Oberlin, Ohio – Trinity University Tigers juniors Bobby Cocanougher and Cory Kowal lost a tightly played 6-3, 6-4 decision Sunday to No. 2 seeds Brian Pybas and Marc Vartabedian of California-Santa Cruz in the NCAA Division III Men’s Tennis Championships doubles final.
Cocanougher, from Southlake, Texas (Carroll); and Kowal, from Austin, Texas (Anderson); had become the first Tiger players to reach an NCAA championship match since 2001, when Sloan Rush and Ed Rahn accomplished that feat.
Earlier in the day, the unseeded Trinity All-Americans outfought top seeds Andrew Lee and Andrew Thomson of Middlebury 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 in the semifinals at Oberlin College. It marked the Tiger team’s second straight trip to the national semifinals.
The 90-minute title match was closer than the score indicated. Both teams held serve in the first set, until Cocanougher was broken, giving the Banana Slugs a 5-3 lead. The second set also was a battle, particularly in the seventh and eighth games. Cocanougher gave Trinity a 4-3 lead, which included a service ace in the process. The Slugs evened the score at 4-4, in a game which went back and forth to deuce a number of times. Santa Cruz then broke the left-handed Kowal, and led 5-4.
Trinity began the 16-team doubles tournament last Friday with a 7-6 (2), 6-2 victory over David Maldow and Andrew Wang of Johns Hopkins. Cocanougher and Kowal came from behind to defeat third seeds Isaac Stein and Max Woods of Washington-St. Louis 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 in Saturday’s quarterfinals.
The Tigers are led by first-year head coach Russell McMindes, a former Trinity standout. Trinity (18-10 in dual matches), won the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Championship, the NCAA West regional, and advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps eliminated the Tigers 5-2 in the team tournament.