On early Tuesday morning Bates men’s tennis was on the road again. Matt Bettles and Rob Crampton were on their way to Kalamazoo MI for the Division 3 National Singles and Doubles tournament. With the Team event finishing up on Wednesday, the action started for the men late Thursday morning. Rob played his first round singles match against Daniel Brown of UT Tyler. With rain coming down in Kalamazoo, the matches were all held indoors. Starting off, despite the fast indoor conditions, the boys traded breaks all the way to the first set tiebreak. Deadlocked at 4-4, Rob finally broke through by reeling off three straight points for the 7-4 win. Up a set, Rob continued to groove, shortly finding himself serving for the second set and match. However, Brown held steady fighting off nearly ten match points before finally breaking to even the game score at five a piece. From there Brown would move on to take the second set, deadlocking the match at a set all. In the third set Brown surged, holding easily for the first time in the match, he began to challenge Rob’s serve. Yet Rob held firm and in the seventh game of the set he broke through taking the 5-3 lead. With the second set still in mind Rob bombed in several serves to take the third set and the match. It took 3 hours and 8 minutes, by far the longest match of the tournament, but the berth into the round of 16 earned Rob his third All American award.
In the next round Rob was matched up against one of the top seeds, Paul Burgin of Kenyon. Despite this, Rob rolled in the first set. Rob returned and served well on the fast indoor surface and finally broke through in the ninth game of the first set allowing him to take the 6-4 first set victory. In the second set, Burgin began to fight back breaking in the first game. However, once again Rob went to work pushing Burgin to get the break and the second set back on serve at 4-5. Back on serve finally at 4-5, Rob played a rough game giving Burgin the break back for the set win. In the third set Rob ran out of steam as Burgin powered ahead to take Rob out of the draw with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-0 win.
With Rob out of singles the pair moved on to their evening doubles match. In the first round, Matt and Rob drew Frankie Allinson and Max Sabel of Pomona Pitzer. Having played them in their second match of the season and beaten them 8-6 in a tight match, the boys were ready to do it again. Matt and Rob started the match with a break but the Pomona-pair held tough and stuck with Matt and Rob even breaking back in the eighth game to even the match at 4 a-piece. Yet with the matched tied up the Bates pair took the initiative and broke through for the 6-4 first set win. With the first set under their belt, Rob and Matt got into a good mode taking the double break-4-1 lead at the start of the second set. Matt even accelerated the Bates surge with amazing shot-making that included a screaming-running-winner that rendered all neighboring court play speechless. With the end in sight, Bates continued to cruise as the pair became doubles All Americans with the straight sets win over the gritty Pomona team.
Having finished the last match at 10pm the night before the pair had most of the next day to rest before their quarterfinal match began in the evening. With one of their opponents still in the singles draw the wait would end up lasting until that night at 7:00pm. Their opponents would be Robert Kjellberg and Artsiom Prostak of NC Weslyan, the 3rd seed of the doubles draw. The NC Weslyan pair came out playing hot as they quickly took a double break for the 6-3 first set win. Continuing to work Kjellberg and Prostak went up another break for the 2-0 lead in the second set. However, the Bates pair refused to go away as they broke back and then broke again to take the 5-3 lead. Serving for the second set, Rob faced two break points but worked back to deuce and finally took the set 6-3. In the third set, Matt and Rob continued to work but their opponents regained their first set form and would race to the 6-1 set and match win ending the Bates run in the quarterfinals. This loss would of course end both seniors’ careers, however, despite the early exits it should be noted that the triple All-American honors were the pairs 5th, 6th, and 7th total All-American honors in their four years, and in the process of earning those accolades Matt and Rob accumulated over 200 combined wins between singles and doubles. These accomplishments of course pale in comparison with their contributions to the team which are immeasurable, they will be missed.