again used doubles play to jump ahead on the scoreline. Haugen and Kozlowski recovered from their loss the day before with an 8-4 victory over Chicago’s No. 15 pairing of Erik Kerrigan and Ninan Kumar. Bush and Kroot won their matchup against No. 6 Max Hawkins and Tyler Raclin, and Vishnubhotla and Neves rounded out the sweep.

In singles, Kroot quickly picked up the Bears’ fourth win of the afternoon, putting them on the brink of another UAA final appearance. After freshman Robin Engel lost his match at No. 5 singles, the clinching win came from Neves, 6-3, 4-6, 6-0. While Wu and Carswell dropped their matches, Bush added a sixth point for Wash. U. with a 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 victory.

The win over Chicago sent the Bears to the UAA final for the 12th straight season Sunday, where they once again faced Emory University, the No. 2 team in the country. Emory presented no small challenge for Wash. U., boasting both the No. 1 and No. 18 doubles pairs in the nation, as well as the No. 1 and No. 10 singles players. In the end, the Eagles’ firepower would prove to be too much for the Bears.

After sweeping doubles against Chicago, Wash. U. was swept by Emory, with Vishnubhotla and Neves coming close to sneaking a win at number three doubles, but eventually falling, 9-7. Going 0-for-3 in doubles was uncharacteristic for the Bears, who, up until Sunday, had not been swept in doubles all season.

The three-point deficit proved to be too much for Wash. U., who went on to lose five of six matches in singles. Wu fell in straight sets, 6-0, 6-4, while Carswell also lost, 6-1, 6-4. Neves, Bush and junior Shaun Berman all lost their matches as well, with the Bears’ lone victory coming from Kroot, who won at No. 5 singles, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2.

With a second straight runner-up finish in UAAs, the Bears now begin preparing for the national championship in May. In the meantime, Wash. U. has one more match scheduled next Sunday at home against the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. After that, Wash. U. will continue to practice through finals, and prepare for the announcement of the full field of the NCAA tournament bracket May 8.