Stags, Athenas Continue Dominance at ITA West Regional Championship

Last weekend, the men’s and women’s Claremont-Mudd-Scripps tennis teams looked to continue their success from the previous spring at the ITA West Regional Championship. The tournament, held at Biszantz Family Tennis Center, is the major offseason Division III tournament, as winners receive All-American awards and get to compete in a national tournament against the winners from the other four regions across the country.

Expectations were high for CMS. The team held the top two seeds in the men’s and women’s singles tournaments and were considered among the favorites for the doubles tournaments as well.

By the time the tournament ended Sunday, both the men’s and women’s teams met their lofty goals and came out with tournament titles.

Across the singles and doubles tournaments, the men’s tennis team displayed its strong depth. In singles, the Stags had a strong showing, with eight players reaching the round of 16. Jack Katzman CM ’21 and Avi Vemuri CM ’18 made it to the semifinals, but both came up short of the title match, each losing in two sets.

In the doubles tournament, the Stags continued to show their strength as three pairs made the semifinals. Eventually, the doubles became an all-CMS final: Jake Berber CM ’20 and Nikolai Parodi CM ’20 came together and recovered from first round upsets in the singles tournament to reach the doubles final against recent transfer Oscar Burney CM ’20 and doubles All-American Julian Gordy CM ’19. 

With a sense of familiarity, the match was a well-fought three set battle that showcased great CMS competition. After Berber and Parodi dominated the first set 6-2, Burney and Gordy responded to take back the second set 7-5, leading to an intense winner-take-all third set. Berber and Parodi quickly went down 5-3 and had their backs against the wall, but they did not panic.

“We have a keyword whenever we see one of each other getting upset, and so we said it and it really turned our attitude around in the match,” Berber said.

The pair kept calm and won the third set 7-5 to take home the doubles championships and All-American awards. Afterwards, the two were excited about their achievement but felt a little bittersweet in their celebration.

“There’s a happy/sad feeling when you see the disappointment in your teammates eyes and you just know how hard they’ve worked,” Berber said.

The Athenas also performed well in the weekend tournament: In doubles, four women’s pairs made it to the quarterfinals. Nicole Tan CM ’20 and Lindsay Brown CM ’18 made it to the finals, but came up just a bit short of the title.

The Athenas were also present throughout the singles tournament, taking three of the four semifinal spots.

This led to another all-CMS final between Cat Allen SC ’20 and Tan, which Allen managed to win with a four set margin 6-2, 6-2.

Allen said she felt conflicted while facing her teammate: “It’s a lot tougher playing my teammates because I have a competitive personality on the court so it’s hard because I love my teammates so much.”

But after an exhausting weekend, Allen felt thrilled to be an All-American: “Last year it was a lot tougher to get to nationals so this year already having it before the spring season feels really good.”

Overall, both teams seemed fairly pleased with their performances over the weekend.

“I think we did really well,” men's team captain Gordy said after the tournament. “I think there’s a few things we could work but overall a lot of good things.”

The Stags’ and Athenas’ performances allowed them to prove yet again their continued dominance atop the west coast for Division III. As for Berber, Parodi, and Allen, their fall season is not over, as they will compete in the ITA National Championship in Rome, Georgia next week to face the winners from the other regional tournaments.

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