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National champions! Case Western Reserve wins first-ever NCAA Division III men's tennis title

After finishing as the runners-up two years in a row, the Spartans prevailed Tuesday over Tufts to give the school its first national title in any team sport.

ORLANDO, Fla. — After so many years of coming oh so close, Case Western Reserve has finally achieved the ultimate goal.

The Spartans' men's tennis team defeated Tufts 5-2 on Tuesday to win the NCAA Division III national championship. The squad had finished as the runner-up at the previous two tournaments, but now secures CWRU's first collegiate title in any team sport.

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Entering with the No. 1 ranking in the entire bracket, Case (33-4) marched its way through the field before getting all they could handle from Middlebury in Monday's semifinals, needing a tiebreaker win from Vishwa Aduru in the decisive ninth match just to secure a victory. Tonight's finals in Florida went much smoother, as the Spartans swept all three doubles matches to take an early 3-0 advantage.

Ranked second in the nation, Tufts (24-2) fought back with wins by Derin Acaroglu and Andrej Djokic in singles, but Ajay Mahenthiran put Case Western on the brink of a championship with a resounding 6-1, 6-2 triumph in his match. Seizing match point on Court 1, James Hopper obtained a 6-4, 6-4 conquest when Rishabh Shadra's backhand found the net, and the Spartans were at long last able to celebrate atop the D-III mountain.

The title marks the seminal moment in the career of head coach Todd Wojtkowski, who has slowly built Case Western Reserve into a powerhouse since his 2008 hiring. Besides five prior NCAA Tournament appearances and a pair of runner-up finishes, two Spartans doubles squads have also won national titles during his tenure — Eric Klawitter and Christopher Krimbill in 2014, followed by Hopper and Jonathan Powell just last year.

The D-III individual and doubles tournaments begin Thursday and run through Monday at the USTA National Campus in Orlando. Both Hopper and Aduru will compete in singles and also team up in doubles, with Diego Maza and Chris Provenzano additionally taking part in the latter event.

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