Chen and Tzeng rally past top-seeded CWRU to advance to NCAA Doubles semis

Jeffrey Chen '22 and Adam Tzeng '22 (Photo by Steven Eckhoff)
Jeffrey Chen '22 and Adam Tzeng '22 (Photo by Steven Eckhoff)
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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – The Brandeis University tandem of Jeffrey Chen (Northfield, Ill./New Trier) and Adam Tzeng (Eagle, Idaho/Eagle) staged a terrific comeback today in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division III Doubles Tournament at the Champions Tennis Center in Chattanooga, Tenn. The Judges defeated top-seeded James Hopper and Matthew Chen of Case Western Reserve University, 6-7 (6-8), 7-6 (7-4), 6-1.

"I'm so proud of the way Adam and Jeff performed today," said head coach Pauri Pandian. "They played to win every set. We knew Case Western wasn't going to go away, so we played aggressive, offensive tennis."

The entire match was a series of runs. The Judges opened the first set with two early service breaks to take a 4-1 lead. CWRU responded by winning the next four in a row to take a 5-4 lead. Tzeng finally held serve to even things at 5-all, with the Spartans answering to make it 6-5. In the 12th game of the set, Chen faced nine deuce points and three break points before holding to force the tiebreaker. The teams were even at 3-3 after the first changeover. Brandeis jumped out to a 6-4 lead after switching sides, giving them two set points, but the Spartans won four-straight points to take the first, 7-6 (8-6).

Case looked to take control of the second set early, breaking twice in the first three games to go up, 3-0. The Judges answered with a break of their own in the fourth game of the set, setting off a three-game run of their own. The Spartans broke again in Game 7 to take a 4-3 lead, and they held to get within one game of the match at 5-3. Tzeng held with a terrific serve at 40-30 to keep Brandeis in the match, 5-4. The Brandeis duo then pulled off a terrific return game, breaking CWRU at love to know the match, 5-5. Case responded on Chen's serve, again putting themselves in a position to win with a 6-5 lead. The Spartans went ahead, 40-15, but the Judges fought off three match points to break back.

"They hit three amazing winners, it was a huge moment," Pandian said.

In the tiebreaker, the Judges and Spartans were on serve at 3-2 when Chen hit a winner to put them ahead, 4-2, and they cruised from there to claim the second set, 7-6 (7-4).

In the third set, Brandeis took control early, winning the first four games. "Jeff had an awesome hold at 3-0," Pandian said. "It was such a big energy boost to get us the rest of the way." The Judges ended up clinching the match with a 6-1 win in the final set, winning with one last break of serve after two hours and 12 minutes.

With the victory, Chen and Tzeng, who clinched All-America status with their first-round win, become the first Brandeis doubles team to advance past the quarterfinal round of the NCAA tournament. In tomorrow's semifinals, they will meet the team of Nicholas Aney and Alex Budde of Gustavus Adolphus College. The match is slated to take place at 1:30 p.m., with the winners advancing to the finals at 3 p.m.