March 14, 2014

Tartans Split on First Day of Stag-Hen Invitational

(CLAREMONT, Calif.) - The Carnegie Mellon University men's tennis team jumped in the national rankings to No. 11 after winning its first three matches during its spring break tour of California. On Friday, the team appeared in the Stag-Hen Invitational hosted by Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and Pomona-Pitzer and split action, falling to No. 1 Washington University 6-3 and defeating No. 18 Gustavus Adolphus College 6-3.

The Tartans opened the invitational against University Athletic Association counterpart Washington and found themselves down 3-0 after doubles. The No. 3 pair of sophomore Paul Okuda (Kaneohe, Hawaii/Punahou) and freshman Kiril Kirkov (Tampa, Fla./C. Leon King) fought hard but fell 9-8 (7-5) as the Bears came from behind to win the point.

In singles play, the Tartans pulled in their first point from sophomore Abhishek Alla (Hyderabad, India/IMG Pendleton School) at the No. 1 position when he won 6-4, 6-2 over Ross Putterman. Freshman Kenny Zheng (Pennington, N.J./Hopewell Valley Central) then won his No. 5 singles match 6-3, 7-6 (7-3).

The Tartans seemed to be on a roll, tying the match at 3-3 when Kirkov won 6-3, 6-4 at No. 4 singles  but the final three singles matches went to a third set and the Bears pulled them all out for the 6-3 win.

After a break, the Tartans started its next match against Gustavus and trailed after doubles play, 2-1. The pair of junior Bryce Beisswanger (Los Angeles, Calif./Viewpoint School) and sophomore Yuvraj Kumar (New Delhi, India/Millfield School) won at No. 2 doubles 8-6.

Alla was the first to finish singles play, as he won 6-1, 6-0 at No. 1 singles before junior Christian Heaney-Secord (Westwood, Mass./Westwood) gave the Tartans a 3-2 lead with a 6-3, 6-4 win at No. 2 singles.

Shortly after Heaney-Secord's win, Kirkov won 6-1, 6-3 at No. 4 singles to win his fifth straight match and put the Tartans up 4-2.

After Gustavus won a three-set match at No. 3 singles, Zheng clinched the match after coming from behind to win 2-6, 6-1, 6-4.

Kumar won the final point for the Tartans after a super tiebreaker for the third set, 6-7, 6-2, 1-0 (11-9).

The Tartans will face No. 16 Pomona-Pitzer on Saturday, March 15 at 9:30 a.m. in the final match of the Stag-Hen Invitational.