Valparaiso University’s men’s tennis team had all three competitors register victories in the opening round of the qualifying draw at the ITA Regionals for the first time in program history on Thursday in Columbus, Ohio.
Chris Baum (Charlotte, N.C./Providence H.S.), Eric Honert (Arvada, Colo./Ralston Valley H.S.), and Adam Whitmer (Shipshewana, Ind./Westview H.S.) each won their round of 64 match before falling in the afternoon in the round of 32.
“I am really proud of all three of how all three of our guys played today,” head coach Jim Daugherty said. “They all began with a bit of nerves playing in one of the elite tournaments of the year. However, they really settled into their games well and played really strong. The competition just proved to be a bit too strong for them in round two. This was a big step forward for us today and we will look to continue to advance further and further next season.”
This marked the first time a Crusader had registered a singles win in the event since 2005 when Nic Kooyers won an opening round match. It was also the first time ever more than one Valpo player recorded a victory in the same season since the regional tournament began.
Baum opened the day needing an 11-9 tie-break victory in the first set against Nate Kirk of UIC to spearhead the victory. He won the opening round match 7-6 (9), 6-1. He fell in round two 6-1, 6-2 to Wyatt Lippert of Ohio State, the field’s number nine overall seed. The redshirt-junior finishes the fall season 6-2 overall in singles.
Honert downed Detroit’s Pablo Nunez 6-4, 6-3 in round one before dropping a tough 7-6 (1), 7-6 (3) decision to Zeyad Montasser of Western Michigan in the round of 32, dropping a pair of set tie-breakers. Honert shared team-high honors this fall with six singles victories.
“Eric’s performance in both of his matches today was just outstanding,” Daugherty added. “He really put together back-to-back solid matches.”
Whitmer rallied in his first match against Connor Andrews of IPFW, rebounding from a first set loss to posted a 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 triumph. The senior fell 6-0, 6-1 to Ross Vanderpoloeg of Western Michigan in his second match of the day.
Baum and Whitmer will team on Friday afternoon in the opening round of doubles action in the main draw. The duo will face the tournament’s eight seed, Billy Bertha and Alex Kostanov of Wisconsin. Honert will join Kevin DeHerrera (Littleton, Colo./Chatfield H.S.) to face Michigan’s Michael Zhu and Alex Buzzi in the opening round.
Doubles action begins at 3:30 p.m. on Friday at the Varsity Tennis Center in Columbus.