The Emory University doubles team of senior Elliot Kahler and Ian Wagner came through with a pair of stirring performances on Saturday as the pair captured the doubles title at the NCAA Division III Men's Championships in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Entering the 16-team championships field unseeded, Kahler and Wagner earned the first men's doubles crown in school history with a 7-6 (5), 6-1 decision over the No. 3-seeded duo of Robert Kjellberg and Artsiom Prostak of North Carolina Wesleyan in the title showdown, raising their season record to 24-7.
After seeing Kjellberg and Prostak record wins in two earlier meetings this year, including one in the NCAA Regionals, Kahler and Wagner clawed their way to a first-set win that saw each team hold serve heading into the tie breaker, though they dodged potential disaster in the fourth and sixth games, trailing by 0-30 scores. A huge swing in the first set came when Emory faced a break-point, set point situation before Kahler unleashed a second-serve acethat kept the Eagles alive where they eventually held serve to knot the set at 5-5. In the break, a text-book top spin lob by Wagner capped a three-point run that put Emory ahead by a 5-2 margin. However, the Bishops' duo scrapped back with three unanswered points of
|Elliot Kahler & Ian Wagner|
their own to deadlock the score at 5-5. Emory then accounted for the next two points to win the all-important first set.
Emory dominated the second set, breaking Kjellberg and Prostak in the second game en route to claiming a 3-0 lead. After the Bishops held to win the fourth game, a Wagner ace closed out the fifth game while the Bishops were broke again in the sixth game after double-faulting. Serving for the match, the Eagles saw the Bishops fight off three match points before Kahler sealed the outcome with the decisive point coming off his racket.
Kahler and Wagner opened Saturday with an emotional 7-5, 7-5, victory over the top-seeded tandem of Nicholas Ballou and Raymond Worley from Cal Lutheran, who were also ranked as the No. 1 doubles team in the West Region. Serving for the match, the Emory duo faced a potential tiebreaker after dropping the first two points of the game before regrouping to close out the Kingsmen duo.
It marks the third straight year that Emory has had players win either the singles or doubles titles with Chris Goodwin and Dillon Pottish claiming the singles crowns in 2011 and 2012, respectively.