Men’s tennis faces top competition at the ITA-All American Championships, prepare for ITA Northeast Regionals

After a successful showing at the Ivy-Plus tournament at Princeton, men’s tennis traveled to Tulsa, Oklahoma, to take part in the ITA-All American Championships, overcoming its toughest test of the fall season thus far.

The Lions, competing in a field containing multiple ITA Top-30 ranked players, first sent a trio to the pre-qualifying draw. Of the players in that draw—sophomores Rian Pandole and Jason Lui, and second seed senior Timothy Wang—Pandole achieved the most success, as he went on to win four consecutive straight-set matches to advance to the qualifying draw.

The qualifying draw featured Pandole alongside fellow sophomore Austen Huang and senior William Matheson. While Huang and Pandole lost their opening-round matches, Matheson moved to the second round of the draw before falling to Miami’s Bojan Jankulovski in three sets, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2.

Junior Jackie Tang, ranked No. 40 in the most recent ITA rankings, was the sole Columbia player to qualify directly for the stacked singles main draw. Tang began the event with a first-round win over UT Arlington’s Guanarteme Nuez Delgado.

In the second round, however, Tang fell to Georgia’s Jan Zielinski, 6-4, 6-4 ending the Lions’ hope of bringing home a singles crown.

In the doubles event, the pair of Tang and Matheson teamed up against Virginia Tech’s seeded pairing of Henrik Korsgaard and Alex Ribeiro. After losing the first set 6-4, Tang and Matheson rebounded to take the second set 6-2, forcing a super tiebreaker. The tiebreaker ultimately went the way of Korsgaard and Ribeiro, who won it 10-6 to deal Tang and Matheson a 6-4, 2-6, 1-0(6) loss.

Tang and Matheson met a similarly unlucky fate in the doubles consolation draw, where they drew the top seeds—and the top college doubles pairing in the country—Mississippi State’s Nuno Borges and Strahinja Rakic in the first round. After winning the first set 7-5, the Lions competed in another three-set affair before falling 10-7 in another super tiebreaker.

Nonetheless, the Lions will soon be back in action at the ITA Northeast Regionals, which will be hosted by Princeton. Six Lions are seeded in the main draw of the singles event, and two more are joining them in the qualifying draw. The Lions will also have three pairings in the main draw of the doubles event. Tang, along with the pairing of Matheson and sophomore Jack Lin, are the top seeds in the singles events and doubles event, respectively.

The main draw of the ITA Northeast Regional will officially begin on Friday, Oct. 12, in Princeton, New Jersey.

chituga.weli@columbiaspectator.com | @CUSpecSports

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