|2018 ITA Cup DIII Singles Champion Boris Sorkin (right) with Tufts head coach Karl Gregor|
ROME, Ga. – Sophomore Boris Sorkin of the Tufts University men's tennis team won the 2018 ITA Cup Division III singles national championship on Saturday morning in Georgia.
Sorkin completed his remarkable run through the fall season by winning in three sets against Chad Leduff from UC Santa Cruz 2-6, 6-4, 6-2. Considered the fall tennis national championship, Sorkin is the first Jumbo to win this title.
In a match between players from schools with two of the most unique nicknames in college sports, the Jumbo prevailed over the Banana Slug. Sorkin, the ITA New England champion, was seeded fourth in the ITA Cup DIII singles bracket. Leduff, who won the ITA West Region title, was the #2 seed.
"When I think about it, it feels great," Sorkin said from Georgia. "I tried not to think about that during the tournament. You just play, you know, and then suddenly, boom, you are the national champion. Great feeling."
After losing the first set and rallying to even the match, Sorkin was at 2-2 against Leduff in the third set. He then broke Leduff twice in the fifth and seventh games to take a 5-2 lead. Rolling with momentum, he secured the championship with a 6-2 third-set victory. A native of St. Petersburg, Russia, Sorkin is the first Jumbo to win the ITA singles championship.
"I was mentally prepared for a long match and the fact that I lost the first set didn't really affect me, because of that," Sorkin said. "I knew I would get my chances later on in the match. I also had nothing to lose. I made it that far. It was already an accomplishment for me. So I just stayed calm throughout the whole match."
Sorkin had also come back from a set down to defeat #1 seed Jonathan Jemison from Emory in Friday's semi-finals 5-7, 7-5, 6-3. He started ITA Cup play on Thursday by advancing past Jake Trondson from Hamline 6-4, 6-1 in the quarterfinals.
This is the third and most significant title that Sorkin has captured this fall. He defeated Bates College's Pieter Wernink in convincing fashion 6-0, 6-2 to take the Middlebury Invitational A singles crown on September 16. His ITA New England win – which earned him a trip to the ITA Cup – came on September 30 when he outlasted Bowdoin College's Jerry Jiang 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.
Sorkin played well as a freshman last season for the Jumbos. He finished the year starting at #1 singles and was named to the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) All-Conference team. Lacking the size and strength of some of his opponents, he has mentally overcome that obstacle which has made a difference this fall.
"It's hard to answer," he said. "I think I just got more confidence this fall and convinced myself that I am capable of winning against players who are stronger than me."
The ITA Cup was held at the Rome Tennis Center at Berry College.
The rest of the Jumbo team is back in Greater Boston competing at the Tufts / Brandeis Invitational today and tomorrow. Once that concludes, that will be the end of the Jumbos' fall season. They will resume their 2018-19 schedule with a dual match at Brandeis on March 9.