Emory University's Dillon Pottish capped off a stellar three-year career in grand style Saturday morning by capturing the NCAA Division III Men's Tennis Singles Championship. The Championships were held in Cary, NC, with Meredith College serving as the host institution.
Pottish became the third men's player in school history to bring home the singles title following a grueling three-set victory over Nicholas Ballou of Cal Lutheran. Pottish, last year's national runner-up, closed out his 2011-12 season with a 34-3 record with a 6-2,
1-6, 6-2 verdict over Ballou who finished his season at 25-7.
In the decisive third set, Pottish, the No. 1 seed, broke Ballou in the first game en route to jumping out to a 2-0 lead. However, the West Region's No.1-ranked player fought back to tie the set up at 2-2 after holding serve and then breaking Pottish. With Ballou serving in the fifth game, Pottish was staring down the barrel of a 0-30 deficit but stormed back to win the next five points win the game and claim a 3-2 advantage. From there, Pottish rolled through the rest of the set, holding serve on two occasions while recording another break of Ballou.
"Today for Dillon wasn't as much about playing tennis as it was mental," said head coach John Browning. "He had to battle the demons from losing last year in the finals along with the pressure that he faced as the favorite to win the tournament. He trusted his game to get him through which can be tough to do at times when fighting the mental aspect of things as well as the lack of energy after playing for the past six days.
"After the first set, he lost his energy and had to make a decision in the second set when he went down, 0-3, as to whether or not to conserve his energy for a possible third set, or to go all out the remainder of the set and maybe not have anything left in the tank for a third set if he didn't win the second," Browning continued. "So, he conserved his energy and came back with a strong third set. His effort the past few days certainly the result of the foundation of all his hard work during his career."
Pottish, who grinded away to five wins during the singles portion of the Championships, joins Michael Goodwin (2009) and Chris Goodwin (2011) as other Emory men's players to bring home the NCAA D-III men's singles crown.
Pottish's 34 wins this year are the third-highest seasonal total in school history. He finished off his stint as an Eagle with the second- and third-most efforts in that category (37 wins in 2011). Career-wise, his 97 singles wins ranked third all-time at Emory.
Shortly after Pottish won his match, Emory's Gabrielle Clark emerged with the women's singles title, marking just the fourth time in NCAA Division III history that the men's and women's individual champion had come from the same school , with Emory having accounted for that twice, the first coming in 2009 when Michael Goodwin and Lorne McManigle brought home the hardware.