Men’s Tennis Advances to NCAA Quartefinals

The ninth-ranked Washington University men’s tennis team erased a 4-0 deficit to post a 5-4 victory over No. 18 Kalamazoo College in the NCAA Division III Central Region championship match on Sunday afternoon in Kalamazoo, Mich.

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Washington U. picked up its 20th win of the season, breaking the single-season wins mark of 19 set in 1996. The Bears advance to the NCAA quarterfinals, which will be held May 15-17 at the Dwight Davis Tennis Center in St. Louis, Mo. This will mark the fourth time in school history the Bears have advanced to the quarterfinals.

“I asked the guys after doubles ‘do you want to work the tournament next weekend or play in it,'” said Washington University head coach Roger Follmer. “I have never been in that situation of coming back from a 4-0 deficit. Chris Hoeland started the wave and Charlie Cutler finished the job.”

Cutler, who is ranked No. 14 in the latest ITA Division III rankings, dropped the first set 7-6 and trailed 3-1 in the second. He rallied to win five of the next six games to claim the second set, 6-4. Cutler trailed 5-4 in the third set, before winning three straight games to send the Bears back to the quarterfinals.

“It feels amazing right now,” said Cutler. “There was a lot of pressure, and I knew that it could come down to my match. I had to stay out there as long as could to give us a chance.

“This is a big accomplishment for our team, to come back to St. Louis for nationals. It’s really special that we get to play on our home turf.”

Washington U. fell behind 3-0 after getting swept in doubles for the first time all season. Cutler and sophomore Chris Hoeland dropped an 8-5 decision at No. 1, sophomores Trevis Bowman and Nirmal Choradia lost at No. 2, 9-7, and junior Charlie Howard and freshman John Watts had its 13-match winning streak halted with an 8-5 loss at No. 3.

Kalamazoo (18-11) made when 4-0 as Matt Wise posted a 6-3, 6-0 win over Howard at No. 5 before WU mounted its comeback. Hoeland pulled out a tough 6-3, 7-6 win over Cyrus Jadun at No. 3, and Choradia cruised past Luke Marker at No. 6, 6-2, 6-1.

Watts, ranked No. 16 in Division III, kept the Bears’ hope alive with a 6-3, 7-5 win over Jason Brown at No. 2. He has now won 18 straight singles matches, and improved his overall mark to 28-4. Freshman Danny Levy made it four wins in a row for the Bears with a 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 win over Tim Hubbard at No. 4 singles. Levy is now 25-3 in his rookie season with the Red and Green.

Washington University (20-4) will take on the winner of No. 1 University of California-Santa Cruz/No. 2 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges on Tuesday, May 15 in the NCAA quarterfinals.