Case Western Reserve University junior Matthew Chen and first-year James Hopper claimed the Division III doubles title at the 2019 ITA Cup on the campus of Berry College in Georgia Saturday, becoming the first duo in program history to accomplish the feat.
Chen and Hopper, who were seeded third overall in the draw, defeated the second-seeded duo of Bradley Cummins and Brysi Libao of Redlands 7-6 (7), 6-7 (8), 6-4 to claim the championship.
The Spartans earned their way into Saturday’s championship match with a pair of wins on Friday. In the quarterfinals, Chen and Hopper bested Sebastian Castillo-Sanchez and Andrew Imrie of RPI in three sets, 6-3, 6-7 (2), 11-9, fending off three match points. Later in the day, the pair fought their way to another three-set win, this time upending the tournament’s top-seeded team of Peter Frelinghuysen and Alex Taylor of Williams 6-7 (3), 6-1, 10-3.
Chen and Hopper improved to 13-0 in doubles matches together this fall.
By virtue of winning the Division III doubles draw, the Spartans continued play at the ITA Cup Sunday, facing the winner of the JuCo draw, while on the other side of the draw, the Division II winning duo played the NAIA winner. The victors from each of the two matches then faced off for a ticket to the ITA Fall National Championships in California.
After a run of 13-straight wins together to start the 2019 fall campaign, Hopper and Chen suffered their first loss of the year, falling to the JuCo representatives in the semifinals of the ITA Cup.
The Spartans’ top duo suffered the loss to ASA College Miami’s pairing of Tao Castillo and Gustavo de Oliviera Cruz, falling in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4.
The loss put an end to one of the most successful fall run in the history of the CWRU tennis program for Chen and Hopper. The duo earned All-America status by winning the doubles championship at the 2019 ITA Fall Central Regional Championships, and then went on to claim the NCAA Division III title at the ITA Cup on Saturday. No Spartan duo had ever qualified for the men’s ITA Cup previously, let alone won the championship.
Hopper also become the first CWRU player (men’s or women’s) to win the singles draw at the ITA Regionals, before placing fifth at the ITA Cup, with a 7-6 (4), 6-4 win over Vishnu Joshi of Johns Hopkins. He ended his fall campaign with a 16-1 singles mark.
The Spartans will resume their season in the spring, facing Northwestern Ohio on Friday, Feb. 11, in Toledo.