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Eudice Chong, Skyler Butts Claim Division III Singles Titles in Kalamazoo

Claremont-Mudd-Scripps senior Skyler Butts had to deal with hundreds of his opponent's fans roaring on every point. Wesleyan sophomore Eudice Chong had to face the only player who had beaten her in Division III competition. But both took advantage of their experience in the big moment, with Butts defeating Kalamazoo College's Branden Metzler 6-2, 6-7(0), 6-2 and Chong downing Juli Raventos of Williams 6-2, 7-5 to claim the 2016 NCAA Division III singles titles last Saturday at Kalamazoo College's Stowe Stadium.

Singles Champion Skyler Butts of CMS
© Zoo Tennis
Summer-like weather was the backdrop for big crowds during the tournament's three days, and with Kalamazoo College still in session, Metzler received enthusiastic support from classmates, professors and staff. After beating top seed Noah Farrell of Middlebury 6-3, 6-3 in Friday's quarterfinals, the seventh-seeded Metzler had little time to enjoy it, with his semifinal match just a few hours later. But Metzler ensured another impressive turnout for Saturday's final when he defeated unseeded Zach Hewlin of Whitman 6-3, 6-4.

Butts knew the grueling trip to the final well, having made the same journey to the championship match last year in Mason, Ohio. After three straight-set wins, the No. 4 seed was tested in the semifinals by unseeded Abhishek Alla of Carnegie Mellon, but went on to close out the match 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.

In the final, with a crowd of over 400, most clad in white, loudly supporting Metzler, Butts appeared the more comfortable of the two. He played a nearly flawless first set, while Metzler, known as B Metz in the chants of his cheering section, admitted his emotions were scattered.

"It was a little bit of nerves, being out here, never playing in an NCAA finals, and I think Skyler had a little advantage there," said the junior from Rockford, Illinois. "That's not an excuse. Good players come out and play when they need to, and Skyler played a great first set."

Metzler steadied himself in the second set, with three straight holds, but a rare missed overhead from Metzler gave Butts a break and a 4-3 lead. Butts held for 5-3 and four points into his service game, Metzler found himself down two match points. Butts missed a volley on the first, and Metzler cracked a service winner on the second, with the crowd finding a new decibel level when he closed out the game.

Serving for the match, Butts made a couple of errors, with Metzler giving him nothing. Butts saved two break points at 15-40, but double faulted to give Metzler a third, and an unforced error by Butts on the forehand on that break point sent the crowd into a frenzy.

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Page updated on Monday, March 11, 2019
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