NEW YORK - The final event of the fall season gets under way tomorrow for the Columbia men's tennis team, with three Lions heading to Indian Wells, California for the ITA Fall National Championships.
Live scoring and live streaming will be available through the ITA webpage on select courts from the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa, while the draws are expected to be announced later today.
Columbia's Victor Pham earned a spot in the 64-player singles draw and Jackie Tang picked up an at-large singles bid, as the two earned an at-large doubles bid together. In addition, William Matheson and Jack Lin will also be among the 32 doubles pairs in the field after earning a title at the ITA Northeast Regional. Aside from the Lions, only Wake Forest, Georgia, and Florida have two or more participants in both singles and doubles.
In singles play, Pham was dominant, coming away with six victories all against competition from the Ivy League. His first two wins came via 6-1, 6-1 tallies, before only surrendering as much as three games in a set once over the next three matches.
The No. 38 player in the preseason ITA rankings had to then face another ranked opponent in the championship final, Cornell’s David Volfson. The Big Red junior posted a preseason singles ranking of No. 109, but was no match for Pham, who won 6-3, 6-3.
Pham’s latest triumph came on the heels of an impressive fall season, where he improved to 12-3 in 2017. The junior enters the Fall National Championship with wins over No. 31 Aron Hiltzik (Illinois), No. 76 Felipe Sarrasague (Elon), No. 3 Petros Chrysochos (Wake Forest), and Arizona State’s Michael Geerts, who holds a career best ranking of No. 435 on the ATP Tour.
Of the Saratoga, California, natives three losses, one was to the No. 2 seed this weekend, Brandon Holt from USC, after Pham advanced to the Championship match of the Oracle ITA Masters. Another loss was to top-ranked Mikael Torpegaard from Ohio State, who had to fight back after dropping the first set to Pham.
For Tang, an 11-5 fall was highlighted by a pair of deep runs at both the ITA All-American and the Northeast Regional. The sophomore won his first four matches at the ITA All-American, before falling to No. 5 Alfredo Perez (Florida) in the Main Draw. At the Northeast Regional, Tang posted three victories until a hard-fought quarterfinal match ended his run with a three-set loss to Harvard's Andy Zhou.
On the doubles side, Matheson and Lin fought off Pham and Jackie Tang in the Championship match of the Northeast Regional, which was played at the Dick Savitt Tennis Center after the two Columbia teams advanced to the final. The Fall Championship qualifiers took the first set 6-4, before an exciting finish. In the second set, both teams were able to hold serve throughout, despite Tang and Pham having a double-set point with a 6-5 lead. In the tiebreaker, Tang and Pham got off to a 4-0 lead, but Matheson and Lin fought back to win the match, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5).
The two Columbia pairs advanced to the championship match after an impressive weekend against the rest of the teams in the Northeast Regional, which all took place at Yale.
In the tournament's Third Quarter, Lin and Matheson had to post five wins in order to make it to the final. The pair cruised to 8-2 victories against Cestarollo/Nath (Binghamton) and Bianco/Martinez (St. Bonaventure) in their first two matches, before holding on for an 8-7 win against Yale’s King/Z. Wang. Columbia’s champions then topped two Dartmouth’s doubles teams, including a 6-4, 6-0 semifinal win against Fliegner/Conklin.
Prior to this season, Pham and Tang had never played doubles together. It is safe to say the talent has risen above the unfamiliarity, as the pair are 6-3 together this fall, with one of the losses coming to Lin and Matheson in the Northeast Regional final. The pair posted four victories prior to the final to advance.
First Round Match-Ups (All times PST)
Victor Pham vs. Sameer Kumar (Stanford) - 10:45 a.m.
Jackie Tang vs. No. 11 Michael Geerts (Arizona State) - 12:45 p.m.
Lin/Matheson vs. David Felix/Peter Thrac (Idaho State) - 4:00 p.m.
Pham/Tang vs. No. 6 Mitch Harper/Henrik Korsgaard (Virginia Tech) - 5:00 p.m.