NATIONAL CHAMPS! Men's Tennis Blanks Middlebury For First NCAA Crown

Photo courtesy of John Lacko
Photo courtesy of John Lacko

KALAMAZOO, Mich. - The Bowdoin College men's tennis team won its first NCAA Division III Championship with an impressive 5-0 victory over rival Middlebury in the title match at Kalamazoo College on Wednesday.

The win avenges two losses to the Panthers earlier this season and gives the Polar Bears (20-3) a school-record twentieth victory on the year. It also caps an astounding run to the title for the squad, which rallied twice in the quarterfinals and semifinals before posting a shutout against Middlebury in the finals.

It is the first NCAA Division III championship for a men's team at the College. Overall, it is the fifth NCAA crown for Bowdoin as the men's tennis team joins the Polar Bear field hockey squad, which won titles in 2007, '08, '10 and '13.

Match Highlights

  • After tempting fate with deficits in doubles play in both the quarterfinal round (0-3 to Johns Hopkins) and semifinal match (1-2 to Emory), the Polar Bears burst from the gate to take a commanding 3-0 advantage in doubles play on Wednesday.
  • The Polar Bears trailed early in all three matches, but stormed back to take decisive wins at all three positions.
  • Jerry Jiang and Kyle Wolfe got Bowdoin on the board with an 8-3 win at #1, followed shortly by Luke Tercek and Luke Trinka's 8-4 victory at #1.
  • Gil Roddy and Grant Urken, playing together for the first time this season, capped the sweep with an 8-4 triumph at #3, giving the Polar Bears a 3-0 advantage heading into singles play.
  • Bowdoin squelched Middlebury's comeback chances thanks to a quartet of first-set wins in singles play, including a pair of tiebreaker wins. Grant Urken claimed a 7-4 first-set tiebreaker at #6 and Kyle Wolfe rallied from a 6-1 deficit in his tiebreak to take a dramatic 9-7 win to claim his opening set.
  • In the end, it was senior Luke Trinka who put the Polar Bears within a point of the title as he claimed a convincing 6-2, 6-3 win over Palmer Campbell at #3 singles.
  • With Bowdoin on the cusp of winning three matches, it was sophomore Gil Roddy who closed the deal, wrapping a 6-4, 6-4 win over Hamid Derbani at #5 singles. Up 5-4 and serving for the win, Roddy did not lose a point in the final game as Derbani's last shot sailed long to give the Polar Bears the national championship.

By The Numbers

  • It is the fifth time in the last seven years that a NESCAC team has won the NCAA Division III Men's Tennis Championship.
  • Bowdoin was making its third trip to the NCAA Quarterfinals (also in 2002 and '12) but had not won a match at the finals site in school history before claiming three consecutive wins this week.
  • The Polar Bears won the championship thanks in great part to their 11-3 record in singles play over the last three days. Trinka and Roddy recorded three wins apiece to spur Bowdoin to the title.
  • Overall, Roddy finishes the season with a record of 18-2 with both of his losses coming earlier this season to Derbani. Grant Urken finishes with a 20-0 record in dual matches this spring.
  • The victory snaps a six-match losing streak for Bowdoin against Middlebury, dating back to April of 2012. The Panthers had ended the Polar Bears' season in the NCAA Tournament last spring and defeated Bowdoin in this year's NESCAC Championship on May 8, 5-0.

Watch the final point of the championship below