Men’s Tennis: Strong Kirchheimer wins ITA Regional Tournament, claims spot in Nationals
October 26, 2016
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The team season doesn’t start for almost three months, but Strong Kirchheimer is already in midseason form. The senior won the ITA Midwest Region title Monday and qualified for the ITA National Indoor Championships in the process.
Kirchheimer was the No. 2 seed in the regional tournament, and he dominated the final against Michigan’s Kevin Wong, knocking the No. 14 seed out 6-3, 6-0.
Kirchheimer’s position at the No. 2 seed left him at the bottom of the draw, making him one of the last people to play each day, but he said he handled the waiting well en route to the title.
“I was pretty strong mentally, just getting through that,” Kirchheimer said. “It was just kind of a waiting game for me, making sure I was focused and ready to go for my match.”
The tournament didn’t go as well for fellow senior Konrad Zieba, who was the first on court as the No. 1 seed in the regional.
The team’s No. 1 singles player last year dropped his round of 16 match to the No. 19 seed, Michigan’s Myles Schalet. Schalet continued his impressive performance after his takedown of Zieba, making the semifinals before losing to Wong.
“Sometimes things happen,” coach Arvid Swan said. “Konrad did some good things in the tournament as well. We’re pleased with where his game is. I’m definitely happy where he’s progressing as well.”
Though Zieba officially retired trailing Schalet 4-6, 7-6, 4-5, Swan simply said Zieba “lost the match.”
Despite Zieba’s withdrawal, it is possible he too will get an invite as a wildcard to ITA Nationals, which begin Nov. 3.
Beyond the top two, the story for the Wildcats was the play of sophomore Michael Lorenzini.
Lorenzini made his case for a spot in the lineup in the winter with his trip to the quarterfinals, grabbing an especially impressive 7-6, 7-6 win over No. 5 seed Jathan Malik of Michigan in the first round.
Lorenzini was not a regular in the NU lineup against top competition last year, but after the graduation of Fedor Baev and Alp Horoz’s departure from the team, there are two spots up for grabs.
“I was pretty happy with what he did, getting to the quarters, having a pretty big win,” Kirchheimer said of his teammate. “We saw a lot of good things from our guys, and hopefully, that leads to some better things in January.”
On the doubles side of the tournament, the most successful of the Cats’ three doubles teams was the duo of Zieba and freshman Dominik Starý. The team reached the quarterfinals before falling to Malik and Wong.
Starý impressed in singles play as well, though he fell to the No. 18 seed Alex Lebedev of Notre Dame in the second round. Freshman Chris Ephron also charged through the qualifiers before losing in the first round of the main draw. Additionally, freshman Brenden Volk and sophomore Jason Seidman each lost their opening round matches.
“It was good to get out and play some of the best players in the region,” Swan said. “I think the competition we played against was pretty good, and it was a good opportunity for our guys to play.”