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Lords topple Emory to claim first place

Published: Thursday, February 28, 2013

Updated: Thursday, February 28, 2013 01:02


Men’s tennis took home the first championship crown in program history at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Indoor Championship in Saint Peter, Minn. this weekend, ultimately beating No. 1-ranked Emory University in a nail-biting series of matches. Friday, the Lords methodically defeated North Carolina Wesleyan University 8-1; on Saturday, they took out California Lutheran University, 6-3; and on Sunday, they topped Emory, 5-4. Before the tournament, Kenyon was ranked No. 2 nationally; the Lords are now expected to assume the top ranking.

Senior C.J. Williams’s (5-7, 6-3, 7-6) fourth-seed win over Emory’s Elliot Kahler pushed Kenyon over the top in a match tied at four wins apiece. When Williams won, “we were ecstatic,” Paul Burgin ’13 said. “We stormed him; it was a great feeling.”

Kevin Ye ’13 finished his six-seed match as Williams was in the midst of his third set. “As it became more apparent that Kevin was going to win his match quickly, the pressure increased for me,” Williams said. Williams admitted to being slightly intimidated when he realized that his match would determine the winner. After losing his second set, Williams battled back in the third. “If [my teammates] didn’t come through, I wouldn’t have been put in the position to do what I did,” he said. 

For many Lords, this weekend provided an opportunity to avenge last spring’s 3-5 loss to the Eagles at the 2012 NCAA Division III tournament. “[We felt] the sting of defeat,” Burgin said. “Ever since that day in May, all I could think about was beating Emory and taking back the national title that I thought we deserved.” 

Michael Razumovsky ’15 said it is “incredibly humbling” to be part of the first team in Kenyon history to achieve the trifecta of beating Emory, winning the ITA Championship and attaining the national number-one ranking.

As a unit, the men’s singles players made the championship happen. The Lords lost two of their three doubles matches, but went 4-2 in singles action. Razumovsky, playing number-two singles, defeated Alex Ruderman (6-2, 6-2); Wade Heerboth ’15 defeated Ian Wagner at number-three singles (6-3, 7-6); and Ye shut out Nicholas Szczurek (6-0, 6-0) at number-six singles. Razumovsky, Williams, Heerboth and Ye did not lose a singles match all weekend.

Kenyon’s march to victory included other noteworthy achievements. Playing number-one singles against N.C. Wesleyan’s Robert Kjellberg, Burgin won 6-4, 6-3 to record his 82nd career singles victory, a the Kenyon record. 

“A lot of great tennis players have come through Kenyon, so it is a great honor to hold the [singles record],” Burgin said in an email. “When I chose to play tennis here, I did not come with the purpose of breaking records. I came with the goal of doing everything in my ability to help my team win matches, and at some point, a national title. … While personal records may be nice, this is a team sport, and to know that I have done my part for the team is a great feeling.”

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