SKILLMAN, NJ -- The 13th annual ITA Division III National Men's Team Indoor Championship is set to get underway Friday, Feb. 20 from St. Peter, Minn. Gustavus Adolphus College will serve as the host institution for the 10th time in the national championship's history.
Friday's action will feature two sessions of matches, one at 11:30 am CT and the other at 5:00 pm CT. In the day's first session, second seed Kenyon will take on seventh seed North Carolina Wesleyan while third seed Johns Hopkins and six seed Cal Lutheran square off. The evening session pits top seed and two-time defending champion Emory against eight seed and host Gustavus Adolphus, along with fourth seed UC Santa Cruz versus fifth seed Trinity.
The winners of Friday's matches advance to the semifinals, which are slated for Saturday at 2:00 pm CT. The championship match is scheduled for Sunday at 9:00 am CT. For the complete draw, click here.
For complete coverage of the 2013 ITA Division III National Men's Team Indoor Championship, please visit the official ITA event page. Follow the ITA on Twitter, @ITAtennis, for updates and news from the weekend's events. Use the hashtag #D3Indoors for all tweets in regards to the event, or search the term "D3Indoors" to find others who are tweeting from across the nation about this year's Championship, Feb. 22-24.
Below is an in-depth look at the eight teams in the hunt for the 2013 ITA Division III National Men's Team Indoor Championship title.
Cal Lutheran: The Kingsmen are making their third appearance in the ITA Division III National Men's Team Indoor Championship and will be in search of their first victory in the Championship in program history. Cal Lutheran is 3-0 on the young season, including 2-0 against Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) foes. The Kingsmen bring a national ranking of No. 11 into the weekend, which has earned them the sixth seed in the draw. Cal Lutheran has one nationally-ranked singles player in 25th-ranked Ray Worley, who is also ranked seventh in the ITA West Region in singles and 12th in the ITA West Region in doubles with Alex Nichols.
Emory: The Eagles have won the last two ITA Division III National Men's Team Indoor Championship crowns, running their total to five in program history. Emory has reached the finals on two other occasions and has the most wins (26) in event history. The top-ranked and top-seeded Eagles come in with a record of 3-1, dropping a tight 5-4 decision to NAIA powerhouse Auburn-Montgomery. Emory did defeat No. 20 Washington & Lee 8-1 in its last contest. Alex Ruderman is the highest ranked Eagle, checking in at 14th in the nation, while Eric Halpern is ranked 24th. Emory also boast one nationally-ranked doubles duo in sixth-ranked Jackson Issacs and Nicolas Szczurek. Overall, the Eagles have six singles players and four doubles pairs ranked in the ITA Atlantic South Region.
Gustavus Adolphus: The Golden Gusties own four ITA Division III National Men's Team Indoor Championship titles, with the last coming on their home courts in 2008. Gustavus Adolphus has a total of 20 victories in the Championship, the third most of any school in the country. The 25th-ranked Gusties are just 3-3 to this point in the season, but are a perfect 3-0 at home, winning those matches by a combined score of 26-1. Gustavus Adolphus is led by Mya Smith-Dennis, who is ranked eighth in the nation in singles and 11th in the nation in doubles with Amrik Donkena. The Gusties have three players in the Top 10 of the ITA Central Region singles rankings to go along with a pair of doubles tandems in the Top 10 of the ITA Central Region doubles rankings.
Johns Hopkins: The Blue Jays are making just their third appearance in the ITA Division III National Men's Team Indoor Championship, looking to build on the two wins they have collected in the event in past years. Johns Hopkins is ranked No. 7 in the nation and seeded third in the Championship, coming in with a record of 1-0. That dual match took place in the fall, but it was an impressive 6-3 defeat of No. 19 Amherst, the first time in program history the Blue Jays have defeated the Jeffs. Johns Hopkins has two players with a national singles ranking in fifth-ranked Andy Hersh and 21st-ranked Tanner Brown. Brown is also ranked fourth in the nation in doubles with Erik Lim. The Blue Jays have six players ranked in the ITA Atlantic South Region along with two of the top three doubles teams in the region.
Kenyon: The Lords have participated in the ITA Division III National Men's Team Indoor Championship in four previous years, recording a total of four wins in those appearances. Kenyon is ranked No. 2 in the nation, coming off its finals appearance in the 2012 NCAA Team Championship, and is seeded second in this year's event. The Lords are 2-1 to this point in the season, with the loss coming against Division I opponent Wisconsin-Green Bay and one of their victories over No. 29 Wisconsin-Whitewater. Kenyon is led by fourth-ranked Paul Burgin, who will set the school record for most career singles victories with his next win. The Lords also features the fifth-ranked doubles duo of Wade Heerboth and Robert Turlington. Kenyon features three of the Top 15 players from the ITA Central Region and two of the Top 10 doubles pairs.
North Carolina Wesleyan: The Battling Bishops have competed in the ITA Division III National Men's Team Indoor Championship just one other time in program history, posting a 1-2 record. North Carolina Wesleyan brings a national ranking of No. 12 into the event, earning them the seventh seed. The Battling Bishops opened up the season with a loss to No. 17 Cast Western, but have bounced back for two consecutive victories, including a 6-3 decision over No. 21 Mary Washington. North Carolina Wesleyan boasts the top singles player from the ITA Atlantic South Region in Robert Kjellberg, who is ranked second in the nation. Kjellberg and doubles partner Artsiom Prostak also bring in a region ranking of seventh.
Trinity: The Tigers will be playing in their 12th ITA Division III National Men's Team Indoor Championship; however, Trinity is still in search of its first finals appearance. The Tigers are currently ranked No. 9 in the nation but have suffered four losses this season. Trinity also has four wins to its credit, including defeating No. 25 Gustavus Adolphus and Division II opponent St. Edward's. The Tigers have the nation's top-ranked singles player in Aaron Skinner, who is also ranked ninth in doubles with Jordan Mayer. Trinity has a total of six players in the Top 20 of the ITA West Region rankings, as well as three of the Top 15 doubles tandems in the region.
UC Santa Cruz: The Banana Slugs have claimed the ITA Division III National Men's Team Indoor Championship crown three times in program history, most recently in 2010. Overall, UC Santa Cruz has appeared in the finals a tournament-best eight times. The Banana Slugs are ranked No. 8 in the nation, good enough for the fourth seed in this year's Championship. UC Santa Cruz is 2-3 on the season, having dropped a pair of matches to Division I foes, but did win its only match against Division III competition with a 6-3 defeat of No. 15 Bates. The Banana Slugs do not have any nationally-ranked singles players or doubles duos, but do feature a pair of players in the ITA West Region rankings along with two doubles teams.
-By Nick Snow, ITA (609-497-6921)